By Daniel Prince
Ten-man South Shields produced a spirited and superb display as they scored a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at Ryhope CW on Tuesday.
Shields had to play for over 80 minutes with 10 men after goalkeeper Brett Wilson was sent off, and defender Colin White was forced to go in goal.
They battled throughout, though, and despite falling behind early in the second half, substitute James Talbot popped up in the 93rd minute to ensure the Mariners picked up their first point of the Ebac Northern League Division Two season.
Wilson was sent off on 10 minutes after handling the ball outside the area, and it looked set to be an uphill battle for Shields from there.
However, the sending off appeared to galvanise the Mariners, who had also looked the more dangerous team when it was 11 vs 11.
Andy Appleby saw a goal ruled out for offside for the hosts, but other than that, it was Shields who produced the best moments in the first half.
A Barrie Smith cross-shot from the left went just wide, while Andy Renton and David Molloy both saw efforts well saved by home goalkeeper Christopher Rookes.
Stephen Ramsey saw a shot cleared for a corner on the quarter-hour mark, while Lee Maitland’s header was palmed away by Rookes from the resulting corner.
Graham Stephenson came agonisingly close to putting the Mariners 1-0 up on 26 minutes, but his shot across goal from the right was tipped wide.
White had to stay on his toes at the other end, though, and when the ball fell for Appleby in the box on the half-hour mark, he looked certain to score.
However, his powerful shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by White, who showed that to call him a mere stand-in goalkeeper would be something of an insult.
The sides went in level at half-time, and that was the least Shields deserved.
Ryhope started strongly after the restart, though, and took the lead within four minutes of it.
Matthew Jay Weirs floated in a free-kick from the right, and Stephen Oakley glanced it on with his head to find the far corner.
Shields had to battle to get back into the game again, with Ryhope enjoying their best spell of the match after the goal.
Weirs went close after his shot from the left was deflected wide, while Appleby smashed an effort into the side netting.
The Mariners fought, though, and some impressive passages of play on the right helped to spark them back into life.
They almost equalised on 64 minutes, with Renton’s cross from the left nearly falling perfectly for Maitland, who slid in and hit the post with his shot.
A Chris Feasey cross from the left looped just over, while Smith – who was industrious throughout – went on a superb run down the right before firing over.
Ryhope were not producing too many chances of their own, but time looked to be running out for Shields to get a deserved equaliser.
A huge appeal for handball in the penalty area one minute into stoppage time was waved away, and it appeared the Mariners would be beaten.
However, they continued to fight, with substitutes Talbot, Paul Robinson and Kyle Houshby helping to drive them on.
Two of them were involved in the goal which saw Shields claim their point.
Houshby’s low cross from the right went perfectly to Stephen Ramsey, who laid it back to the impressive Talbot.
They will now go in search for their first win of the campaign, and host Brandon United at Peterlee on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3pm.
RYHOPE CW: Rookes, Metcalfe, Cook, Hughes, Evans (c), Oakley, M Charlton (J Pounder 53), O’Neill (Trewick 68), Appleby, D Pounder (C Charlton 76), Weirs. Subs not used: Bussey.
Goal: Oakley (49).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Wilson, Locke, Feasey, Burn, White, Maitland, Stephenson (Houshby 83), Molloy (Talbot 57), Ramsey, Smith (c), Renton (Robinson 69). Subs not used: Conroy, Salim.
Goal: Talbot (90+3).
Booked: Locke, Ramsey.
Sent off: Wilson (10).
Referee: G McMullan.
By Daniel Prince
Ryhope CW provide the opposition tomorrow (7.30pm kick-off) as South Shields go in search of their first points of the new Ebac Northern League Division Two season.
The Mariners lost a tight game 2-1 at Willington on Saturday as they got their campaign under way.
They now travel to one of the favourites for promotion, and manager Jon King accepts his side are underdogs.
He said: “Ryhope are one of the favourites for promotion, as they have got money to spend, and have got some good players there.
“Since last season, they’ve added Andy Appleby from Jarrow Roofing and have got Michael Charlton, a quality player who we had last season.
“Gary Pearson has taken over from Crook, and he is a good friend of mine.
“Hopefully we can go there and give a good account of ourselves.
“Last season when we played the top sides, we normally did okay.
“Nobody expects us to go there and get anything tomorrow.
“Against Willington, I think people expected us to go there and get a result, and rightly so.
“We’ll be the underdogs, so let’s go there and give a good account of ourselves.”
Stephen Ramsey is expected to be fit for the game after a knock forced him off during the Willington defeat.
Midfielders David Conroy and Adam Sharp, as well as left-back James Pickering, will again miss out, though, due to injury.
King felt the Mariners lacked a “goal threat” at Willington, but urged his team to move on quickly from the disappointment of the loss.
He added: “What we did lack was a goal threat.
“That game has gone, though, and a lot of players were down after it.
“I’m pleased that they were down, but they should just be down for 10-15 minutes and then put it right on Tuesday against good opposition.
“Against good opposition, you get more time to play.
“Saturday was a bit of a battle, and we didn’t get a lot of time on the ball with players chasing us down.
“When you play against better players, they give you a bit of time on the ball because they want to play.”
Tomorrow’s game will take place at Ryhope Recreation Park (SR2 0AB).