South Shields recorded their third successive clean sheet at the start of the season as they drew 0-0 with Hyde United in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
Chances were few and far between at Ewen Fields but the Mariners remained solid at the back to continue their positive start to the campaign.
Shields’ start to the game offered a glimpse into the quality just waiting to burst through.
The Mariners kept the ball superbly and looked in mean mood, with their hosts unable to gain a foothold as the Mariners probed.
Their strong opening was halted when they were forced into a 20th minute change, with Blair Adams withdrawn due to a dead leg and Craig Baxter his replacement.
That seemed to knock Shields off their stride, although last-ditch tackles were all that denied Josh Gillies and Nathan Lowe clear strikes at goal as they searched for a breakthrough.
The elusive first shot of the game arrived on 33 minutes, with Gillies drifting inside from the left before curling an effort which did not threaten to trouble home goalkeeper Joe Green.
At the other end, Hyde’s first sight of goal was a 20 yard free-kick by Paddy Lane which comfortably cleared the crossbar.
A goal did appear a more likely prospect at this stage and Shields almost provided it with six minutes remaining in the first half.
Jordan Hunter bravely nicked the ball ahead of a defender in the penalty area and with space opening up for him, opted to pull it back to Gillies rather than shoot. Gillies’ first-time effort lacked the power required to beat Green as the goalkeeper made a low save.
Robert Briggs also had a half-chance just before the break when Darius Osei teed him up on the edge of the box, but he sliced his shot wide.
Hyde showed an improved threat going forward in the second half although the start to the half suggested Shields were the likelier to score, with Hunter again breaking free down the right before firing a ball across which had just too much on it for Jason Gilchrist.
Lane was Hyde’s biggest threat and he sent a low shot wide from the right before a dangerous free-kick from the same player was crucially headed over his own bar by Shaw.
There were few clear-cut opportunities at either end as the second half progressed, although both sides had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the closing stages.
In truth, a penalty or set-piece would have been the most likely route to goal the longer the game went and in the end, a point apiece was a fair result at Ewen Fields.
Shields are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Ashton United in the league, before an FA Cup trip to the same opponents four days later.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Baxter 20), Shaw (c), Morse, Ross, Gillies (Verstraaten 82), Briggs, Gilchrist, Lowe, Osei (Mason 79). Subs not used: Jenkins, McCamley.
South Shields travel to Hyde United on Saturday as the Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign continues.
The two sides experienced contrasting opening days, with Shields defeating Mickleover 3-0 at 1st Cloud Arena while Hyde were beaten 2-0 at Gainsborough Trinity.
The capacity of Ewen Fields has been set at 600 for the fixture, 90 of which have been set aside for Shields supporters. Most of them were sold from the club office at 1st Cloud Arena during the week but a limited number of tickets remain available by clicking here. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended.
Supporters are advised that parking is expected to be at a premium at Ewen Fields, with enough space to accommodate the official team coach only. Supporters’ coaches and cars will need to be parked away from the ground.
In usual circumstances, the adjacent car park at the leisure centre on Walker Lane would be used for matchday parking, but the sight is undergoing some building works and being used as a flu jab centre, so the normal space there is also limited.
Shields go into the game in high spirits, having followed up their win over Mickleover with a victory on penalties over Warrington Town in the Emirates FA Cup in midweek.
Joint manager Lee Picton said: “The overriding emotion from myself, Graham (Fenton) and all the staff on Tuesday was one of absolute pride.
“There were a lot of different things thrown at us, but the lads showed a huge amount of courage with and without the ball.
“We asked the whole team to find higher levels than they showed last Saturday, when we were obviously pleased with the result but felt there was a lot more to come.
“We got that in bucket-loads on Tuesday, when the intensity and quality of the play was brilliant.”
Hyde were beaten 2-0 on the opening day by Gainsborough Trinity last Saturday, but beat Shields in the sides’ only meeting last season and have been involved in several tight tussles with the Mariners over recent years.
Their manager, Dave McGurk, is an individual Picton says he has “huge respect” for.
