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 put Scottish Championship side Ayr United to the sword with a commanding display as they marched into the final of the Raydale Cup.
Shields took a deserved two-goal lead into half-time, with Julio Arca scoring a brace in the closing stages of the half.
Although Ayr improved after the interval, they could not break through a resolute Mariners defence as Shields impressed in their first outing of pre-season.
From the outset, the underdogs were on top against their professional opponents, pressing them into mistakes at the back and winning back possession high up the field.
However, despite much fine play in the first half-hour, Jon King’s side were unable to make the breakthrough.
Shields looked dangerous every time they attacked, with David Foley denied on a number of occasions by Ayr goalkeeper Greg Fleming.
Jon Shaw also drilled a shot not far wide on his first appearance for the Mariners, while Gavin Cogdon flashed an effort over.
The breakthrough finally arrived six minutes before half-time when Shields were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out on the right.
Arca curled in a wicked delivery which evaded everyone before nestling in the opposite corner to delight the strong travelling support.
Shields finally had the goal their play deserved, and a second was not long in coming.
Ayr flashed a shot over at one end, while Louis Storey narrowly failed to convert a header at the other, before the ever-dangerous Foley was played in on goal.
With the former Hartlepool United forward looking likely to fire in, an Ayr defender slid in with a despairing tackle, only to bring the Shields man down. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, from which Arca coolly slid in a penalty.
In the second half, Ayr – who won promotion to Scotland’s second tier last season – came out with renewed purpose, and substitute Craig McGuffie was denied early on by Shields’ trialist goalkeeper.
Daryl Meggatt also sent a header not far wide, before Shields made eight changes at once.
That altered the pattern of play as the introduced players got to grips with the game, but Ayr were still unable to get a foothold.
Arca – who was outstanding throughout – was one of the three Shields starters to stay on the pitch, but he was later brought off to well-deserved cheers of appreciation.
Ayr had some better opportunities late in the second half, but Paddy Boyle’s effort whistled over the crossbar, while the Mariners goalkeeper made two fine saves – including one terrific one-handed stop – to keep the margin of advantage at two.
That is the way it remained until the end of the game as Shields gained an impressive scalp to move into Sunday’s final, when they will face another Scottish Championship side, Queen of the South. They dispatched hosts Gretna 6-1 in the other semi-final.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Trialist, Baxter (Galpin 58), Turner (Trialist 58), Trialist (Carson 58), Storey (Morse 58), Arca (Briggs 76), Palmer (Teasdale 58), Scroggins (c) (Wade 58), Shaw (Ramsey 58), Cogdon, Foley (Byrne 58).
Goals: Arca (39, pen 43).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
The Raydale Cup is set to take place in Gretna this weekend, with South Shields one of four teams taking part in the competition.
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.
Now we profile hosts Gretna ahead of the tournament at Raydale Park.
The former club was founded in 1946, and scaled the heights of Scottish football, rising through the divisions under businessman Brooks Mileson in the early 2000s.
They reached the final of the Scottish Cup in 2006, and were only denied the trophy in agonising circumstances, with Hearts beating them on penalties. Reaching the final gained them passage into the UEFA Cup, where they lost in the second qualifying round to Derry City.
After winning promotion to the Scottish Premier League a year later, Gretna began to struggle badly, on and off the pitch.
Mileson fell ill and withdrew his financial support, while debts rose and Gretna finished the season on just 13 points as they were relegated.
Worse was to follow, though, as that summer, Gretna resigned from the Scottish Football League because of their financial situation, and subsequently went out of business.
The former club spent much of its time as part of English football, and won the Northern League in both 1991 and 1992.
Following Gretna’s demise, a new club was set up in 2008, and was accepted into the East of Scotland League. Since 2009, they have played their home games at Raydale Park, which had been the home of the former club.
In 2013, the new club was elected as founder members of the Lowland Football League.
A link between Gretna and Shields comes in the shape of goalkeeper Josh Richardson, who joined the Scottish club after leaving the Mariners at the start of the summer.
On Saturday, Gretna will face Queen of the South, 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.