Gary Brown has completed a move to West Auckland Town for an undisclosed fee.

The 33-year-old, who joined South Shields from Darlington in 2018, had become a real favourite at 1st Cloud Arena for his committed displays, but has opted to leave for family and work reasons.

Last season’s Supporters’ and Club Player of the Year made 63 appearances in claret and blue, and leaves the Mariners with the best wishes of all involved.

Shields joint manager Lee Picton said: “Gary came to us requesting a transfer because he felt he was really struggling to balance all the commitments he had with work, family and playing football at this level.

“We were obviously really disappointed because we didn’t want Gary to leave due to the massive influence he has been on and off the pitch since joining us two years ago.

“From our perspective as a management team, Gary was an absolute pleasure to work with.

“His infectious personality and leadership will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of working with him at the club over the last two years.

“Gary moves on to the next challenge in his football career with nothing but our best wishes.

“He will always be welcome at 1st Cloud Arena.”

Everyone at South Shields FC would like to thank Gary for his commitment over the last two years and wish him all the very best moving forwards.

A late equaliser denied South Shields a superb Buildbase FA Trophy first round win over National League North side Southport at Mariners Park.

After going in at half-time a goal behind, a pulsating second half performance from the Mariners put them 2-1 ahead.

Gary Brown equalised before Jason Gilchrist netted what looked like it might be the winner against his former club.

Southport hit back with an equaliser from substitute Raul Correia, though, meaning the teams will have to do it all again in a replay at Haig Avenue on Tuesday.

The suspended Nathan Lowe was replaced in the Shields line-up by teenager Arron Thompson in the only change made by Lee Picton and Graham Fenton to the team which drew 1-1 with Warrington Town in the league a week earlier.

They started on the front foot against a Southport side which sits fourth in the National League North.

Gilchrist fired a dangerous low ball across the area from the left which narrowly evaded a touch and a lob from Robert Briggs just failed to clear visiting goalkeeper Charlie Albinson.

The Sandgrounders did not threaten the Shields goal before taking the lead against the run of play on 14 minutes.

It was a clinical moment from the away side as Bradley Bauress peeled off into some space on the left and delivered a terrific cross which Jack Sampson powerfully headed past Myles Boney.

Shields regrouped and had an opportunity to equalise 10 minutes later when Briggs found Gilchrist on the right of the area and he drilled an effort wide.

At the other end, Boney made a smart stop from Sampson, who also had a shot deflected wide as Southport looked to double their advantage.

The score remained unchanged heading into half-time, after which the Mariners cranked up their performance and applied consistent pressure on their opponents.

Gilchrist had a header saved after a good link-up with Jon Shaw and Brown had an effort kept out by Albinson after he got on the end of a Briggs free-kick.

Thompson struck over from distance as Shields continued to press, and they got their reward in the 66th minute when a deft cross from Phil Turnbull was met by Craig Baxter and saved by Albinson before Brown rammed home the rebound after responding quickly.

The Mariners sensed blood and just seven minutes later found themselves in front when Turnbull fed a superb ball through to Gilchrist on the right of the box and he finished coolly with a dink as he netted the goal he had been threatening.

At that stage there appeared only one winner but the withdrawal of Brown with a dead leg unsettled Shields somewhat, despite his replacement Will Jenkins making an impressive contribution.

Captain David Morgan could have equalised with 10 minutes left for Southport but fired wide from 12 yards.

The visitors did draw level soon after, though, when Shields failed to clear a corner and after a short scramble substitute Raul Correia slammed the ball home.

There were chances at both ends for a winner, with superb blocks denying Gilchrist and Millenic Alli for the Mariners, and Boney producing an excellent save as he pushed a header onto the bar.

The final whistle signalled the end of a thrilling cup tie and the teams will now have to do it all again on Tuesday, with Southport this time enjoying home advantage.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Charlton (Alli 56), Turnbull, Morse, Brown (Jenkins 77), Thompson, Baxter, Gilchrist, Briggs (Mason 71), Shaw (c). Subs not used: Coombe, Wade, Odelusi, Hodgson.

Goals: Brown (66), Gilchrist (73).

Attendance: 776.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.

A blitz of four goals in nine first half minutes ended Bamber Bridge’s resistance as South Shields recorded a comfortable win at Mariners Park on Saturday.

The game was well poised before Gary Brown opened the scoring for the Mariners just before the half hour mark with a deflected effort from the edge of the box.

That was the cue for the floodgates to open as Shields swarmed over their opponents, with Adam Thurston doubling the lead before Lee Mason notched the third and Josh Gillies added another from the penalty spot.

Bamber Bridge pulled one back in the second half through a penalty of their own, but were unable to find a way back into it.

It was a welcome return to winning ways for Shields, who moved up to third in the table.

Shields welcomed Thurston and David Foley back into the starting line-up after they recovered from hamstring and groin injuries respectively.

Both teams struggled to find an early rhythm as they contended with blustery conditions which led to a series of passes going astray.

There were half chances at both ends before Bamber Bridge created the best opportunity on 20 minutes when a free-kick from deep on the left found Kieran Charnock in the six-yard box, but he could only volley over.

Shields tested visiting goalkeeper Lloyd Rigby for the first time as Foley came in from the right before forcing a decent save, and just a minute later, they found the breakthrough.

A corner from Gillies was half-cleared and the ball eventually broke to Brown, whose effort from the edge of the box took a huge deflection to beat Rigby.

That led to a barrage of Shields attacks and they repeatedly got their rewards as they put the game to bed.

They had to wait just three more minutes to double their lead as Blair Adams drove inside from the left and played the ball into the feet of Thurston, who drilled it into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The third goal soon arrived following some superb football from the Mariners as they worked the ball through to Nathan Lowe on the right of the box and he whipped in a tremendous low cross which Mason converted from close range.

More terrific play from the hosts led to Gillies being fouled in the box soon after, and he picked himself up to rattle the ball into the top corner from the spot as the points were made safe.

It could have been five for Shields before the break, but Foley was denied by Rigby after being found by Thurston and the goalkeeper also kept out a piledriver from distance by Brown.

The Mariners went close again seven minutes into the second half as Lowe’s low cross found Mason but the ball bounced just past the post.

Shields introduced new signing Jordan Annear in Mason’s place shortly after, but the visitors pulled one back from the spot when Adams was adjudged to have fouled in the box and Alistair Waddecar stroked the penalty home.

Gillies was denied by an impressive save from Rigby and Annear was inches away from marking his debut with a goal as he was just unable to connect with a ball across the face of goal by Foley.

Rigby also saved from Lowe, who hit the bar in stoppage time when his cross deceived the goalkeeper.

The final whistle was blown soon after as Shields’ victory was confirmed.

They take a break from league action next Saturday when they host Colne in the first qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter (Baxter 46), Adams (c), Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Gillies, Lowe, Mason (Annear 57), Thurston (Briggs 75), Foley. Subs not used: Guy, Alli.

Goals: Brown (29), Thurston (32), Mason (35), Gillies (pen 38).

Attendance: 1,231.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.