South Shields impressed as they defeated Sunderland West End 3-1 in the NERWFL Subsidiary Plate final on Thursday.
Just days after their defeat to Durham Cestria in the final of the County Cup, the Mariners bounced back to end their season with silverware and go into the summer break with a positive feeling.
They were threatening from the start against West End and almost took the lead seconds after kick-off as a trialist found space in the box and fired a shot at goal which the goalkeeper matched.
Lois Greenslade then spearheaded a brilliant Shields counter-attack. She skipped past the West End midfield and slipped in Eve Gatens, but her effort was saved.
Only seconds later, home side West End had an effort of their own. A one-two saw the striker go through on goal, but an impressive save denied her.
Shields took the lead as Greenslade did well to steal the ball high up the pitch and played in Gatens, who brilliantly turned her defender but saw her effort saved, and the trialist converted the rebound.
Greenslade and Gatens linked up again as the former drove towards the defence and played in Gatens, who fired a wonderful effort into the top corner.
Almost immediately, the Mariners hit the inside of the post from distance. Gatens struck the ball from the right corner of the box and was unlucky not to score.
Shields nearly scored the goal of the season as a lovely passing move from the back resulted in Gatens going through on goal, but her effort was brilliantly saved.
The away side did add a third from the resulting corner. Rebecca Ward whipped in a great ball and Gatens made up for the miss by burying a superb volley into the roof of the net.
West End had a great chance late in the half as a striker latched on to a fine through ball, but the effort was lofted over the bar.
They had two other opportunities, with Alex Miller’s fantastic last-ditch tackle snuffing out one of them, before eventually pulling one back after the controversial decision to sin bin Shields’ Megan Archbold.
That did little to dampen Shields’ mood as they saw out their 3-1 victory.
Head coach Scott Curtis said: “It’s a great feeling.
“Everyone put a shift in and we looked comfortable for large portions of the game.
“It’s a nice way to end the season and we’ll enjoy this, but we’re always looking to improve and we’ll be back stronger next season.”
South Shields suffered heartbreak in the Durham FA County Cup final on Sunday as Durham Cestria ran out 6-1 winners.
The Mariners have been impressive in recent weeks and made a great account of themselves during their cup run.
They suffered an early blow at Harton Welfare, though, as Erin Williams-Brown was forced off in the early stages of the game with a leg injury and Megan Archibold volunteered to be the stand-in goalkeeper.
Durham took the lead early in the game as Abby Towers did well to cut out a cross but the ball bounced off the post and in fortunate circumstances, the visitors had the ball in the net.
They doubled their lead when a speculative effort was curled into the top corner and when a third goal arrived shortly after, it was shaping up to be a tall order for Shields.
Archibold made a brilliant save to keep the Mariners in the game but Durham did add a fourth just before the break, as they scored a great free-kick that was just out of Archibold‘s reach.
The game was put out of sight as a threaded ball through the defence found the Durham forward, who finished via the post.
Annece Legg pulled one back almost immediately for Shields. Some great pressing of the Durham back line resulted in the goalkeeper taking a poor touch, and Legg made her pay by stealing the ball and finishing the chance.
Shields continued to press to get themselves back in the game as the second half continued.
Durham had a half-chance as the striker ran through on goal, but Alex Miller did just enough to put her off as she fired over the bar.
The opposition then added a sixth as a well-executed one-two allowed the striker to run through on goal and she slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Eve Gattens had a chance with a free-kick from close range. She tried to go under the wall, but the goalkeeper read it and held onto the effort.
There were further chances for Durham to extend their lead but they hit the post with one chance, were denied by a fantastic save by Archibold and then struck the crossbar with a whipped free-kick as the scoring ended at six.
Shields head coach Scott Curtis said: “I firstly want to say congratulations to Durham.
“I think we matched them for the last hour of the game, but they were the better team for the first 30.
“We are disappointed to not come away as winners, but I am proud of each and every player, and we will come back stronger.
“There were some positive signs for sure and we can only improve.”
New South Shields Ladies boss Scott Curtis has given his thoughts on his side and discussed his future plans.
Curtis has taken charge of two games since being appointed as head coach, and has had plenty of room for thought.
Curtis said: “We’re looking to add more players to the squad before the start of next season, and I’ve got a few players in mind already who I’d like to bring into the club.
“Although we have lots of quality in the existing squad we are a bit short of numbers, with a striker being our main priority.”
The squad have shown on numerous occasions that they have talent and work well together as a team. However, as Curtis brings in his new recruits and adds depth to the side, he is confident the only way is up.
Although Curtis has his long-term aspirations for the club set in motion, he has not lost sight of what is in front of him.
His team are still in the County Cup and there are still a handful of games to be played this season, where he will be looking for his players to impress.
He added: “We are looking forward to the new season arriving and hopefully we can play a full complement of games.
“However, we are still in this season’s County Cup and have a massive game on May 23rd against Wear United which we will be expected to win.”