Luke Daly scored the winning goal with the last kick of the game as South Shields stayed in the title race with a 3-2 win over Scarborough Athletic on a pulsating afternoon at Mariners Park on Monday.
The Mariners had let a two-goal half-time lead – handed to them by a brilliant brace from Lee Mason – slip as play-off chasers Scarborough battled back in the second half.
But with Boro seeking a third goal which would have kept them in contention for the play-offs, they sent goalkeeper Tommy Taylor forward for a stoppage time corner which Shields countered from and scored, with Daly picking the perfect time to net his first goal for the club.
The result saw Shields climb above Warrington Town into second in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic heading into Saturday’s trip to Gainsborough Trinity, their final match of the season.
The Mariners were backed by their highest crowd of the season, with over 2,000 packing into Mariners Park.
The hosts started on the front foot and zipped the ball about well, with Jon Shaw sending an early header wide and Gavin Cogdon firing a shot into the hands of Taylor after a ball through by Daly.
Shields almost took the lead in the 20th minute when Blair Adams hit an effort which was pushed out by Taylor to the feet of Josh Gillies, but the ball came to him too quickly and ricocheted against his foot before being cleared.
Scarborough fired a warning of their own as they countered and Michael Coulson pulled a shot not far wide from the right of the area.
Midway through the first half, the breakthrough arrived for the Mariners.
Gillies raced away down the right flank and delivered a superb cross onto the right foot of Mason, who steered it home on the volley to score his 13th goal of the season.
Number 14 arrived just eight minutes later after a prolonged spell of Shields dominance which had seen Shaw and Robert Briggs both come close to doubling the lead.
Cogdon pressured Taylor into a hurried clearance and his miscue fell to Mason, who steered a terrific first-time effort into the net from 35 yards as the Mariners were rewarded for an excellent opening half-hour.
They could have made it three on the stroke of half-time, but after driving at the Scarborough defence, Gillies dragged a shot wide.
The Mariners picked up where they left off in the second half and looked certain to score when Gillies raced through on goal, but Taylor closed the angle well to make the save.
Scarborough gave themselves a foothold in the game when the prolific James Walshaw rifled the ball home from the edge of the box to half the deficit.
Boro were visibly lifted by the goal, although the big home crowd was given a lift when Carl Finnigan was introduced from the bench for his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in January.
Finnigan made an immediate impact as he played Daly in on goal, but he was denied his first goal for Shields by a superb fingertip stop by Taylor.
Liam Connell made a similarly impressive save soon after at the other end as he tipped a free-kick by Ryan Watson over the bar.
Scarborough were awarded a penalty with 14 minutes remaining following a foul in the box, and Walshaw looked to have given Shields’ title hopes a dagger blow when he rolled the spot-kick home.
He almost made it a hat-trick within two minutes of the equaliser, but his flick cleared the crossbar.
Shields gathered some momentum in the closing stages and Craig Baxter was inches away from giving them the lead in the 90th minute as his 20 yard effort flashed past the post.
They had to wait until the final kick for the vital breakthrough, and what a moment it was.
With Taylor racing back to his goal after going up for a corner, the referee played advantage following a foul on Connor Bell on the halfway line.
Daly picked up the loose ball and brilliantly flicked it past his nearest opponent before dribbling towards the goal-line and finishing from close range to create pandemonium at Mariners Park.
Shields’ title hopes were kept alive – in the most dramatic of circumstances.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs, Cogdon (Finnigan 64), Mason (Bell 68), Gillies (Foley 78). Subs not used: Brown, Mouanda.
Goals: Mason (22, 30), Daly (90+5).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
A double from Nathan Lowe helped South Shields to a vital 3-1 win at Marine as they stayed within a point of Evo-Stik Premier Division leaders Farsley Celtic.
On a day which saw each of the division’s top four secure maximum points, the Mariners were made to work on Merseyside.
They recovered from slow starts to both halves to win comfortably in the end, with Liam Connell saving an early penalty before Lowe’s brace was added to by a goal from Lee Mason on a sunny afternoon in Liverpool.
Shields were dealt a blow on the eve of the game when David Foley – who was so influential in the previous week’s 4-0 win over Hyde United – was ruled out through illness.
Connor Bell replaced Foley in the starting line-up and the Mariners got off to a sluggish start, conceding a penalty after just three minutes as Danny Mitchley was fouled in the area.
Steven Irwin took the responsibility from the spot for the hosts but was thwarted by Connell as he dived low to his left and pushed the ball to safety.
It was a let-off for the Mariners but they did not immediately spring into action, and breathed another sigh of relief when a Dylan Sumner effort flashed wide.
As the first half wore on, Shields’ confidence grew and they fired their first warning when the lively Luke Daly worked himself into some space on the right of the area and pulled a ball inside to Bell, who shot into the side netting.
