Team Solent 2-5 South Shields: Mariners progress to Vase quarter-finals
South Shields qualified for the quarter-finals of the FA Vase for the first time since 1976 after seeing off Team Solent 5-2 on a memorable day on the south coast on Saturday.
The Mariners were made to work by the university outfit, who fought back after going behind to an Alex Nicholson strike early on.
After Solent equalised, home skipper Jesse Waller Lassen hit a penalty against the post in first half stoppage time, which proved to be a real turning point.
Shields wrestled back control after half-time, retaking the lead through an own goal before David Foley put them further ahead.
Although the hosts pulled one goal back, the Mariners went on to seal the victory in the closing stages, with substitute Carl Finnigan putting them 4-2 up and then captain Julio Arca scoring a stunning goal from 40 yards to spark jubilant scenes among an incredible away following of over 450 in Southampton.
Shields now await Monday’s draw for the last eight. For periods in the first half on Saturday, though, it looked doubtful they would be in it.
They were almost rocked in the opening stages when goalkeeper Liam Connell had to beat away an effort from Adeoye Olumuyiwa.
Shields were not firing on all cylinders, but Foley was denied by a fine save and Gavin Cogdon headed an effort against the post as they started to take control.
A period of pressure was rewarded when Nicholson played a corner short to Cogdon, who gave it back, allowing Nicholson to run into the box and sweep the ball into the bottom corner.
It was his first goal for the Mariners, and some time to get it.
The university outfit responded well, with Connell having to tip a Waller Lassen free-kick over the bar.
The hosts levelled soon after, with left-back Curtis Thorn clipping a ball over the top for Jim Orvis, who touched it past Connell.
Robert Briggs saw a good shot saved at the other end, but Shields were on the back foot.
Oluwatore Adekule had two glorious opportunities, but hit one wide from in front of goal and was denied by Connell with the other.
Two minutes into stoppage time, with Cogdon off receiving treatment for a head injury, Solent were awarded a contentious penalty.
But Waller Lassen could only hit against the post, with Connell doing brilliantly to tip the rebound over the bar.
In the second half, Shields were improved, with Wayne Phillips curling a shot onto the roof of the net before they took the lead again when Foley’s ball across the box was turned into his own net by Ellis White.
Within three minutes, the Mariners extended their advantage as Briggs clipped a ball over the top for in-form Foley to run onto, and he clinically slotted home.
Briggs hit the bar with an audacious flick but the hosts were not done, and pulled a goal back through Patrick Nolan 13 minutes from time.
They should have levelled, but substitute Lewis Pitts could only head straight at Connell.
Shields took advantage, with Finnigan firing them 4-2 ahead after more good work by Foley, and then Arca sealing an excellent afternoon with his moment of magic, as he dipped an effort over the goalkeeper and underneath the crossbar from 40 yards.
That sparked jubilant scenes at the final whistle as fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate with the team.
Shields now go in search of a 15th consecutive win when they host Hartlepool United in the quarter-final of the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Nicholson (Holden 86), Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Briggs, Phillips (Smith 76), Cogdon (Finnigan 62), Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Stephenson, Ramsey.
Goals: Nicholson (19), White own goal (53), Foley (56), Finnigan (84), Arca (90+4).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.