South Shields academy lifted their first national trophy after overcoming Basford United on penalties on a dramatic night in Walsall on Wednesday.
In the first of a double-header of national finals for the young Mariners, Shields deservedly took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to a sweet strike by Arron Thompson.
Basford gained a foothold in the second half, though, and two goals in four minutes from Kyeron Daws turned the game on its head and tested Shields’ character.
They responded in superb style, though, and almost immediately brought themselves back on level terms with a terrific finish by David Allasan into the top corner.
The match ultimately went to penalties, with Tom Bexton, Thompson, Olly Scott, Jake Dunn and Callum Guy all converting from the spot, while Jacob Bramley saved one spot-kick to deliver the young Mariners their first trophy: the National League Under-19 Alliance League Cup.
Shields started brightly at the Banks’s Stadium and almost took the lead early on when Scott fired a ball across the area which Allasan turned over after a fine run.
Max Cowburn saw two efforts saved before the Mariners took the lead in the 26th minute.
Thompson showed patience in the middle before playing in Allasan on the right of the box, and although goalkeeper Dennell Stokes kicked away his shot, Thompson rifled home the rebound from just inside the area.
Bramley made an impressive save from Niall Hylton before half-time but that was a rare opportunity for Basford, with Guy and Cowburn both going close at the other end.
The young Mariners went close to doubling their advantage 10 minutes into the second half when substitute Dom Minchella motored down the left and squeezed in a low cross for Guy, who was denied by the legs of Stokes.
Another opportunity came and went as a Ben Errington header from a Minchella free-kick was tipped onto the bar and the ball bounced back to him. Shields felt Errington was fouled in the aftermath, but the referee waved away the protests.
Basford equalised against the run of play in the 64th minute when Zak Goodson beat his man on the left of the box before hitting an effort against the post, and Daws was there to finish off the rebound.
Daws made it a quickfire double just four minutes later as a rebound from a free-kick fell to his feet and he rifled the ball home.
Shields’ response was instant and they almost levelled things up within a minute as Guy got in behind on the left and fired a ball into the area which Michael Colquhoun turned over.
They did not have to wait too much longer to make it 2-2, though, and the crucial goal arrived when Guy beat the defence with a terrific through ball and Allasan rifled it into the top corner from the right of the area.
Shields had a number of chances to win it before the 90 minutes were up, but Guy, Minchella and Scott were all frustrated as their efforts went just past the post.
The final therefore went to penalties, but the young Mariners ultimately held their nerve to make it a memorable night.
SSFC Academy: Bramley, Morris (Allen 59), Scott, Thompson, Errington, Bexton (c), Allasan, Carney (Dunn 82), Colquhoun (Marcelino 73), Guy, Cowburn (Minchella 53). Sub not used: Armstrong.
Goals: Thompson (26), Allasan (71).
South Shields continued their match in the National League Under-19 Alliance with a narrow win over Halifax Town on Wednesday.
The match, which was played at the home of Wallsend Boys Club, was settled by a goal from David Allasan in the first half.
It was a hard-fought encounter as Halifax gave as good as they got in the second half, particularly, but they were unable to beat Shields goalkeeper Jacob Bramley as the young Mariners sealed their seventh consecutive victory in the competition.
The win left the J Shipley & Co Heating Ltd-sponsored young Mariners third in the table, one point behind second-placed Gateshead with three games in hand.
Leaders Guiseley hold an eight point lead on Shields, but have played two more matches.
Joint manager Graham Fenton is delighted with the form of the youngsters, particularly the way they have adapted to playing an identical system to that played by the first-team over recent months.
He said: “The lads are doing well.
“Over the last two or three months, they have adapted well to playing the same shape as the first-team.
“That will have knock-on benefits if and when players get opportunities with the first-team.
“They will have a better understanding of their role within the team and what it entails.
“They have generally done very well with understanding the system and what is expected of them.”
Fenton was satisfied with the performance against Halifax.
He added: “We dominated the first half possession-wise and through the first two-thirds of the pitch, we were very good.
“We were a little bit wasteful in the final third because if we had turned some of the decent situations we had into clear-cut chances, we could have scored a few more before half-time.
“Fair play to Halifax, because in the second half they came back into it and caused a few problems, without making Jacob do much.
“The second half was more even but on the overall balance of play, we thoroughly deserved to win.
“One real bit of quality won us the game, with a good bit of movement and finish from David Allasan.
“We were limited to options due to a lot of injuries and illnesses, so it was a really pleasing result all things considered.”
SSFC Academy team against Halifax: Bramley, Biwer, Lockey, Thompson, Patterson, Onarbay, Black, Guy, Allasan, Cowburn, McCamley. Subs: Errington, Croft, Elcoate, Jenkins, Colquhoun.
South Shields progressed to the fifth round of the National League Under-19 Alliance League Cup with a superb 5-2 win at Mansfield Town on Wednesday.
The young Mariners have been in terrific form and continued that with a fine showing in Nottinghamshire.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side were in command in the first half, racing into a 4-1 lead.
Goals from Sam Hodgson, David Allasan, Olly Scott and Ethan Biwer did the damage as Shields took what appeared to be an unassailable advantage into the second half.
Mansfield responded well after the break, but a goal from substitute Dom Minchella wrapped up an impressive victory for the Mariners as they marched into the next round.
Picton was satisfied with the performance of his team.
He said: “We played some really attractive stuff at times, particularly in the first half.
“We led 4-1 at half-time and unfortunately allowed our levels to drop a little bit in the second half, but we still had enough to see out the victory.
“Overall it was a very pleasing performance and one we can take great heart from.
“For us to travel that far and come away with a result like this is brilliant.
“Fingers crossed we get a good home draw in the next round to give us the best possible opportunity of progressing further.”
SSFC Academy team to face Mansfield Town: Bramley, Biwer, Devine, Bexton, Onarbay, Lockey, Thompson, Scott, Hodgson, Guy, Allasan. Subs: Patterson, Elcoate, Minchella, Colquhoun.
Goals: Hodgson, Allasan, Scott, Biwer, Minchella.
The club’s Under-19s are also in fine form in the league, and sit third in the table heading into their next fixture, away to Eccleshill United on Wednesday, January 30.
They are 11 points behind leaders Guiseley with three games in hand, and six points behind second-placed Gateshead, who have played four more games.
The young Mariners’ most recent outing in the league saw them come from behind to defeat York City 2-1 at Silksworth Sports Complex on Wednesday, January 9.
After falling behind, Max Cowburn drew Shields level on 73 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.
The young Mariners finally got their rewards against impressive opposition when Sam Hodgson netted the winner 13 minutes from the end as Shields leapfrogged their opponents in the table.
It promises to be an exciting end to the season for the Under-19s as they battle for silverware on two fronts.