Another December day is upon us and with it, the 11th installment of our SSFC Advent Calendar feature.

Throughout the first 24 days of the month we are attempting to spread a bit of festive cheer, and today’s feature is started by Darius Osei, whose message for fans can be viewed via the tweet below.

Between now and Christmas Eve, you will be able to enter a range of competitions to win prizes courtesy of the club and several of its sponsors.

The latest item up for grabs is a home shirt signed by the SSFC team.

To enter this competition, supporters must wait until four questions have been asked, with the fourth to be published on Saturday. Supporters will have until 9am the following day to submit all of their four answers together via email to info@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

The first question, asked by Jason Gilchrist, was: Which club did Jason Gilchrist score his first competitive goal for South Shields against?

The second question, asked by Alex Kempster, was: Which club did Alex Kempster join South Shields from?

Today’s question is: Which club did Darius Osei score his first goal for South Shields against?

Remember, don’t submit your answers until the fourth question has been published on Saturday.

We also have another competition running in partnership with our sponsor Stoney’s Barber Shop.

A voucher for a haircut, deluxe shave and products is up for grabs and to enter the competition, you must do one of the following by 1pm on Saturday…

TO ENTER VIA TWITTER:

1. Like and retweet the below tweet

2. Make sure you are following the following accounts on Twitter: @SouthShieldsFC, @SSFCFoundation, @SSFCAcademy

TO ENTER VIA FACEBOOK:

1. Like, share and tag three of your friends on the competition posted on the South Shields FC Facebook page on Thursday morning.

2. Make sure you like the following pages on Facebook: South Shields FC, SSFC Foundation, Stoney’s Barber Shop

We would like to thank Stoney’s Barber Shop for their continued support.

We are also now highlighting our third charity of the month, Autism Able.

This is a fantastic South Shields-based charity which provides positive educational, social and work experiences for all learners enabling them to develop personally, vocationally and academically within an autism-friendly environment supported by passionate, caring and experienced staff with high standards and expectations.

To find out more about Autism Able, click here. To donate financially, click here.

Over the month, donations will also be encouraged towards the club’s charitable Foundation, which works with hundreds of children each week and does such fantastic work within our community.

To support the Foundation with a donation, please click here.

Thank you for your continued support and keep an eye out for Day Twelve tomorrow!

South Shields’ historic run in the Emirates FA Cup came to an end as they were beaten by League Two side Cheltenham Town in a hard-fought encounter at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

The Mariners were playing in round one of the competition for the first time and were level at the break after Darius Osei cancelled out an opener from Alfie May.

Shields more than matched their higher-ranked opponents for long spells but two goals in 10 minutes early in the second half by the hosts swung the tie in their favour.

In the final game of the hugely successful joint managerial reign of Lee Picton and Graham Fenton, Shields continued to battle for a way back into the game until the final whistle but they could not find the second goal which would have set up a grandstand finish.

The Mariners now face a wait before they return to league action at the end of the lockdown period.

This was Shields’ first opportunity to test themselves against Football League opposition and they had to withstand a strong start from their League Two hosts, with Ellis Chapman shooting wide from distance before Myles Boney was forced into a smart near-post save from the perennially dangerous May.

Boney could do nothing to prevent May firing Cheltenham into the lead on 11 minutes, though, with the striker turning home from close range after a cross from Matty Blair.

Shields were determined to do themselves justice on a bigger stage and the early setback sparked them into action. Jason Gilchrist was almost played in on goal by Robert Briggs and although defender Ben Tozer got in his way, the striker did force him into an impressive block.

There was also a sight of goal for Briggs, but his half volley from 20 yards comfortably cleared the crossbar.

Although the Mariners were clearly growing into the game, they did enjoy a real let-off when May headed wide from close range after another cross from the right.

What was already turning into an entertaining match had its second goal on 17 minutes, and this time it was Shields celebrating.

Briggs teased a superb low delivery into the box from the left and although it just evaded Gilchrist, Osei steamed in at the back post to force the ball home before colliding with the post. The blow Osei suffered forced his withdrawal from proceedings in what was a major blow for the away side, although his replacement Will McCamley acquitted himself well in his time on the pitch.

May and strike partner Reuben Reid were constant threats to the Shields back-line, and Boney did well to hold an effort from the former after some impressive skill from the Cheltenham man on the edge of the box.

Shields were imposing their style on the game by this stage and they enjoyed their best spell in the remainder of the first half.

Their first decent opportunity to take the lead came when Briggs seized a loose ball in midfield and fed it through to Gilchrist, who worked it onto his right foot before firing over.

The Mariners’ golden chance came four minutes before half-time and again Briggs was the architect as his pass split the Cheltenham defence and was met by an equally impressive run from McCamley, who was agonsingly off-target with his effort as it trickled past the post.

McCamley continued to be lively and had another bright moment a minute into stoppage time as he beat his man on the right and picked out Callum Ross, whose header at the back post found the side netting.

There was an early sight of goal for Shields in the second half when Gilchrist headed wide from a Briggs corner, but Cheltenham then embarked on a decisive spell to seize control of the first round tie.

Liam Sercombe dragged a shot wide and Boney saw a clearance cannon against Reid and fly over the bar, only for Shields’ resistance to be broken on 52 minutes as a ball in from the left was headed across the area and finished well by May, who doubled his tally.

Boney made a fine reaction stop from Reid to prevent the hosts scoring a quickfire double, but just after the hour it was 3-1 as Sercombe received the ball with his back to goal, turned and picked out the bottom corner with a fine effort. Shields felt play should have been stopped in the build-up after the ball struck the referee, but their appeals were waved away.

