South Shields will take a one-goal lead into the second leg of the Buildbase FA Vase semi-final after Andrew Stephenson’s 90th minute goal secured a 2-1 win at Coleshill Town.
It was a tough afternoon for the Mariners in the Midlands, and they had to come from a goal behind at the break.
David Foley levelled things up early in the second half before Stephenson turned in the winner to spark joyous celebrations among the huge travelling support.
In truth, Shields had not been at their best for much of the encounter at Pack Meadow.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton opted not to risk Gavin Cogdon or Carl Finnigan from the start, after both sustained injuries in the Durham Challenge Cup semi-final win at Consett 11 days earlier. Both did, though, make the bench.
Shields made a decent opening to the game, and Foley sliced an early effort wide from distance as the visitors fired the first warning shot.
However, Coleshill grew to have the better of the first half, with Liam Connell called into action on a number of occasions in the Mariners’ goal.
His first job was to tip over a decent free-kick from home left-back Joshua Quaynor, while he also made a good stop from Robert Evans after a swivel and shot.
The dangerous Jordan Nadat also went close early on as he received the ball with his back to goal and turned well, before his effort was well blocked by Dillon Morse.
A further opportunity came Nadat’s way when a ball over the top saw him enter a foot race with Connell, and when the Shields goalkeeper got to it first, he blasted it against the striker and out for a goal kick.
The Mariners were dangerous when they broke into attacking areas, and one decent chance came when a cross field ball was controlled by Foley, who took a touch before hitting a low effort which was blocked.
Again, though, home goalkeeper Paul Hathaway was not called into serious action.
Connell made arguably his best save of the match soon after when Nadat fired towards the top corner from distance, with the Shields stopper pulling off a superb one-handed stop to force it out for a corner.
He was finally beaten in the 45th minute when Giovanni Dainty’s dangerous ball from the left was attacked by Nadat, and although Connell did brilliantly to beat it away, the striker was there to tuck in the rebound.
Shields needed to produce a strong response after half-time, and they did just that, delivering arguably their best spell of the match in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Darren Lough was a constantly useful attacking outlet down the left, and after good work from Foley, the left-back had the first shot of the second period smothered by Hathaway.
Lough was involved in the Mariners’ equaliser, which came in the 47th minute.
After a corner was half-cleared, Lough took the ball down and played it into the feet of Stephenson on the inside-left of the box. He sent an effort arrowing towards the bottom right corner, and when Hathaway managed to parry it, Foley showed great composure to take it down on the chest and then force it over the line.
Shields pushed on, and could have went in front when Craig Baxter’s cross from the right landed perfectly onto the head of Michael Richardson, but he nodded wide.
Slowly, Coleshill began to get more of a foothold in the second half as the game again became even.
The hosts almost retook the lead when Andre Gonzales’ right-wing cross looked to be heading into the top corner, only for Connell to claw it away from danger.
There were chances at both ends, with Foley firing over on the turn for Shields before Connell pushed a low free-kick from Thomas Weale around the post.
A golden opportunity fell to substitute Finnigan within nine minutes of his introduction as Robert Briggs played him in on goal, but Hathaway was quickly out to close the angle and did well to push it away.
If that was close, Coleshill went even closer at the other end when Nadat hammered an effort against the post from 10 yards, and Richardson was on hand to clear off the line when it bounced back across goal.
The game could have gone either way, with both teams desperate to take an advantage into the second leg at Mariners Park.
Julio Arca was in excellent, determined form for Shields, and when he produced a stunning nutmeg deep inside his own half, he sent a superb ball over the top for Foley to run onto. Hathaway got there first, but his clearance fell the way of Richardson, who saw his effort from 35 yards trickle agonisingly wide as the goalkeeper desperately tried to get back on his line.
Just as it appeared the tie may be level going into the second leg, the Mariners clicked into gear again.
Substitutes Finnigan and Alex Nicholson linked up on the right to send Foley bursting into the box, and his ball across goal was diverted towards the net by Lough and then in by Stephenson, who in truth knew little about it.
It may not have been pretty, but it was enough to get Shields’ noses in front.
It was an advantage they held onto until the end, despite two scrambles inside the Mariners’ penalty area in stoppage time.
