South Shields retained the Sam Bartram Memorial Cup after victory over Boldon CA on a wet afternoon in South Tyneside.
A young Shields side started the game with a fast pace, creating plenty of chances with skillful runs down the left wing. Oscar Taylor scored the opening goal for the visitors on eight minutes after some impressive work by Charlie McLeod, who danced through the Boldon defence and layed it off for his team-mate to fire it past the goalkeeper into the roof of the net.
Only a minute later the hosts hit the bar following some quick build up play, but Shields cleared and almost made it two on a rapid counter-attack, with Boldon having lots of work to do at the back.
Some back and forth play led to a Boldon penalty appeal just before 20 minutes but the referee was unmoved, letting the game go on. High pressing from the hosts led to their first shot on target, with a looping ball over from the left into Shields keeper Aaron Steavens, who quickly released the ball to his defence which gave the visitors a chance to go on yet another counter-attack, which was subsequently quashed by Boldon.
With 15 minutes of the half left to play, former Shields favourite Jonny Wightman netted the leveller with a powerful strike into the roof of the net following some patient build-up play from the hosts. Inspired by their equaliser, the Villa created numerous chances and when Dan Nolan found himself one-on-one, he slotted the ball calmly past the keeper to give his side the lead.
Straight down the other end less than a minute later, Shields levelled it. After a fast build-up, Taylor found himself in the opposition penalty area and rounded the keeper to slot it home for his second of the game, and the equaliser.
End-to-end play finished the half, with both sides having the opportunity to go ahead before the break. Shields keeper Steavens produced a brilliant low save to keep his side level before the whistle blew for half-time.
The second period of play resumed just how the first had ended, with some brilliant work by both sides as there was counter-attack after counter-attack, with Villa eventually winning a penalty as Wightman was fouled in the area. Although Steavens went the right way, Levi Collins put his side ahead from the spot.
A quiet 10 minutes followed until finally, on 73 minutes, Shields had their second equaliser of the afternoon, as substitute Lewis Lukeman raced down the left wing, beating his man and putting it on a plate for another Shields sub, Harry Gardiner, who slotted it home for the visitors.
Shields were now on top and hit the woodwork following a corner on 82 minutes before embarking on numerous further attacks. Their persistence paid off, as three minutes before time a looping cross from the left found the head of James McGeorge, who put it past the keeper for the eventual winner.
Shields keeper Steavens began to gradually lose his voice, barking orders at his defence from between the sticks as the game neared its conclusion. It was a great performance from the youngster, who produced a number of top class saves during the 90 minutes.
Boldon ended the game strongly as they searched for a goal but couldn’t quite get it, with Shields emerging victorious and retaining the cup with a side full of young talent.
Ex-Shields player Wightman won the home side’s man of the match award, with McLeod also getting a much deserved man of the match award for his brilliant performance.
Captain Joe Lockey collected the trophy for the visitors after a deserved win for Shields, and a performance to be proud of for all of the young lads on the pitch.
South Shields: Steavens, Morris, Neary, Aldus, Lockey (c), Errington, Ames, Williamson, Taylor, McLeod, Whitehead. Subs: Davey, Gardiner, Lukeman, McGeorge.