South Shields suffered heartbreak in the Durham FA County Cup final on Sunday as Durham Cestria ran out 6-1 winners.
The Mariners have been impressive in recent weeks and made a great account of themselves during their cup run.
They suffered an early blow at Harton Welfare, though, as Erin Williams-Brown was forced off in the early stages of the game with a leg injury and Megan Archibold volunteered to be the stand-in goalkeeper.
Durham took the lead early in the game as Abby Towers did well to cut out a cross but the ball bounced off the post and in fortunate circumstances, the visitors had the ball in the net.
They doubled their lead when a speculative effort was curled into the top corner and when a third goal arrived shortly after, it was shaping up to be a tall order for Shields.
Archibold made a brilliant save to keep the Mariners in the game but Durham did add a fourth just before the break, as they scored a great free-kick that was just out of Archibold‘s reach.
The game was put out of sight as a threaded ball through the defence found the Durham forward, who finished via the post.
Annece Legg pulled one back almost immediately for Shields. Some great pressing of the Durham back line resulted in the goalkeeper taking a poor touch, and Legg made her pay by stealing the ball and finishing the chance.
Shields continued to press to get themselves back in the game as the second half continued.
Durham had a half-chance as the striker ran through on goal, but Alex Miller did just enough to put her off as she fired over the bar.
The opposition then added a sixth as a well-executed one-two allowed the striker to run through on goal and she slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Eve Gattens had a chance with a free-kick from close range. She tried to go under the wall, but the goalkeeper read it and held onto the effort.
There were further chances for Durham to extend their lead but they hit the post with one chance, were denied by a fantastic save by Archibold and then struck the crossbar with a whipped free-kick as the scoring ended at six.
Shields head coach Scott Curtis said: “I firstly want to say congratulations to Durham.
“I think we matched them for the last hour of the game, but they were the better team for the first 30.
“We are disappointed to not come away as winners, but I am proud of each and every player, and we will come back stronger.
“There were some positive signs for sure and we can only improve.”
Silverware will be on the line for South Shields when they take on Durham Cestria in the final of the Durham FA Women’s Cup on Sunday.
The match will kick-off at 1pm at Harton Welfare, with the Mariners going into it having dispatched Gateshead 4-1 in the semi-final last weekend in front of a bumper crowd.
Support would again be welcomed at the final, with admission costing £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.