Champions South Shields completed one of their most memorable seasons in living memory with an eighth consecutive win on Wednesday.
Stephen Ramsey’s late header was enough to earn the Mariners a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Northallerton Town.
The win saw Shields avenge one of their five league losses this season, with Northallerton having won 3-2 at Mariners Park on the opening day.
They went into the game missing a number of players, including Julio Arca, David Foley and Ibby Hassan.
Northallerton had also been buoyed by a 2-0 victory over Ryhope CW on Monday, which saw them lift the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.
After Andrew Ramsbottom curled an early free-kick wide for the hosts, though, Shields looked the more likely team to score as they aimed to finish on 107 points.
Martyn Coleman saw a powerful header kept out by home goalkeeper Matthew Calvert, which was one of three good first half saves to deny the striker.
Ramsbottom was the most dangerous player at the other end, but the hosts struggled to create clear cut opportunities.
The Mariners thought they had taken the lead when Calvert could only push a Robert Briggs shot out to Leepaul Scroggins, who converted the rebound. However, the offside flag was raised as the sides went in level at half-time.
After the break, Calvert continued to thwart Coleman, while Daryll Hall sent a header over and Briggs curled a free-kick wide.
Just as it seemed Shields might have to settle for a season-ending draw, they struck what would prove to be the winner with 12 minutes left.
Ben Riding delivered a long throw from the left, and long-serving Ramsey flicked the ball into the air before it looped into the net.
Ramsbottom sent an effort wide at the other end under pressure from Danny Carson, but an equaliser always looked unlikely.
The Mariners almost added a second on 87 minutes when substitute Warren Byrne headed a Coleman cross against the crossbar.
However, the champions had already done enough to claim yet another victory and end the campaign in style.
They can now look forward to the summer ahead of returning to action in Northern League Division One next season.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Riding, Hall, Galpin (Byrne 62), Carson, Briggs, Scroggins (c) (Teasdale 46), Ramsey, Coleman, Turner. Sub not used: Richardson.
Goal: Ramsey (78).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields face their final fixture of the season on Wednesday as they travel to Northallerton Town in Ebac Northern League Division Two (7.45pm kick-off).
Champions Shields will be looking to end a successful campaign with an eighth consecutive victory, which would see them finish on 107 points.
However, they know they will be in for a difficult match at Ainderby Road, with Northallerton having beaten them 3-2 on the opening day of the season at Mariners Park.
Town will be buoyed by their 2-0 victory over Ryhope CW in the final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup on Monday, and this is also their last game of the season. They look set to finish seventh or eighth.
A statement from Northallerton Town: “We would just like to let supporters know that NO alcohol will be allowed outside of the clubhouse on Wednesday evening, before or during the game. We will have stewards on the door to stop alcohol being taken outside and anyone found bringing in their own drinks will have it taken from them, and may as a last resort be removed from the ground. We hope this course of action will not be necessary.”
HOW TO GET THERE
Northallerton Town play their home games at the Calvert Stadium, which is on Ainderby Road, Romanby, Northallerton, and has a post code of DL7 8HA.
For those supporters making their way to the match by car, there is a journey of about 55 miles, which should take just over an hour.
The quickest route is to follow the A19 until making the eventual turn-off to the A684 exit, towards Northallerton. You can then continue on the A684 for about six miles before taking the first exit at the next roundabout onto Friarage Street/A167. Take the second exit at the next roundabout onto East Road/A167, and the second exit at the next roundabout onto South Parade/A167. The third exit should be taken at the next roundabout, and then turn left onto Ainderby Road, which should lead you to another left turn to Ainderby Gardens, where you will find the ground.
August 8, 2015 – Ebac Northern League Division Two, Mariners Park
South Shields 2 (Scott 58, Foley 90+3) Northallerton Town 3 (Swankie 19, Andrew Ramsbottom 21, 32). Attendance: 417.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young, Smith, Curry (Turner 62), Buchanan, Galpin, McMahon (Chapim 56), Foley, Scroggins (c), Guerin (Melvin 69), Scott, Phillips. Subs not used: Beal, Sakr.
Last six games (in all competitions)
South Shields: WWWWWW (Overall league position: 1st, 104 points from 41 games)
Northallerton Town: WWWWLL (Overall league position: 7th, 73 points from 41 games)
THOUGHTS AHEAD OF THE GAME
Gary Middleton, South Shields assistant manager: “We’ve worked with the players since the beginning of July, and said then how much hard work they’d have to put in for us to be successful this season. There were a lot of cold, grim nights training at Harton and Mortimer when players didn’t want to be there. We stressed how important it was that we did our work on training nights. They put that work in and it has paid dividends over the season. I’m a big believer that the league table doesn’t lie and the best team over the season comes out and wins the league. The lads deserve a lot of praise. There have been some fantastic performances and a lot of big contributions from the players. They deserve the accolades for what they’ve taken this club to.”
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Wednesday’s Ebac Northern League Division Two fixture between Northallerton Town and South Shields has been postponed.
Following heavy and persistent rainfall, the playing surface at the Calvert Stadium was left unplayable.
The match has been rearranged for Wednesday, May 4, which will make it the Mariners’ final fixture of the season.