South Shields Academy produced a superb performance as they secured a league title in a showdown with Tyne Metropolitan College on Monday.
The young Mariners went into the game knowing they needed to take all three points to win Group C of the ECFA Premier League.
It was a high-pressure situation but they rose to the challenge brilliantly to secure the academy’s first piece of silverware since it was formed in the summer of 2017 with a 4-1 win.
Tyne Met would have won the title themselves had they beaten Shields, while a draw would have handed the championship to Monkseaton High School.
The game – held at North Shields FC’s Daren Persson Stadium – got off to an even start but Shields almost fell behind in the sixth minute when a shot was destined for the top corner before goalkeeper Aaron Steavens pulled off a stunning one-handed save to tip the ball onto the bar.
The J Shipley & Co Heating Ltd-sponsored young Mariners cleared the resulting corner and raced down the other end as Michael Colquhoun got in behind, but he pulled his effort just past the post.
Shields broke the deadlock in the 11th minute after a great bit of work from Joe Lockey on the left as he beat his man before delivering a cross which Will McCamley was able to stab home from close range.
It was almost two when McCamley and Colquhoun combined before another McCamley shot was deflected just wide.
The corner which followed resulted in goal number two as Josh Elcoate curled in a terrific delivery and Colquhoun nodded it in at the far post.
Colquhoun was getting plenty of joy running in behind and almost added his second when he raced onto a ball from Lockey, but this time a decent save denied him.
He turned provider soon after when he again sprinted in behind before this time teeing up Olly Scott, who was only kept off the scoresheet by a tremendous save.
Tyne Met were reduced to 10 men at the end of the first half when Scott was scythed down by a poor challenge which forced the Shields forward off injured.
The game was of a physical nature but Shields stood up to the challenge well, with Stevie Black particularly combative in midfield as he covered lots of ground and produced countless well-timed tackles.
The young Mariners almost scored their third three minutes into the second half, but Colquhoun was just unable to get clean contact on a McCamley cross.
McCamley was the next to go close when Ethan Biwer played him in and he showed good strength to hold it up, but was unable to force the ball past the goalkeeper.
The third goal did arrive on 67 minutes when Bailey Judson swung in a tremendous corner from the right which beat everyone before nestling in the net via the post.
McCamley eventually got his second of the afternoon 15 minutes from the end when Judson got in on the right of the area before his shot was parried, with McCamley on hand to head in the loose ball.
Tyne Met pulled a goal back a minute before the end but that did little to dampen the Shields celebrations.
SSFC Academy: Steavens, Yembe, Lockey (Croft 71), Biwer (c), Patterson (Errington 71), Onarbay, Black, Elcoate (Dunn 71), McCamley, Scott (Carney 45), Colquhoun (Judson 62).
Goals: McCamley (11, 75), Colquhoun (14), Judson (67).
South Shields Academy kept up their hopes of winning Group C of the ECFA Premier League with a 3-1 win at Queen Ethelburga’s College on Thursday.
The victory set up a title showdown with Tyne Metropolitan College on Monday, with the winners set to be crowned league champions. Should it end in a draw, Monkseaton High School will win the league.
Shields were made to wait for their latest victory, away to bottom-placed Queen Ethelburga’s.
Goals from Will McCamley, Michael Colquhoun and Olly Scott ultimately got them over the line as Graham Fenton and Lee Picton’s side earned maximum points.
Fenton was not overly impressed with the performance, but was delighted to stay in contention for the title.
He said: “It was a positive result for us after a fairly disappointing performance.
“We were up against a hard-working, spirited Queen Ethelburga’s side who caused us some problems on the day.
“We will have to perform better against Tyne Met if we are to get a victory there, but hopefully the lads can improve and get the job done.”
Fenton reserved particular praise for centre-back Adam Onarbay and goalkeeper Aaron Steavens, who was making his third appearance for the academy.
He added: “Adam had another good game in the centre of defence and we’ve been very impressed with him lately.
“Aaron performed particularly well in goal and is doing really well.
“He has played three times for us now and has acquitted himself well in each performance.
“We’re delighted with how he has settled in and with the way he has mixed with the group.
“It’s brilliant to have him as part of the programme.”
The kick-off time of Monday’s title showdown, which will be played at North Shields FC’s Daren Persson Stadium, is to be confirmed.
SSFC Academy team to play Queen Ethelburga’s College: Steavens, Biwer, Lockey, Black, Onarbay, Errington, McCamley, Elcoate, Colquhoun, Scott, Judson. Subs: Patterson, Morris, Carney, Dunn, Ames.
Lee Picton has hailed South Shields’ Under-19s performance in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Gateshead as the best by any Mariners team so far this season.
The young Mariners came from behind to claim a deserved victory at Silksworth Sports Complex as they continued their impressive form in the National League Under-19 Alliance.
Shields were extremely unfortunate to go in at half-time a goal behind after dominating possession and territory.
A defensive mistake resulted in a 1-0 deficit, but the Mariners pressed on again in the second half and eventually got their rewards.
A penalty from Will McCamley drew them level and Shields then took the lead for the first time after a well-worked move down the left and a fine cross by Josh Croft which Michael Colquhoun guided into the bottom corner with his head.
The three points were wrapped up with a solo effort by McCamley as he beat three players and chipped the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Joint manager Picton was thrilled with the display of the young Mariners.
He said: “In my opinion, it was the best footballing performance by any team at the football club so far this season, including the first-team.
“We’ve recently given the players a lot of tactical information around trying to replicate the shape of the first-team.
“They have taken to it like ducks to water, really, particularly in possession, and are knocking the ball around with so much pace and quality.
“Opposition teams are finding it really difficult to get any sort of foothold in the game.”
Picton and fellow joint manager Graham Fenton are trying to mold their Academy starlets into first-team stars of the future.
Picton added: “Graham and I are absolutely delighted with the ongoing progress that a high number of academy players are making at the moment.
“It is obviously a big step from Under-19s to first-team football, but we feel that a number of players are starting to bridge that gap with the maturity of their performances.
“The only disappointing element of Wednesday’s game was that, without being disrespectful to Gateshead, we didn’t score more goals.
“We could, and perhaps should, have scored 10.”
Shields are fifth in Division I, eight points behind leaders Guiseley with two games in hand.
Picton said: “We’ve won 10 points from our first five games and everyone in the league has dropped points.
“We had a slow start in the league, but we’ve really started to pull ourselves round.
“The ethos within the academy is, first and foremost, to develop players.
“We’re not necessarily just focused on winning trophies.
“At the same time, though, we hope that the next step for these players is to represent the first-team, and so we have to develop a winning mentality and a level of maturity in their play which sees them making the right decisions at the right time in games.”
SSFC Academy: E Hodgson, Yembe, Croft, Carney, Patterson, Lockey, Guy, Scott, Allasan, McCamley, Cowburn. Subs: Errington, Elcoate, Black, Jenkins, Colquhoun.
Goals: McCamley (2), Colquhoun.