South Shields were beaten 3-1 by Scottish Championship side Queen of the South in the final of the Raydale Cup as a positive weekend in Gretna drew to a close.
Shields beat another professional Scottish second tier side, Ayr United, 2-0 on Saturday in the semi-final, but found Queens a tougher nut to crack.
The Scots were 2-0 ahead inside eight minutes, and although Shields improved from there and matched their opponents for much of the match, they were unable to get back into it.
A fine strike from Gavin Cogdon did get Shields on the scoresheet, though, as the forward got off the mark for the club.
In the early stages, the Mariners were overwhelmed as Queens raced out of the blocks. The young and vibrant Scottish side had mostly sat out of Saturday’s semi-final.
Within seven minutes, they were ahead, with Kyle Jacobs heading a cross from the right into the bottom corner.
And they did not have to wait long for goal number two, which arrived within moments when Lynden Dykes was sent through on goal before rounding the goalkeeper and forcing the ball home.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Shields from there, particularly after most of the starting line-up had also played 24 hours earlier.
However, they grew into the game, and it was closer than the final scoreline of 3-1 may have suggested.
They almost responded within five minutes of falling two behind, with Michael Turner seeing a header from a corner cleared off the line, and Matthew Wade also hammering a shot which was saved by the chest of a defender in front of goal.
David Palmer also controversially went into the book as strong penalty appeals were waved away, before he curled an effort over as Shields began to impress again.
David Foley was the next to go close as he hit a half-volley narrowly over, and he also sent one not far wide of the target soon after.
Queen of the South were dangerous, too, and twice went close to going three ahead before half-time, with Shields’ trialist goalkeeper doing well to tip over a free-kick from Mark Millar before Scott Hooper headed a glorious chance over the bar.
The Mariners made four changes at half-time, and one of those introduced, Stephen Ramsey, went close to grabbing their first goal of the game within four minutes of being brought on, only to see his shot trickle just wide.
Shields were hit by a sucker punch at the other end, with a trialist midfielder producing a fine finish from the edge of the box for Queens to make it 3-0.
That did not deter Jon King’s side, though, and Cogdon deservedly got them on the scoresheet when he picked his spot from just outside the box and found the bottom corner with a fine finish.
As the half progressed, Craig Baxter slammed a shot just over, while Louis Storey and Danny Carson also went close, but Shields were unable to get to within a goal of the Scots as they lifted the trophy.
The Mariners will be back in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Bedlington Terriers for a friendly. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Trialist, Baxter, Turner (Trialist 59), Morse (Carson 46), Trialist (Riding 46), Arca (c) (Galpin 59), Palmer, Wade (Storey 46), Teasdale (Ramsey 46), Cogdon (Byrne 59), Foley.
Goal: Cogdon (54).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGES: Mick Sharp.
South Shields will return to match action from the summer break on Saturday when the Raydale Cup begins in Gretna.
The Mariners will play once on Saturday and once on Sunday, with Ayr United, Queen of the South and Gretna also taking part in the competition.
There is expected to be a strong contingent of travelling supporters from Shields, while advance weekend and day tickets are on sale from http://www.gretnafc2008shop.co.uk/raydale-tickets.html while they will also be available on the day.
Yesterday, we had a closer look at Ayr United, who the Mariners will face in Saturday’s semi-final.
Today, we profile Queen of the South, who Shields could come up against on Sunday, with Gretna to be focused on tomorrow.
Last season, they finished seventh, while in the recent past, they have also enjoyed great success in cup competitions.
In the 2007-08 season, they had a remarkable run to the final of the Scottish Cup, with a 4-3 semi-final win over Aberdeen at Hampden Park set to live long in the memory.
Queens also put up a superb effort in the final against Rangers, coming from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 before falling to a 3-2 defeat.
Reaching the final also earned them a spot in the UEFA Cup, where they were narrowly beaten by Danish side FC Nordsjælland in the second qualifying round.
Queen of the South have won the Scottish League Challenge Cup twice – most recently in 2013 – to add to their cup pedigree.
There are links between Shields and Queens.
In the late 1940s, the Harkness brothers played for South Shields, with Willie going on to become a director at Queen of the South.
He was instrumental to a link which was created between the two clubs, which saw pre-season fixtures take place between them in the 1960s.
Another player, Alan Smith, later moved to the Mariners from Queen of the South.
The club was formed in 1919, and play their home games at Palmerston Park, which houses 8,690 spectators.
Among their most famous former players is legendary striker Hughie Gallacher, who started his career with Queens before going on to become one of Newcastle United’s best-remembered No9s.
The club is currently managed by Gavin Skelton, who took over this April as caretaker manager, and was handed the full-time role of player-manager a year later.
The former Workington manager represented the likes of Carlisle United, Gretna and Kilmarnock earlier in his playing career.
Queen of the South is another professional club represented in the Raydale Cup, and will take some stopping over the weekend.
On Saturday, they will face hosts Gretna, with the winners of that to take on the victors of the South Shields-Ayr United tie on Sunday.
The two losing teams will also take part in the third-place play-off.
Tomorrow, we will take a closer look at Gretna.
Tickets for the Raydale Cup, in Gretna, are now available to buy.
South Shields will take part in the pre-season event alongside Scottish clubs Ayr United, Queen of the South and Gretna.
The Mariners will play two games across two days on Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10, beginning with a fixture against Ayr at 3.30pm on the opening day. Ahead of that, Gretna will take on Queen of the South at 12pm.
The winner of those matches will then take part in Sunday’s final, with the losers playing a third-place play-off. The final will take place at 3.30pm, with the losing semi-finalists’ game on at 12pm.
A weekend ticket – which will give holders entry to all four games played across the two days – costs £12, while it is £7 for a day ticket.
All children under the age of 16 will be allowed in free of charge if with a paying adult.
Tickets can be bought from http://www.gretnafc2008shop.co.uk/raydale-tickets.html while they will also be available on the day.
The event was first competed for as a pre-season competition in the 1970s, but was revived in its current format three years ago.
Last year, Ayr won the competition, beating Gretna 1-0 in a closely-matched final.
The event will take place at Gretna’s Raydale Park, which is on Dominion Road, Gretna, and has a postcode of DG16 5AP.
Places are available on a supporters’ coach to the event, which will depart Mariners Park at 9am on Saturday, July 9. It will then return the following day, although those who book up will have to source their own accommodation.
A seat on the bus costs £25 per person and is on a first-come, first-served basis. To book a place, pop into Mariners Park or call 0191 454 7800.
IMAGE: Peter Talbot.