A late goal by Josh Gillies saw South Shields edge an entertaining and hard-fought encounter with FC United of Manchester at 1st Cloud Arena.
Gillies struck seven minutes from the end after some great work by fellow substitute Will McCamley as the Mariners secured an important three points which they just about deserved on the balance of play.
The game was not quite the goal-fest which ensued between these sides in March, when Shields emerged 5-3 winners, but it remained a high-quality tussle full of action between two fine teams who will hope to again be battling it out at the top of the table this season.
Although it was a relatively even game it was Shields who created the better opportunities and their first sight of goal came in the ninth minute as Alex Kempster’s drive from distance was deflected wide.
Both sides were intent on playing attractive football and there was some end-to-end action, with the Reds going close on 13 minutes when Jordan Simpson’s powerful low effort from 20 yards went not far past Myles Boney’s post.
Jamie Sterry and Jack Hindle were making their first league appearances for Shields and they linked up well with Jason Gilchrist before Sterry found himself in space on the right of the box, but his dangerous cross was cut out just before Kempster could slide it home.
Gilchrist had netted three times in two appearances against his former club last season but suffered a frustrating night in front of goal on this occasion. His first opportunity came after the Mariners broke well and Callum Ross dinked the ball superbly into his path, but his effort was blocked.
He did force a save from Dan Lavercombe soon after as he fired goalwards from a tight angle, and Blair Adams also forced a good stop from the visiting goalkeeper after some bright play down the Shields left.
Boney was called into action twice in the closing stages of the first half but was not seriously troubled and it was the Mariners back in the ascendancy after the break.
Ross was the first to threaten the FC United goal with a decent run inside from the right which resulted in a left-foot shot which went not far past the post.
Kempster went closer still when, after receiving the ball from Robert Briggs with his back to goal, he flicked it three times before swivelling and hitting an effort which crashed against the post.
It was a lively period of the match which featured chances and half opportunities at both ends, with Shields’ best two openings falling to Gilchrist as he was twice played in on goal. Lavercombe was equal to his first effort and the striker pulled his second chance wide.
The Mariners continued to be frustrated when captain Jon Shaw’s header was cleared off the line and Briggs had two shots saved, while a low ball across the box by Gillies just evaded a touch as time started to slowly slip away.
The vital moment eventually arrived on 83 minutes as McCamley ghosted into some space in the box, turned well and forced a decent reaction stop by Lavercombe only for the ball to break to Gillies, who showed good composure to finish from close range.
Shields saw out the remainder of the 90 minutes well to claim a third consecutive clean sheet as they climbed to eighth in the table.
Next up is a home tie against Colne in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday.
South Shields: Boney, Sterry, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Ross, Hindle (Gillies 55), Turnbull (Verstraaten 89), Gilchrist (McCamley 80), Briggs, Kempster. Subs not used: Coombe, Baxter.
Goal: Gillies (83).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields take on FC United of Manchester on Tuesday as both sides look to kickstart their league campaigns.
The pair were the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s top two when the 2019-20 season was brought to a premature conclusion but have saved much of their exploits so far this term for the Emirates FA Cup, with both qualifying for the first round.
They each go into Tuesday’s fixture at 1st Cloud Arena sitting in the bottom half of the table but after morale-boosting victories over higher-league opposition in the cup on Saturday, confidence is not expected to be an issue for either team.
It is a rematch of March’s classic encounter which saw the Mariners win 5-3 in what proved to be the final match of the campaign, in front of an incredible crowd of over 3,000.
Current restrictions mean this game will be played in front of just 300 spectators, with Shields season ticket holders in bubble 2 (those with a surname which starts between M and Z, as well as those who opted out of the Radcliffe fixture earlier this month) eligible to attend, along with FC United supporters who bought tickets from their club’s allocation.
FC United remain unbeaten in the league but have drawn four of their first five fixtures, while Shields are 12th having won two and drawn three of their seven league matches.
It could prove to be an important encounter.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton said: “FC United come here boasting an unbeaten record so far this season and we cannot afford for the match to be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show.
“Both sides enjoy playing the game in what I would consider to be the right way, and for the lucky 300 who are in attendance I’m in no doubt that it will be another action-packed encounter with plenty of goalmouth action, hopefully more in their box than ours.
“There was an unbelievable atmosphere at Saturday’s game against FC Halifax Town, despite the fact we were only allowed to admit 300 supporters.
“The energy and passion that they transmitted to the team was incredible and it was hugely appreciated by everyone at the club, and without a doubt the players themselves.
“Hopefully in stages of Tuesday’s game we can give the supporters that are here the encouragement they need to react in exactly the same way and we can bounce off each other to help inspire another victory.”
Kick-off in Tuesday’s game is at 7.45pm and the stream coverage will get started at 7.15pm. This is the link to follow to sign-up for and access the stream: https://bit.ly/2Trmexe
Supporters will be able to watch Tuesday’s Pitching In Northern Premier League match between South Shields and FC United of Manchester via a live stream.
Pre-match coverage will get underway at 7.15pm and will feature an interview with Mariners joint manager Lee Picton before the game gets underway at 7.45pm.
The stream can be accessed via the following link: https://bit.ly/2Trmexe
Season ticket holders
Season ticket holders in bubble one – which mainly consists of those with surnames beginning with a letter between A and L – are entitled to watch the stream for free.
Those who have received their account details previously are advised that those details remain the same and you can log into your account and access the game via the stream link above.
Anyone who has applied for a free stream and has not received login details are advised to check their email inbox as well as their junk and spam folders. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not previously applied for a free stream.
If you can’t find your details, click on the below link, type in your email address as the username, click submit and wait for the reset password email (again please check all email folders). If the reset password email does go to spam/junk you will need to move it back into your inbox folder before proceeding.
Once the system has confirmed your new password, try and log in again via the Insight4 website.
Non-season ticket holders
Any non-season ticket holders, or season ticket holders in the bubble which is eligible to attend this fixture, can access the game via this link: https://bit.ly/2Trmexe
If you already have an account having purchased a previous stream, please login using those details and you will be required to enter your card details and pay £5 to access the stream. Please ensure you follow the correct game link. Once the payment is processed you will be taken to a page which is titled “South Shields vs FC United of Manchester” and the stream will begin there at 7.15pm.
If you have not previously registered, you will be required to register after clicking the live stream link before being taken to the paywall.
A reminder that this is the correct game link: https://bit.ly/2Trmexe
Thank you for your continued support and enjoy the game.