South Shields secured their first win of the season on Tuesday as they deservedly beat Seaham Red Star 2-1.
The Mariners had been winless in their opening four competitive games of the campaign.
However, they looked in good form against Red Star, despite a nervy ending in front of a Mariners Park crowd of 916.
Before the game, Shields announced Michael Turner had left the club because of work commitments, and Julio Arca slotted into his place at left-back.
He was heavily involved early in proceedings, with his dangerous delivery from the left headed behind under pressure.
Shields took a nerve-settling lead in the 10th minute as David Palmer released Barrie Smith down the right, and his cross was headed in by Gavin Cogdon for his fourth goal in as many games.
Cogdon was a constant threat against Red Star, although worryingly for Shields fans, he limped off in stoppage time with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
After Cogdon’s goal, the Mariners looked in the mood to kill the game off early, but they couldn’t add a second despite creating several openings.
Jon Shaw went the closest when his shot was cleared off the line, and Palmer also had an effort saved.
To their credit, Seaham did not let their heads drop, but at times they were unable to get out of their own half as Shields played some superb football.
Palmer curled a shot just wide and Arca hit a free-kick just over, and the Mariners went into half-time wondering how they had not extended their advantage.
After failing to create a clear-cut chance in the first half, Seaham almost equalised less than a minute into the second when Thomas Price got in behind and flicked an effort not far wide.
Shields were struggling to get their football flowing as well as it had been in the first half, but they burst back into action when they added their second goal on 64 minutes.
Palmer received the ball in the box with his back to ball, turned and then fired into the bottom corner as he netted against his former club.
David Foley went close to sealing the win soon after when he drove at the visiting defence, but his low shot was well held by Shaun Newbrook.
With 15 minutes left, any hopes of a Seaham comeback appeared as good as over when defender Dan Kirkup was given a straight red card for a reckless foul on Cogdon.
However, the visitors regrouped, and possessed more of a threat with 10 men as Shields retreated.
They gave themselves a lifeline in the 77th minute when they capitalised on a mistake at the back, and Paul Gardiner rolled the ball home.
Seaham then put their hosts under some real pressure, but Shields held out for the three points, much to the delight of the large home support.
They will look to build on their victory over the weekend, with trips to Chester-le-Street Town on Saturday and Penrith on Monday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Arca, Storey, Danny Carson, David Carson, Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Briggs 71), Shaw, Cogdon (Morse 90+2), Foley (Phillips 68). Subs not used: Elliott, Byrne.
Goals: Cogdon (10), Palmer (64).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields’ frustrating start to the season continued on Saturday as they conceded a stoppage time equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Whitley Bay.
The Mariners turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead with seven minutes left when David Palmer put them in front.
However, they could not hold on for the three points, with the hosts scoring from a deep free-kick to take a share of the spoils.
The draw left Shields with two points from their opening three league games of the season, all of which have been away from home.
With Julio Arca unavailable, Palmer came into the Mariners’ side to make his first competitive appearance for the club.
The visitors started decently at Hillheads, and had an early penalty appeal for handball waved away before Gavin Cogdon drilled an effort wide from 20 yards.
He had a glorious opportunity to put Shields ahead soon after as he latched onto a ball over the top from Michael Turner, but he could only hit his effort past the post.
Eventually, it was the hosts who took the lead in the 25th minute. Chris McDonald picked the ball up 30 yards out, and his early strike seemed to surprise Mariners goalkeeper Chris Elliott as it squirmed under him and into the net.
Shields responded well to that setback, and were back on level terms within six minutes.
After Leepaul Scroggins had a shot deflected wide, Palmer’s corner from the right was headed back into his path by Turner. Palmer then guided a sublime ball into the centre which Cogdon headed back across goal and in to claim his third goal in as many games.
The Mariners were unable to build on that in the remainder of the first half, with the dangerous Andrew Robertson almost creating a second goal for Whitley Bay when he impressively beat his man in the area before smashing a cross across goal which could easily have been diverted in.
Six minutes before the break, the home side were back ahead when Shields were caught out by a short corner, and the cross from the right was headed past Elliott by Adam Shanks.
That left the visitors despondent and going into half-time with a deficit, but they returned to the field with renewed purpose.
Assistant manager Lee Picton was particularly vocal with his instructions from the touchline, and the Mariners responded well as they showed more patience in possession and made more of an influence in the final third.