He knows the kind of test which awaits Shields on Saturday.
Picton added: “Dave will have his side well-organised and they have a few new faces in their camp this season.
“They will provide without doubt another really tough test for us on the road.
“It’s also on an artificial surface, which brings another different challenge to us but we’re thoroughly looking forward to the game and go into it with a huge amount of confidence.”
Shields have a doubt over Sam Hodgson, who limped off in Tuesday’s game with a knock picked up in the first half.
His replacement at Cantilever Park was Darius Osei, who is finding his way back to full fitness after missing much of pre-season through injury.
Picton said: “There’s no secret that Darius Osei has had one or two little injury issues.
“We felt we just had to do the sensible thing with him at Warrington.
“He has had a little bit of a lay-off and got through about 65 minutes on Saturday.
“To put him straight in the firing line again three days later and potentially ask him to play 90 minutes, we felt would be a bit too much of a risk given his quality and the impact we feel he could have on the rest of the season for us.
“When he came on he was fantastic, as were so many – if not all – of our players with the way they went about their business.”
Kick-off at Ewen Fields is at 3pm.
Hyde United inflicted South Shields’ first defeat of the season in a tight game at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Liam Tongue’s goal midway through the second half ended the Mariners’ 100% start to the campaign in front of a crowd of more than 1,200.
Shields – without a number of key players – had a series of efforts on goal but were unable to find a way past visiting goalkeeper Luke Mewitt.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton handed first starts to four Shields players, with Jordan Hunter, Kieran Charlton, Lee Connelly and Millenic Alli all brought into the line-up.
They started brightly amid a superb atmosphere at Mariners Park, and Mewitt was forced to palm a Hunter cross over the bar after it looked set to loop in.
From the resulting corner, Hunter’s fellow Sunderland loanee Connelly had a shot blocked as the Mariners began to exert some pressure.
Hyde fired Shields a warning when a Jacko Hardacre effort from distance was turned behind by a vital interception from Gary Brown.
The Mariners were frustrated by a number of blocks at the other end, with Connelly and Briggs among those denied, while Hunter drilled the ball just over with a powerful effort from 20 yards.
The home side were not having it all their own way, though, and were indebted to Charlton for keeping the scores level 10 minutes before half-time when his superb block denied Dan Turner.
Shields had two strong penalty appeals turned down before the break and went close again as an Alli cross looked set to be headed in by Nathan Lowe, only for a defender to just get there first.
Tongue whistled a shot from 25 yards into the side netting at the other end but Shields were edging proceedings, and almost went into the lead on the stroke of half-time as a Josh Gillies shot looked destined for the bottom corner before being deflected behind.
The Mariners started the second half well, too, with Mewitt forced to parry away a dangerous low cross from Alli, Hunter firing wide from distance and Connelly getting in behind on the right before being denied by the goalkeeper.
Hyde began to grow in confidence as the second half progressed, though, and fired their first warning as Lowe was forced to block well from Dan O’Brien.
The away side took the lead in the 70th minute when they attacked in numbers and the ball was pulled back to Tongue, who rifled into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The Mariners looked for an immediate response and almost got it when a superb cross from the right by Gillies was forced out for a corner.
They went agonisingly close to an equaliser as Connelly got in behind on the left of the area and drilled a low ball across goal which hit Lee Mason and a defender but somehow stayed out of the net.
Dillon Morse headed over from a Gillies corner and a Connelly cross just evaded Mason, while substitute Callum Guy was denied by yet another terrific block.
Hyde were hanging on at this stage but maintained their lead with eight minutes left as Brown’s header from a Gillies corner was brilliantly saved by Mewitt.
Hunter and Morse both went close before Myles Boney kept Shields in it with a tremendous reaction stop from Tongue.
The Mariners’ last chance was an effort from distance by Gillies which went wide as they continued to be frustrated until the last.
They will look to bounce back when they travel to Scarborough Athletic on Monday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Charlton, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Gillies, Briggs (c), Connelly, Lowe (Guy 76), Alli (Mason 63). Subs not used: Connell, Wokoma, Thompson.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.