At the other end, captain Jon Shaw blocked from James Murray but forays forward by Marine were becoming increasingly rare.
Shields made the breakthrough in some style before the half-hour.
Lowe received the ball with his back to goal near the halfway line on the right and dropped his shoulder to get away from one defender before tricking his way past another and burying a 25 yard effort with his left foot.
Marine responded well and went close to equalising almost immediately when a shot from the right of the area by Mitchley was deflected onto the roof of the net.
Mason had two good opportunities to double the Mariners’ advantage before half-time, but saw his first effort blocked and blazed the second chance over.
The home side came out of the blocks well in the second half and almost levelled within a minute of the restart when Danny Shaw’s header from a corner crashed against the crossbar.
Mitchley was Marine’s biggest threat and he had a number of half-chances in the second half without seriously testing Connell.
Shields stretched their lead on the hour mark as Phil Turnbull clipped a ball into the left channel and Daly combined well with Bell before hooking in a tremendous cross which presented Mason with his easiest goal of the season as he converted from close range.
Marine should have pulled a goal back less than a minute later, but Murray blasted over from eight yards after a cross from the left.
Connell saved from Irwin before Shields made the points safe as Daly brilliantly beat his man on the right and brushed a deft pass into the feet of Lowe, who curled a superb shot into the bottom corner to double his tally for the afternoon.
Marine almost immediately got on the scoresheet themselves when, moments after Connell had tipped a Charley Edge free-kick onto the bar, Mitchley scrambled the ball over the line via a deflection.
It was too late for the hosts to force themselves back into contention, though, as the Mariners kept up their fine form.
With just six league games remaining, it’s still all to play for.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 69), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Lowe (Mouanda 86), Briggs, Mason (Cogdon 75), Daly, Bell. Subs not used: Guy, Gillies.
Goals: Lowe (29, 78), Mason (60).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields produced one of their most convincing performances of the season as they swept to a 4-0 win over Hyde United at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The Mariners were in command throughout as they moved level on points with second-placed Warrington Town in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Lee Mason put them ahead in the first half after good link-up with the terrific David Foley, and goals after the break from Craig Baxter, Nathan Lowe and Dillon Morse made the points safe.
Shields were anticipating a tough game against a side which had beaten them 4-1 in the reverse fixture in October.
However, they banished those memories with a display which had a bumper crowd of more than 1,850 purring.
Foley was at the heart of much of the Mariners’ impressive attacking play without getting on the scoresheet himself.
He signalled his intentions as early as the third minute when he got in behind the Hyde defence on the right of the area and cut the ball back towards Morse, but a defender nipped in first just as the Shields number five was about to slam it home.
Baxter had a good opportunity to open the scoring soon after when Lowe played him in, but he smashed an effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Hyde’s best spell of the match came around the 20 minute mark, but Liam Connell was on hand to make a smart stop from the dangerous Paddy Lane.
Lane again caused the Mariners problems when he advanced down the left and fired a ball across goal which Connell parried before Jon Shaw cleared the ball to safety.
Shields responded emphatically to Hyde’s bright period and opened the scoring in style in the 24th minute.
Robert Briggs won the ball 10 yards inside his own half and spread it wide to Foley on the right. He sprinted forward, beat his man with some superb skill and pulled a low cross into the area which Mason met first time with a piledriver into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
It was terrific play from both forwards, with Foley’s fine skill and end product met with equally impressive movement from Mason, and a finish to match.
Briggs was unfortunate not to double Shields’ lead eight minutes before half-time when his free-kick from 25 yards rattled the crossbar, but the hosts had plenty of positives to take into the half-time interval.
They picked up where they left off after the break and it took them less than three minutes to stretch their advantage to two.
Again, some fine movement was on display from Shields’ attackers as Blair Adams, Mason, Foley and Luke Daly linked up before Foley hit the post and the ball rebounded to the advancing Baxter, who slammed it home.
Hyde could have pulled a goal back moments later, but Morse brilliantly blocked from Kyle Brownhill and Connell made a good near-post save to deny Lane.
The points were then made safe in the 55th minute as Foley teed up Lowe 20 yards from goal and he thumped the ball past Hyde goalkeeper Peter Crook for his seventh goal in Shields colours.
The Mariners were rampant now and could have gone further ahead, but Morse was denied by a block and Lowe saw a free-kick saved by Crook.
The fourth goal eventually arrived a minute from the end after another spell of Shields dominance on the ball as Lowe curled in a teasing free-kick from the left which Morse helped on its way to the corner of the net with a glancing header.
It was an impressive performance and result for the Mariners, who were backed by a superbly vocal home support as they kept the pressure on Farsley and Warrington above them.
They return to action away to Marine next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 84), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs (Cogdon 80), Mason (Bell 71), Lowe, Foley. Subs not used: Mouanda, Thompson.
Goals: Mason (24), Baxter (48), Lowe (55), Morse (89).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.