Their bright start to the second period was rewarded when David Carson collected the ball on the inside-left of the box, beat his man and then curled a superb shot into the opposite corner to bring the visitors level.
Shields went close to a second goal in as many minutes when Palmer delivered an impressive cross from the right, and Jon Shaw was just unable to get on the end of it with goalkeeper Tom Flynn beaten.
Louis Storey was the next to threaten, with his header going over the top, while the game then became increasingly bad-tempered, with several incidents near the halfway line causing some controversy.
The Mariners were having much the better of the half, and Cogdon and Scroggins both went close to a breakthrough before Palmer was denied by a superb save by Flynn.
Flynn couldn’t keep Palmer off the scoresheet for long, though, and Shields got the luck which had eluded them with seven minutes remaining.
Carson’s pass from outside the box cannoned into the path of Palmer, who was calmness personified in the box as he slotted it past Flynn to seemingly give the Mariners’ season a kickstart.
However, they were unable to kill the game off, despite threatening a number of times on the break in what was left of the match.
Suddenly, the hosts started to give Shields problems again, and they almost profited from a long throw from the left, only for the ball to eventually bounce into the grateful hands of Elliott.
He held two efforts from distance as the clock ticked beyond the 90 minute mark, but the award of a free-kick to Whitley Bay 10 yards inside the Shields half signalled a warning sign.
The ball was lofted into the box and bounced in the area, and when the Mariners were unable to deal with it, Ross Wilkinson punished them with aplomb with a superb strike into the top corner.
In the end, Shields could have lost the game, which would have been a hammer blow. However, in the last action of the match, another free-kick from a similar position for the hosts was headed towards goal and cleared off the line by Storey, which was the signal for the referee to blow the final whistle.
The draw left Shields on two points ahead of their first home match of the season, against Seaham Red Star, on Tuesday. Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 7.30pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Elliott, Smith, Turner, Storey, Danny Carson, David Carson, Palmer, Scroggins (c), Shaw, Cogdon, Foley (Briggs 76). Subs not used: Carmichael, Riding, Morse, Byrne.
Goals: Cogdon (31), David Carson (53), Palmer (83).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Warren Byrne and David Palmer were among the goals as South Shields Reserves made it two Wearside League victories in a row with a 4-0 win over Seaham Red Star Reserves on Monday.
Both players got a full 90 minutes under their belts at Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground, with Byrne scoring twice and Palmer once, while Olly Martin was also on the scoresheet.
It is now two wins from their opening three league fixtures for Shields, following on from last week’s impressive 2-1 triumph at Cleator Moor Celtic.
They were superb at times against Seaham, and early chances fell the way of Byrne and Dominic Soulsby, who were both denied.
Joss Carmichael, another first-team player getting game-time for the reserves, made a good save after that from Michael Bulmer to keep Shields level, with the Seaham forward hitting the rebound into the side netting.
Shields always looked the likelier to open the scoring, and visiting goalkeeper Shay Adamson had to make an excellent low save from Byrne to prevent them doing that.
On 23 minutes, though, the Mariners went ahead as Ewan Simpson’s fine cross from the left was finished off by Byrne at the back post.
Palmer’s goal 10 minutes later was similar, with Byrne playing the ball to Matthew Davidson on the inside-left of the box before he crossed into the centre, where Palmer had a tap-in.
Byrne and Palmer both hit efforts wide in the closing stages of the first half, and in the second half, Shields continued their dominance.
They were rewarded with a third goal when the ball broke to Martin in the area, and he made no mistake as he slotted it past Adamson.
Both sides had good opportunities in the closing stages, with Byrne denied twice for the Mariners, as was substitute Jonny Hope, while at the other end, Wesley Smith dinked a shot just over.
Byrne completed the scoring with his second of the night three minutes before the end when he latched onto a header forward by Ryan Bolam before rolling the ball into the bottom corner.
The reserves are in action again on Wednesday against Harton and Westoe, with kick-off at the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground at 6.30pm. Admission is £2.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Whelan, Sinclair (Marsden 82), Crutwell (c), Simpson, Tonge, Palmer, Davidson, Byrne, Martin (Hope 82), Soulsby (Bolam 69). Subs not used: Richardson, Cossar.
Goals: Byrne (23, 87), Palmer (33), Martin (57).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.