To their credit, Shields’ heads did not drop and they battled for a route back into the game, although Cheltenham remained a threat at the other end. Ross and Briggs made brave blocks and Boney saved with his legs from May to keep the possibility of a late comeback alive.

Their best opportunities fell to Ross, who headed wide from a Josh Gillies corner, and Gillies himself as the substitute fired over from just inside the box.

Boney made another eye-catching save as he kept out a pinpoint header from Andy Williams which was destined for the bottom corner, but there was no way back for Shields as their historic run in the competition came to a brave end.

South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Kempster (Gillies 69), Baxter (Lowe 60), Morse, Adams, Turnbull, Ross, Gilchrist, Briggs (c), Osei (McCamley 21). Subs not used: Coombe, Verstraaten, Thompson, Hindle.

Goal: Osei (17).

Attendance: 0.

Image: Kev Wilson.

South Shields qualified for the first round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time since the club reformed in 1974 on a stirring afternoon against FC Halifax Town at 1st Cloud Arena.

The National League side were put to the sword by a sharp Mariners outfit which clinched a 2-0 win thanks to a goal in each half.

Darius Osei headed them into the lead seven minutes before half-time and Robert Briggs’ impressive solo effort in the second half booked Shields a place in Monday’s draw alongside the likes of Sunderland, Hull City, Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth.

The historic victory was earned in front of a buoyant crowd of 300, perhaps less than 10% of the attendance which would have been expected had restrictions not been in place.

But those supporters who were inside the ground certainly made their presence felt as they roared their team on fervently and more than played their part on one of the most significant days in the club’s recent history.

Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton handed a debut to former Newcastle United defender Jamie Sterry and he slotted in seamlessly to a three-man defence which also included Dillon Morse and Blair Adams, while Osei was reintroduced to the starting line-up after coming on as a substitute in the midweek draw with Morpeth Town.

Shields started brightly and sensed some early joy as Osei linked up with Briggs and the midfielder looked set to pull the trigger on the edge of the box, only for an excellent tackle by Niall Maher to snuff out the opportunity.

Briggs – released into a more attacking role in this game – was a persistent threat to the Shaymen and almost fired his side into the lead 11 minutes in as Osei twisted and turned on the right before picking out Shields’ captain with a sublime cross to the back post, only for Maher again to prove his nemesis by blocking his volley on the goal-line.

There was another sight of goal for Briggs soon after as Osei again found him just outside the area after shrugging off his man, but this time the number eight’s left-foot strike was deflected by Nathan Clarke for a corner.

The Mariners thought they had scored the goal their enterprising play deserved midway through the first half when Osei drove through the middle and showed good composure to lay the ball off to Briggs, whose controlled cross was turned in by Jason Gilchrist from close range. The striker, though, had strayed beyond the final defender and so the assistant referee’s flag denied him the opener.

Undeterred by that blow, the Mariners continued to probe for a breakthrough and went desperately close to it again in the 32nd minute.

Adams played in Alex Kempster down the left and his cross was met by Gilchrist at the near post, only for Maher to again get in the way with a block which had more than a hint of handball about it. Briggs looked set to ram home the rebound but Danny Williams got there first and Halifax remained unbreached.

After scoreless and frustrating encounters with Matlock Town and Morpeth in their previous two outings, Shields must have been beginning to wonder whether this might be another one of those afternoons.

However, all such thoughts were banished in emphatic fashion seven minutes before the break.

Some fast-paced play saw Gilchrist released down the right and although his cross was over-hit, Kempster was able to retrieve it on the left flank and deliver a menacing ball which Osei met with a stunning header into the top corner as he deservedly notched his first goal at 1st Cloud Arena.

There was no let-up after that from the Mariners and they almost scored goal number two minutes later as Gilchrist’s cross from the right found Kempster at the back post and his sliding effort was sliced over his own bar by Neill Byrne, whose heart must have been in his mouth as the ball fizzed over the crossbar.

Halifax threatened an equaliser in the closing moments of the first half, with Maher drawing Myles Boney into a save with a strike from outside the box before the same player headed against the post from the resulting corner.

It was to be expected that Pete Wild’s side would produce a reaction in the second half and so it proved, particularly in the early stages of it.

They had a chance within a minute of the restart when a scooped ball into the box by Jeff King found Gold Omotayo and his half-volley went over the bar.

There was another opportunity as Kieran Green’s cross was powerfully headed wide by Williams while Boney kept out a long range effort from Martin Woods as Shields continued to weather the storm.

The hosts got through that difficult period and almost found their reward for it when Hunter’s low ball into the box was curled just wide by Osei but with 19 minutes left, Shields did get their nerve-settler.

So many players had come to the fore in this match for the Mariners but none more so than Briggs, who truly deserved his moment of magic which took his side within touching distance of the first round.

He showed real intelligence to beat his man on the right flank and then ghosted inside, beating a defender before picking out the bottom corner with a magnificently placed left-foot effort from the edge of the area.

Halifax were running out of time to force their way back into the tie and attempted to pressurise their hosts with a number of deliveries from wide areas, but Boney and his defence were equal to them as Shields comfortably saw out the final minutes to complete a historic victory.

They can now look forward to the first round draw ahead of Tuesday’s league fixture at home to FC United of Manchester.

South Shields: Boney, Sterry (Baxter 89), Adams, Ross, Morse, Turnbull, Hunter, Briggs (c), Gilchrist (Hindle 67), Osei (Verstraaten 90+2), Kempster. Subs not used: Coombe, Agnew, Gillies, McCamley.

Goals: Osei (38), Briggs (71).

Attendance: 300.

Image: Kev Wilson.