South Shields were eliminated from the FA Youth Cup at the first round stage as a clinical Stockport County earned a 3-1 win at 1st Cloud Arena.
The Hatters struck early in both halves and sealed their victory with a third goal in the closing stages to end the young Mariners’ hopes of progressing further after another strong run saw them reach the competition proper for the third time in four seasons.
Olly Cresdee did provide a moment to remember for Shields in stoppage time with a superb free-kick from distance, but there was no way back into the tie at that point.
Oliver McFadyen fired the visitors into the lead on 13 minutes as he drove inside from the left and struck a powerful effort which kissed the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Shields were almost level less than four minutes later when Josh Edwards miscued a clearance from a James McGeorge corner, only for a team-mate to clear off the line.
That was part of a strong response to falling behind from Shields, although they needed Jack Watson to block from Jamie Walsh after Stockport countered from a corner.
The Mariners were strong in the challenge and quick to pounce on any mistakes from the visitors, which was exemplified when Charlie Walker stole possession in the middle and rushed into space before shooting wide from 20 yards.
Another effort from range by Lewis Lukeman was gathered by Hatters goalkeeper Daniel Harrison as Shields attempted to crank up the pressure, with the same player sending another long-distance strike over the bar less than two minutes later.
Callum Dobson made a tremendous save to keep the home side’s deficit at one seven minutes before the break when, after Leandro Tanswell had rounded him, he picked himself up and dived at full stretch to keep out his shot from 10 yards.
It was now more of an even contest as Stockport stemmed the flow of Shields attacks and went on several forays forward of their own, one of which led to Walsh dragging an effort wide from the right of the area.
Stockport took their one-goal advantage into the interval and the Mariners will have been looking for a strong opening to the second half, but got off to the worst possible start.
They conceded a free-kick on the Stockton right less than a minute after the restart which Keane Barugh whipped to the back post, where Scott Holding rose highest to head the Hatters into a two-goal lead.
Shields created an opportunity for a route back into the tie when Michael Johnstone created some space for himself on the right and pulled the ball back to captain McGeorge, whose effort from the edge of the box was deflected over. Alfie Marriott headed a presentable chance off target from the resulting corner.
Another chance came and went for the hosts as McGeorge again curled in a corner from the right, with Alex Thompson prodding over the bar.
Stockport largely nullified Shields’ threat after that, although they were sparked into life when substitute Harry Scurfield fired goalwards from the edge of the box with 13 minutes left and saw his strike deflected wide.
Just four minutes later, the Hatters killed the tie when a dangerous cross from the right was met at the near post by Tanswell, who picked out the bottom corner.
McGeorge almost pulled one back with a dipping free-kick from the left which Harrison clawed behind for a corner, which was whipped in by McGeorge but just evaded those in the centre.
Shields ended the game in spirited fashion but were unable to find a way past Harrison until the third minute of stoppage time, when a tremendous free-kick from distance by Cresdee arrowed into the top corner to provide a consolation.
There was no route back into the tie for the young Mariners, though, as Stockport sealed their place in the second round.
South Shields: Dobson, Bell, Watson (Taylor 76), Marriott, Thompson, Walker, Johnstone, Lukeman (Scurfield 57), Waldon (Kidd 65), McGeorge (c). Cresdee. Subs not used: Cotterill, Fletcher, Duffy, Morgan.
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields take on Stockport County in the first round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday.
It promises to be a huge night for the club’s youngsters at 1st Cloud Arena (kick-off 7pm) after they made it into the competition proper with a nail-biting penalty shootout win over York City in the final qualifying round.
The young Mariners have progressed through four ties to reach this stage, receiving a bye against Guisborough Town before home victories over Pickering Town, Stockton Town and York.
Should they prevail over Stockport, Shields will qualify for the second round of the FA Youth Cup for the third time in four seasons, which would be another monumental achievement for an Academy formed less than five years ago.
SSFC Academy manager Wess Brown is anticipating an entertaining encounter.
He said: “We’ve got a few lads back from sickness and injury, so the squad is looking good and fresh.
“They’ve trained well and had a bit of a rest, and they’ve been looking really vibrant on the training pitch.
“The most important thing for us is that they play in the South Shields way.
“It’s a good learning curve for them and they need to keep remembering to try to play our way, get the ball down and play through the thirds. Then when we get into the attacking third, we need to excite and get a high press on as we go up the pitch.
“We’re expecting a similar test to the one York gave us.
“Stockport are in a full-time programme and we’ve seen some highlights of them.
“They seem to have some really bright players, especially in wide areas, and hopefully it will be a good game because they like to play good football as well.”
Admission prices at 1st Cloud Arena are £4 for adults and £2 for concessions, payable by cash only at the turnstiles. The gates will open at 5.30pm and Happy Hour prices will apply in the bar until the kick-off time of 7pm.
The FA Youth Cup first round tie between South Shields and Stockport County will take place on Wednesday, November 3rd at 1st Cloud Arena.
The match had originally been scheduled for Friday, November 5th, but has now been brought forward by two days.
It is sure to be a hugely anticipated clash after the young Mariners continued their fine run in the competition by seeing off York City in the final qualifying round.
They required penalties to beat the National League North side’s Academy, with Shields goalkeeper Callum Dobson proving to be the hero as he saved two spot-kicks in front of a crowd of 391.
It was a big moment for the side, after they were eliminated from the competition on penalties by Altrincham last season.
Academy manager Wess Brown was delighted with the character shown – and feels that will stand the players in good stead as they look to progress further and emulate the achievements of 2018-19 (second round) and 2019-20 (third round).
He said: “It’s not always great when it goes to penalties, because it’s a bit of a lottery.
“It was a good test for us because we went out of this competition on penalties last season, but a lot of lads put their hand up and wanted to take one, which was a great sign of their character.
“The FA Youth Cup is a great competition for the lads to learn and that experience of going to penalties will be integral for them going forward, despite what was a below-par performance.
“It’s great to be in the first round proper again, two years after we reached the third round, and hopefully we can take it at least one step further.”
Another strong gate is expected on Wednesday, with the three FA Youth Cup ties at 1st Cloud Arena so far this season having attracted a cumulative crowd of 1,070.
Dobson – who recovered from conceding a penalty during the 90 minutes against York – has no doubt as to the sort of role the fans can play.
He said: “It was an incredible moment for us to win the shootout and we were all absolutely buzzing.
“The crowd was a massive help for us, as they always are, and we can’t wait to play in front of them again.
“In terms of the saves I made during the game and in the shootout, I just did what I’m supposed to do and the 10 others all ran themselves into the ground.
“The other goalkeeper gave me a bit of advice before the penalties, and it’s just about making yourself as big as possible and trying to get in the taker’s head.
“I was there last year when we lost on penalties to Altrincham, so this was massive for us and will hopefully prove to be a big learning experience.”
The FA Youth Cup first round tie against Stockport will take place on Wednesday with a kick-off time of 7pm. Admission prices are £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.