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.
A first-half strike from Olly Scott secured South Shields Academy a spot in the National League Under-19 Alliance Cup semi-finals, with a 1-0 win over Weston-super-Mare.
The victory sets Shields up for a clash with either Basford United, Chasetown or Maidstone United.
The young Mariners came into the tie on the back of an emphatic 5-2 victory away to Mansfield in the previous round and they were quick to put the visitors on the back foot.
Will McCamley glided into the box from the left before squaring it to Max Cowburn, only for his shot to be blocked on the line by the Seagulls’ centre-back, preventing an early opener.
The visitors looked to sit in and absorb the Shields pressure early on but struggled to contain the relentless attacks, and soon the hosts got their breakthrough.
McCamley, who was causing all sorts of issues on the right wing, cut inside and played the ball through to Cowburn, whose shot was well saved onto the post, before Scott tapped in the rebound.
Shields nearly doubled their lead when McCamley again cut inside from the right before curving his shot narrowly wide of the post.
The Mariners carried pressing for a second after the half-time interval, and came close when Callum Guy unleashed a half volley from the edge of the box that rattled the crossbar.
Despite their dominance throughout, Shields were nearly the architects of their own downfall, when sloppy defending presented the Weston striker with a chance, but Cameron Armstrong saved well down low to prevent the equaliser.
McCamley came close late on after skinning two Weston defenders down the byline before crashing his shot off the post from a narrow angle.
South Shields progressed to the fifth round of the National League Under-19 Alliance League Cup with a superb 5-2 win at Mansfield Town on Wednesday.
The young Mariners have been in terrific form and continued that with a fine showing in Nottinghamshire.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side were in command in the first half, racing into a 4-1 lead.
Goals from Sam Hodgson, David Allasan, Olly Scott and Ethan Biwer did the damage as Shields took what appeared to be an unassailable advantage into the second half.
Mansfield responded well after the break, but a goal from substitute Dom Minchella wrapped up an impressive victory for the Mariners as they marched into the next round.
Picton was satisfied with the performance of his team.
He said: “We played some really attractive stuff at times, particularly in the first half.
“We led 4-1 at half-time and unfortunately allowed our levels to drop a little bit in the second half, but we still had enough to see out the victory.
“Overall it was a very pleasing performance and one we can take great heart from.
“For us to travel that far and come away with a result like this is brilliant.
“Fingers crossed we get a good home draw in the next round to give us the best possible opportunity of progressing further.”
SSFC Academy team to face Mansfield Town: Bramley, Biwer, Devine, Bexton, Onarbay, Lockey, Thompson, Scott, Hodgson, Guy, Allasan. Subs: Patterson, Elcoate, Minchella, Colquhoun.
Goals: Hodgson, Allasan, Scott, Biwer, Minchella.
The club’s Under-19s are also in fine form in the league, and sit third in the table heading into their next fixture, away to Eccleshill United on Wednesday, January 30.
They are 11 points behind leaders Guiseley with three games in hand, and six points behind second-placed Gateshead, who have played four more games.
The young Mariners’ most recent outing in the league saw them come from behind to defeat York City 2-1 at Silksworth Sports Complex on Wednesday, January 9.
After falling behind, Max Cowburn drew Shields level on 73 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.
The young Mariners finally got their rewards against impressive opposition when Sam Hodgson netted the winner 13 minutes from the end as Shields leapfrogged their opponents in the table.
It promises to be an exciting end to the season for the Under-19s as they battle for silverware on two fronts.