By Philip Reay
South Shields lost their final game of the season 4-2 against Ryton & Crawcrook Albion on Saturday, a result that preserved Ryton’s Northern League status and relegated Esh Winning.
The opening minutes of the game were very nervy, with neither side able to stamp their authority.
The first scoring opportunity for the home side came on 22 minutes as Chris Feasey outpaced the defence before delivering a cross to Stephen Ramsey, but the striker saw his header well saved by the Ryton keeper Kevin Quigley.
Shields maintained the pressure on the visitors’ defence, and once again Quigley came to their rescue, saving from Richie Logan.
Against the run of play, Ryton opened the scoring on 25 minutes as keeper Simon Parkin was unable to hold onto a Scott Gunn shot and the ball trickled over the line.
On the half hour, Shields went close to restoring parity as a long throw by Colin White found Ramsey inside the box, but his header flew just wide of the post.
Minutes later another long throw, this time from Ben Riding, caused problems for the visitors’ defence, and with the keeper beaten, only a goal-line clearance by Leigh Shickle prevented Logan from drawing Shields level.
In the last action of the first half, Luke Richardson fired his shot wide of the post as the visitors went in at the break a goal to the good.
At the start of the second half, Adam Sharp found Ramsey in space inside the Ryton box, but he fired the ball straight into the arms of the keeper.
The Ryton side were unable to break out of defence as Shields piled on the pressure, but chance after chance went begging as the relegation-threatened side defended for all they were worth.
The Shields pressure eventually brought reward on 65 minutes. A White long throw eventually fell to Logan on the edge of the box, and he drove the ball into the roof of the net to restore parity.
Shields thought they had taken the lead on 70 minutes. Shaun Smith broke down the left flank before crossing the ball for Ramsey, and he headed the ball past the keeper, but his celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee signalled for offside.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ryton broke forward and Josh Holland fired in from the edge of box to restore the visitors’ advantage.
From the restart, the Shields defence were caught napping and Gunn was able to double the advantage.
Shields pulled a goal back within minutes as Shaun Smith fired in from close range.
But once again the Mariners defence were caught napping as Dean Sinclair fired in to secure the points for Ryton and start their celebrations as they retained their Northern League status.
By Daniel Prince
South Shields bring their Northern League campaign to an end tomorrow when they take on Ryton & Crawcrook Albion at Peterlee.
It promises to be an exciting game, as only a victory for the visitors will see them avoid relegation.
The game was originally arranged for April 22, but was postponed due to heavy fog at Peterlee.
However, no such weather problems are expected tomorrow, with Shields set to bring their gruelling fixture schedule to an end.
The Mariners go into the game on the back of a frustrating 1-1 draw with Brandon United on Thursday.
Brandon struck an equaliser 10 minutes from the end as they punished Shields for failing to take their chances.
Jon King’s side are 16th in Northern League Division Two, and will finish 15th if they beat Ryton.
However, any other result may see them drop to 17th, as Whitehaven could leapfrog the Mariners with a win over Jarrow Roofing.
Jak Wells will again miss out for Shields with a rib injury, meaning Brett Wilson or Simon Parkin is expected to be between the sticks.
Tony Burnell, meanwhile, will miss out after hurting his back in a car crash, while Adam Burnicle and Richie Logan could return after work commitments.
David Halliday is expected to miss out again after picking up an injury against Washington.
Colin White, meanwhile, is expected to again be available against Ryton.
South Shields. HOME.
P20. W6. D8. L6. F31. A38. Total GD -24. Pts 48. League table position: 16th.
Form. Last six games seven points, form table placing 16th.
Ryton and Crawcrook Albion. AWAY.
P20. W1. D5. L14. G15. A55. Total GD -63. Pts 25. League table position: 22nd.
Form. Last six games six points, form table placing 18th.