At half-time in the tie, it is Shields who hold the one-goal lead, but it is still all to play for on Saturday at Mariners Park as the two teams again go head-to-head in the battle to reach Wembley.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Briggs, Phillips (Finnigan 61), Stephenson (Smith 90+1), Richardson (Nicholson 85), Foley. Subs not used: Storey, Cogdon.
Goals: Foley (47), Stephenson (90).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields reached the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history with a crushing 6-1 win over Newport Pagnell Town at an electric Mariners Park on Saturday.
Cheered on by a ground record crowd of 3,161, the Mariners produced a majestic display to make it 19 victories in a row.
David Foley and Wayne Phillips fired them 2-0 up with two superb strikes within the first six minutes, and further goals from Dillon Morse and Robert Briggs saw Shields take a commanding 4-0 lead into half-time.
Gavin Cogdon added a double after the break to seal the home side’s passage into the last four, with Newport pulling one back towards the end.
The Mariners now await Monday’s semi-final draw.
There was a carnival atmosphere at Mariners Park some three hours before kick-off on Saturday, with supporters piling into the ground for such a big occasion.
The Shields squad was even treated to a deafening roar as they departed the dressing room for their warm-up, with space in the stands and around the pitchside fence already very limited even at that early stage.
By the time the players entered the pitch before the game, the crowd was already in fine voice and ready to back their team to the hilt.
Newport Pagnell started well, though, as they aimed to silence the home support.
They were almost rewarded in just the second minute, but the appropriately-named Elliot Sandy was adjudged to have brought the ball down with his arm before prodding into the bottom corner.
If that was the jolt Shields needed, they certainly responded in style.
Foley collected the ball 10 yards inside the Newport half and twisted past one opponent before unleashing a left-foot piledriver which glanced in off the post to send Mariners Park into raptures.
The atmosphere was sent up another notch when Shields scored a second stunning goal inside the first six minutes.
Michael Richardson found Darren Lough just outside the box on the left, and he played the ball into the path of Phillips, who, urged to shoot by the crowd, did just that with the outside of his left foot and watched his effort drive into the corner of the net in another devastating show of quality.
Shields were rampant and in the mood to wrap up a place in the semi-finals quickly.
Cogdon had an effort deflected wide and Briggs hit one over, while a Craig Baxter shot from the edge of the box bounced in front of goalkeeper Mark Osbourne, who managed to divert it over the bar.
The third goal wasn’t long in arriving, though, and it came when Phillips swung in a terrific corner from the right which an unmarked Morse powerfully headed home from close range.
Within two minutes of that, the Mariners all but sealed their victory with another tremendous goal.
Richardson sprayed a superb pass out to the left which was expertly controlled by Cogdon and played through to the advancing Lough on the inside-left of the box. He swept the ball across the area, where Baxter claimed it and passed it on again to Briggs, who smashed it into the roof of the net with a brilliant strike.
Newport battled gamefully and the match understandably hit more of a lull before Shields burst back into life in the second half.
Briggs saw a free-kick tipped wide by Osbourne, while at the other end, Liam Connell saved a one-on-one from Darryl Smith after a loose pass at the back.
Suddenly, though, Cogdon was played in on goal and when he was brought down, the referee pointed to the spot.
Osbourne got a hand to Cogdon’s penalty, but the power meant it was always destined to reach the bottom-right corner. Cogdon celebrated in style with his trademark handstand – which was brought to an abrupt end thanks to a sneaky push from Phillips!
It was Cogdon’s 20th goal of the season, and he had to wait just six minutes more for number 21.
It was another picture-book effort, with Cogdon playing the ball into the feet of substitute Andrew Stephenson, who flicked it first-time over a defender’s head and into the path of his team-mate, who volleyed it sumptuously into the bottom corner.
Try as they might for a seventh goal, Shields just could not add to the scoring in the final 20 minutes.
Foley hit an effort not far wide, while substitute Carl Finnigan’s shot was destined for the net, only to hit team-mate Stephenson.
Morse went close twice – with one header cleared off the line – while Foley struck the post with a powerful low effort after being played in on the inside-right of the box.
