South Shields’ Under-18s side suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak at Mariners Park on Monday as they were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup.
After a 1-1 draw in a thoroughly entertaining game, Newcastle Benfield prevailed on spot-kicks.
That was despite the brilliant efforts of Shields goalkeeper Jack Ramage, who saved the opening two penalties in the shoot-out.
The Mariners were a goal down at half-time, but equalised during the second half to force extra-time.
Before the additional 30 minutes, though, Sam Urwin was sent off, meaning Shields had to hold out for almost 45 minutes overall with 10 men.
Their work-rate shone through, and they could have sealed a victory towards the end of extra-time, only to hit the bar. Benfield also struck the woodwork in the closing stages.
Benfield were denied by Ramage with their first two penalties, but Shields were unable to punish them, with the visitors eventually winning 3-2 in the shoot-out.
However, the Mariners left the field with their heads held high after an industrious and brave performance.
South Shields Under-18s secured a creditable sixth position in the Durham County FA League with an entertaining 2-2 draw with Seaham Red Star on Saturday.
The young Mariners – who are in fact an Under-17s side playing a year above themselves – raced into a 2-0 lead early on against Red Star, the unbeaten league champions.
Jon Mellish scored the opening goal at Filtrona Park when he finished off a pass from Olly Martin, and Dan Pickering made it 2-0 after beating the goalkeeper with a one-on-one effort.
Ryan Bolam almost made it three when his effort came back off the crossbar, with he and Mellish particularly impressive out wide.
Seaham battled their way back into the game and earned a point, but Shields could still reflect on a fine campaign.
It was the young Mariners’ first experience in the new competition, and with only five sides finishing ahead of them, they have much to build on for next season.
They will go into the campaign without long-serving coach Kevin Bolam, though, after he took up a new role with Newcastle United.
Dave Simpson has now taken over the coaching of the team, with support from Gavin Bainbridge and Mark Simpson, and secretarial support from Scott Davidson.
South Shields Under-18s line-up against Seaham: Armstrong, Johnson, Marsden, Davidson, E Simpson, Bolam, Bainbridge, H Simpson, Pickering, Mellish, Martin. Subs: Powell, Simmons, Johns.
The club’s Under-18s side will complete their first season in the Durham County FA League on Saturday.
The young Mariners are set to take on Seaham Red Star at Filtrona Park from 1.30pm, with support welcome.
Shields are sixth in the table heading into their last game of the campaign, and could finish fifth with a win.
However, they will face a stern test against a Seaham side which has already clinched the league title, having gone the entire season unbeaten so far, with two games remaining.