Team Northumbria 1-0 South Shields
By Daniel Prince
South Shields were edged out by high-flying Team Northumbria in a tight Ebac Northern League Division Two match on Monday.
The Mariners were undone by a goal from Ben Dibb-Fuller 10 minutes into the second half of a game they deserved to take something from.
The result moved Team Northumbria back to the top of the table, and they had started the match well, with Matthew Lowrie sending a long-range effort over the bar.
The Mariners kept the ball well, but Jake Cunningham was on hand to keep out an effort from Luke Hannant after a wide free-kick was half cleared.
Abu Salim was handed a start on the left flank by Shields boss Jon King, and one exciting passage of play on 32 minutes showed exactly why.
He skipped past a number of challenges on the left before darting into the box, where he was only denied by a strong save from Jennison.
The hosts were restricted to half chances in the first half, with Paul Antony dragging a shot wide before Hannant did similar.
Four minutes before the break, they created a better opportunity, but Hannant’s diving header at the back post from Ben Bradley’s cross did not trouble Cunningham as it trickled wide.
Shields started the second half in fine fashion, and Chris Feasey’s free-kick from the left fell perfectly onto the head of Sharp at the back post. However, his effort was well saved by Jennison and the chance was gone.
Shortly after, a cross from David Molloy on the left was cut out by Jennison just before Alex Kempster was able to prod home.
Just as the Mariners looked to be building the momentum required to go on and take three points, they were hit by a sucker punch at the other end.
Shields were dispossessed in the middle of the park, and the ball quickly broke to Dibb-Fuller on the inside left of the box. He controlled and got into a shooting position before slotting past Cunningham to score what proved to be the winning goal on 55 minutes.
However, the Mariners did have opportunities to take something from the game.
A loose backpass from the home side almost handed Stephen Ramsey an open goal, but Jennison raced out of his goal and just got there first to clear the danger.
On 69 minutes, Shields’ best chance of an equaliser came and went, with Ramsey’s bullet header from Feasey’s right-wing cross turned over the bar by Jennison.
Aron Burn was next to have a go, with his downward header from another Feasey set-piece scrambled to safety.
Much of the better chances in the late stages went the way of the home side as the game became stretched.
A long ball over the top with eight minutes remaining bounced over the Shields defence, and Antony hooked an effort from the right of the box not far wide.
Despite their best efforts, the Mariners were unable to conjure up a late opportunity of their own, with Salim’s skied effort with four minutes left on the clock the closest they came near the end.
Team Northumbria had chances to kill the game off, with Cunningham denying Hannant from close range after good interplay with Bradley.
Cunningham also beat away a strong effort from Antony, while Bradley did beat the Shields goalkeeper with a low, curled effort on 88 minutes, only to see his effort come back off the post.
There was to be no late drama, though, as Team Northumbria saw out their narrow victory to claim the three points and clamber above Norton and Stockton Ancients into top spot in Division Two.
Shields’ game is against Norton and Stockton, on Saturday at Peterlee.
TEAM NORTHUMBRIA: Jennison, Lowrie, Armitage, Bertram, McKeown, Brown, Bradley, Antony (c), Murray, Hannant, Dibb-Fuller. Subs (from): Murdock, White, Bannister, Spence, Green.
Goal: Dibbs-Fuller (55).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Cunningham, Talbot, Feasey, Burn, Locke (c), Sharp, Kempster, Graham, Ramsey, Molloy, Salim (Conroy 90+3). Subs not used: Stephenson, Kane.