Stockport County came from behind to end South Shields’ involvement in this season’s Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
The Mariners were on course to beat the National League North side when Carl Finnigan gave them the lead just after the half-hour mark.
But Stockport took the ascendancy as the game went on, equalising before half-time and creating a number of chances in the second half.
They got their reward in stoppage time when substitute Nyal Bell hooked in the winner from a left-wing free-kick.
Shields suffered a blow in the lead-up to the game when in-form forward Josh Gillies was ruled out with an ankle injury picked up in training.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton opted to bring in Darren Lough, who slotted in at left-back while Blair Adams was moved to the right side of midfield.
Although the Mariners were not at their free-flowing best in the first half, they did produce some excellent moments and deserved the lead Finnigan gave them.
They had been patient in the early stages, with Finnigan and Gavin Cogdon leading from the front.
Finnigan repeatedly pressed his opponents into mistakes, one of which came when he charged down a clearance from Stockport goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
The ball bounced to safety but Cogdon eventually took control of it before dragging a shot wide from 20 yards.
In a similar passage of play, Finnigan won the ball high up the pitch soon after before beating his defender with good strength and having an effort deflected over.
That offered great encouragement for a vocal home support, with Liam Connell untroubled by a handful of attempts at the other end.
Shields maintained overall control and opened the scoring in the 31st minute.
Robert Briggs curled in a corner from the left which was taken from the head of Dillon Morse by a defender. Phil Turnbull chased the loose ball and kept it in play and Shields probed before Cogdon intelligently played in Adams on the inside-right of the box and he drilled it across the face of goal for Finnigan to tap home. It was a well-worked goal to give Shields the lead they deserved.
Soon after, though, the hosts were dealt a major blow when Cogdon – who had enjoyed an excellent start to the game – suffered a hamstring injury.
His replacement, Ursene Mouanda, produced a fine performance which was enough to earn him the man of the match award from sponsors Aztec Colour Print, but Shields undoubtedly missed Cogdon.
Immediately after he was withdrawn, Stockport equalised as a corner from the left by Adam Thomas bounced in the Shields area and, as time appeared to stand still, Sam Walker flicked it beyond a sea of bodies and into the net.
The Mariners were stung but avoided a double concession when an effort from 20 yards by Connor Dimaio cleared the crossbar.
Finnigan had two decent chances as the first half drew to a close, but on both occasions Hinchliffe closed the angle well and snuffed out the opportunity.
Shields were positive at the start of the second half and quickly had an opening when Craig Baxter’s cross from the right found David Foley at the back post, but Hinchliffe was again quickly out before pushing Foley’s shot to safety.
Jon Shaw later headed wide from a Briggs corner, but Stockport started to gain control after the hour mark and succeeded in pushing the home side back.
Darren Stephenson was one of their main threats, and he forced Connell into a decent low save before hitting another shot wide from 10 yards.
The pressure started to build but Connell would not be beaten. Frank Mulhern was played in on the inside-right of the box, but Connell beat his effort out for a corner. Baxter produced a fine interception just as Ash Palmer seemed set to score soon after, while substitute Elliott Osbourne closed down a Connell clearance and Shields were fortunate to see the ball bounce wide.
Connell also palmed a further effort from Osbourne to safety, but the best chance of the lot fell the way of substitute Nyal Bell after a corner fell to his feet 10 yards out. Shields breathed a sigh of relief when he blazed his volley over.
The Mariners appeared to have made it through their rocky spell and had some attempts of their own, albeit from distance.
An audacious 45-yard effort from Foley went wide while Mouanda hit one from distance which Hinchliffe comfortably stopped.
The decisive moment came just as the tie appeared to be heading for a replay when Stockport were awarded a free-kick on the left flank a minute into stoppage time.
Walker curled it in and Bell hooked the ball powerfully past Connell to bring Shields’ involvement in the Emirates FA Cup to an end at the second qualifying round stage.
The Mariners must now concentrate on the league as they prepare for next Saturday’s trip to Warrington Town.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough (Mason 52), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Adams, Briggs (Wright 74), Cogdon (Mouanda 36), Finnigan, Foley. Subs not used: Lister, Brown, Hunter.
Goal: Finnigan (31).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields welcome former Football League side Stockport County to Mariners Park on Saturday for what promises to be an exciting Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round tie.
The Mariners are looking to go on another strong run in the competition, having memorably beaten the likes of Darlington and York City on their way to the fourth qualifying round last season.
They are sure to be in for a tough afternoon against Jim Gannon’s Stockport, though, who sit 12th in the National League North.
Cash turnstiles will be in operation for home and away supporters on the day of the game, and the club is hoping for a big attendance.
There is great excitement among the Shields players ahead of the fixture.
Joint manager Graham Fenton said: “It gives us great pleasure to be able to welcome Stockport County to Mariners Park.
“Stockport are a big club with a terrific history, and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic game of football.
“There has certainly been a buzz around the dressing room leading into this match.
“All the players are eager to show, as they did last year, that they can compete against a team from a higher league.
“We have to draw on that experience from last season against York City and Darlington, and make sure we get up to similar levels to cause Stockport some problems.”
Fenton is hoping a vocal home crowd could make the difference.
He added: “We’re looking forward to welcoming another fantastic crowd to Mariners Park.
“We hope that the South Shields supporters are as vocal as normal and give us that much-needed 12th man to spur the lads onto a positive result.”
Kick-off is at 3pm and the turnstiles will open at 12pm. Admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
Please come along and show your support!
A cash turnstile will be in operation at Mariners Park for South Shields’ Emirates FA Cup tie against Stockport County on Saturday.
Supporters will be able to pay on the day of the game at turnstile one, with turnstile two to be used by those who have pre-bought tickets. The tickets available at the cash turnstiles will be sold on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.
Segregation will be in place at this fixture, with Stockport fans to enter the ground via turnstiles three and four, next to the 3G pitch.
Turnstile three will also accept cash so Stockport fans will be able to buy tickets on the day, with plenty available.
The second qualifying round tie will kick-off at 3pm.
The club would like to thank all supporters who have pre-bought tickets for the match and hopes that a terrific atmosphere will be generated on the day.
Admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students and £3 for under-16s. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, please come along on the day and pay at the turnstiles to show your support!
The turnstiles will open at 12pm, with a Happy Hour to be in operation between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, when pints of Foster’s, Strongbow and John Smith’s will be available at £2, and Birra Moretti will be £2.50.