In the end, it was the visitors who would have the final say on proceedings as their endeavours were rewarded.
Sandy twisted and turned inside the area, and then curled a superb effort into the top corner to give the travelling support something to cheer.
There was a whole lot more to cheer for the record-breaking home crowd, though, as Shields qualified for the last four of the FA Vase for the first time.
There is now great anticipation ahead of Monday’s draw.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Nicholson 57), Briggs, Phillips, Cogdon (Finnigan 71), Richardson (Stephenson 67), Foley. Subs not used: Storey, Holden.
Goals: Foley (3), Phillips (6), Morse (23), Briggs (25), Cogdon (pen 64, 70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields recorded an 18th consecutive victory with a comfortable 3-0 success against Chester-le-Street Town at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Goals from Jon Shaw, Gavin Cogdon and David Foley were enough as the Mariners closed the gap at the top of Northern League Division One to eight points.
Shields now have a week to prepare for Saturday’s FA Vase quarter-final against Newport Pagnell Town.
They had control of the game throughout against Chester-le-Street, with goalkeeper Liam Connell not being called on to make any saves of note.
Shields could have been ahead as early as the third minute, but when Foley played the ball to Michael Richardson, he could only curl wide from the edge of the box.
Robert Briggs also went close with a free-kick which bounced in front of goalkeeper Jack Wilson, who could only parry it as far as Shaw. However, the ball came at him quickly and he could only flick it onto the roof of the net.
The opening goal arrived on 18 minutes following an impressive short corner routine from the Mariners.
Alex Nicholson received the ball back from Cogdon after playing it short, and when he drifted it in to the back post, Shaw was quickest to react as he pounced to prod it home.
It was almost a quickfire double from the hosts, but after Cogdon nodded a corner into the path of Darren Lough, he could only head wide from close range.
Another opportunity came and went when Cogdon produced a sublime pass to release Foley, but he could not get enough on his shot and Wilson made a routine save.
The Mariners looked set to put daylight between themselves and Chester-le-Street on 37 minutes when Cogdon was fouled in the penalty area.
However, Julio Arca’s central spot-kick did not have enough on it to beat Wilson, who pushed it away to keep the Cestrians in with a fighting chance.
Shields piled on the pressure in the remainder of the first half, but Wayne Phillips flashed an effort not far wide of the top corner, Foley and Briggs were denied by Wilson and no one could convert after an excellent run and cross from Anthony Callaghan.
The Mariners had to wait until 10 minutes into the second half for the second goal to finally arrive.
Another short corner routine did the trick, with Phillips playing the ball to Arca before eventually receiving it back, cutting onto his left foot and sending in a terrific cross which Cogdon headed in from close range. It was Shields’ 100th league goal of the season.
They could have extended their lead further in the minutes which followed.
An exciting counter-attack led by Foley looked certain to end in goal number three, but he slightly over-hit his pass as Callaghan sprinted through.
Within moments, Foley saw a shot beaten away by Wilson, while Lough was denied by a block after the goalkeeper dropped the ball from a corner.
Cogdon showed some individual brilliance to beat a defender on the right touchline, run inside and shoot, but he could not find a way past Wilson.
An excellent team move produced the next chance for substitute Carl Finnigan, but after turning in the area, his shot did not have enough on it to beat the goalkeeper.
Fellow substitute Andrew Stephenson also curled a shot wide before Foley had a say on proceedings.
After receiving the ball on the left touchline, he carried it inside and beyond the defence before composing himself and smashing it past Wilson.
Arca almost added his name to the scoresheet late on, but his free-kick from 20 yards curled just past the upright.
Craig Baxter went close with a minute remaining when he got on the end of an impressive scooped pass from Stephenson, and he could only bundle the ball wide.
Finnigan also had an effort deflected wide as the game ticked into stoppage time, but the points were already wrapped up as Shields continued their fine form.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson (Baxter 77), Callaghan, Shaw, Lough, Arca (c), Briggs, Phillips, Cogdon (Finnigan 67), Richardson (Stephenson 58), Foley. Subs not used: Storey, Morse.
Goals: Shaw (16), Cogdon (55), Foley (82).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.