South Shields Ladies were held to a draw by Ossett United at 1st Cloud Arena on Sunday.
Goals from Caitlin Bates and Gabby Pedersen saw the Mariners take the lead twice, but their Yorkshire visitors pegged them back on both occasions to take a share of the spoils.
Shields enjoyed most of the opening proceedings and had the first chance of the game, as Bates hit the outside of the post.
However, Bates did fire the Mariners into an early lead when she showed great composure to take the ball around the goalkeeper and fire into an empty net.
Ossett United brought the scores level shortly afterwards. A speculative effort from the edge of the area hit the inside of the post and into the net, giving Scarlett Gowans no chance.
Shields ramped up the pressure after that as they attempted to go ahead for a second time. Eve Gatens weaved her way through the Ossett defence before seeing her cross blocked and from the resulting corner, Bates flashed a volley narrowly wide.
Gatens had a great chance to give Shields the lead. She controlled Sophie White’s pass brilliantly before firing her effort past the wrong side of the post.
Moments after the interval, Gowans made a brilliant save to keep the scores level. Ossett worked a one-on-one chance, but Gowans parried the ball to safety.
Shields took the lead again midway through the second half through Pedersen. A dangerous corner by Gatens found Monica Innes, whose header towards goal was diverted into the net by Pedersen.
The Mariners looked to capitalise on their pressure as Gatens found space on the edge of the area, but her effort skimmed the bar on its way over as the hosts’ advantage remained at one goal.
The visitors came close to equalising as a forward took the ball around Gowans, but Alex Miller did well to get her body in the way and clear the danger.
Ossett had another chance moments later. A well-hit free-kick hit the underside of the bar and somehow stayed out.
Their pressure did finally pay off as with a leveller when a break through the centre saw a clear sight on goal, and a powerful effort gave Gowans no chance as the teams took home a point apiece.
After the game, Shields head coach Ben Garrity said: “It was a great experience for the lasses to play at 1st Cloud Arena.
“We were unlucky not to come away with a victory as we had the better chances on the day, but we have to move forward and prepare for next week.
“There were spells when Ossett had us on the back foot but I thought we did well to keep our shape and stay disciplined.”
South Shields FC Ladies are set to make their first appearance at 1st Cloud Arena this season when they take on Ossett United on Sunday.
The North East Regional Women’s Football League fixture will kick-off at 2pm and entry is free, providing supporters with a great opportunity to show their backing for the female side of the club.
Ben Garrity’s team go into the match sitting eighth in the table, but they will be looking to reduce their deficit to Sunday’s opponents to one point with a victory.
The lasses will be wearing the club’s new Limited Edition Community Shirt, which was designed by Jade Thirlwall and James Dixon and launched last Friday.
There will be bucket collections held at the game for Cancer Connections, from which all club profits made on sales of the shirt will also be donated.
Those who attend the match will also be able to enjoy a delicious Sunday lunch in the TGS (downstairs) bar at 1st Cloud Arena, courtesy of the brilliant team at Sam’s Deli. Meals are served between 12pm and 3pm. A lunch and a dessert costs just £8.95, and those who purchase a two-course meal will also receive a voucher for a free drink at the men’s first-team game against Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday, November 20th. The voucher will need to be redeemed by 2pm on the day of the Gainsborough fixture and can be used for a pint of Birra Moretti, Foster’s, John Smith’s or Strongbow, as well as a small bottle of wine or house double vodka with gun mixer.
South Shields won the inaugural Puma Cup after scoring five times without reply in a superb second half performance at Ossett United on Saturday.
After the sides went in at half-time deadlocked, Jason Gilchrist and Nathan Lowe both netted twice after the break and Luke Daly completed the scoring for a dominant Shields.
The performance was arguably their best of pre-season as they completed their preparations for next Saturday’s season opener at Radcliffe.
Shields did not have things all their own way in an even first half, though, when they were also tested by difficult conditions and were playing against the wind.
Goalkeeper Myles Boney had to be alert early on to prevent Damian Reeves having a clear chance on goal, while at the other end, Ossett’s trialist goalkeeper got down well to keep out an effort from the edge of the box by Adam Thurston.
Boney did well to deny Luke Porritt as he let fly from just outside the area, and Jack Stockdill also went close for the home side as his free-kick struck the wall before bouncing narrowly past the post.
Lowe went similarly close at the other end for the Mariners before the away side created their best chance of the half.
Robert Briggs’ superb clip over the top beat the Ossett defence and found Josh Gillies, but the goalkeeper was out quickly to close the angle and make the save.
The trialist goalkeeper continued to make an impression when he palmed a Briggs free-kick from 25 yards over the bar, and he also pushed away a dangerous cross by Lowe which appeared destined to find the head of Gilchrist.
Shields were ruthless after half-time as they took the game to their hosts with real style.
They almost took the lead within two minutes of the restart as Gillies whipped in a free-kick from the right which was powerfully headed goalwards by Gary Brown, but a tremendous fingertip save denied him.
The Mariners did not have to wait too much longer for their breakthrough.
Daly received the ball on the right, beat his man and delivered a superb cross which Gilchrist struck into the back of the net with a first-time finish.
Shields won the ball back almost immediately from the restart and Lowe played in Gillies on the left of the area before continuing his run and finishing from close range when the return pass was slid across the box.
The Mariners were playing some sublime football and got their reward again when they carved Ossett open down the left and Gillies got in behind and played it across the area to Gilchrist, who made no mistake from point blank range.
Gilchrist played a major role in the fourth goal as he chased a seemingly lost cause into the corner, won the ball and played it inside to Lowe, who was clipped inside the penalty area.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Lowe comfortably beat the goalkeeper to score his second of the afternoon.
More scintillating play by Shields resulted in a fifth goal on 68 minutes, with Lowe playing the ball to the feet of Daly, who struck home from the edge of the area.
Ossett had opportunities to pull one back in the closing stages but the Mariners held firm to register a welcome clean sheet.
It’s now all eyes on next Saturday as they get their league campaign underway.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney (Connell 69), Brown (Charlton 66), Adams, Lowe, Morse (Lockey 72), Wokoma, Daly, Briggs (c) (Thompson 61), Gilchrist (Guy 69), Thurston (Alli 66), Gillies (Foley 61).
Goals: Gilchrist (49, 55), Lowe (50, pen 65), Daly (68).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Bob Scott.