Tow Law Town 1-1 South Shields
By Philip Reay
South Shields travelled to Tow Law on Saturday to provide the opposition in a landmark 3000th Northern League game for the Lawyers.
Flowing football was never going to be the order of the day on a typically windy day at the Ironworks Road ground.
Playing with the wind at their back, South Shields enjoyed a period of early pressure but were unable to trouble Longstaff in the Tow Law goal.
As the game entered the 10th minute, Shields won a series of corners that were floated into the box by Chris Feasey, but again they were unable to capitalise as the Tow Law defence held firm.
On 15 minutes, Mariners striker Adam Burnicle had the ball in the net, but the celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee had signalled that he was offside and the score remained 0-0.
From the clearance, Tow Law pressed forward through Harrison, but his cross was deflected behind for a corner by Tito Davidson; Pinkney sent the resulting corner into the box, but the danger was cleared by Feasey.
The game started to come to life with both sides creating scoring opportunities; on 20 minutes a Feasey shot was deflected by Wilson for the first in a series of three corners for the Mariners, but again they could not prise open the Tow Law defence.
Tow Law responded immediately. Pinkney collected the ball on the right and advanced towards goal; he beat his man before firing the ball into the Shields box, but Jak Wells was on hand to pluck the ball off the head of Tow Law striker Thexton.
Again Shields pressed forward as Davidson and Shaun Smith combined on the right flank.
Smith fired the ball towards Stephen Ramsey in the Tow Law box, but again Pinkney reacted quickest and the ball was deflected for a corner.
Within a minute, Smith again tormented the Tow Law defence, and this time he found Ramsey in space, but the Shields striker fired his shot over the bar.
Shields continued to pressurise the Tow Law defence, and a long throw by Ben Riding found Burnicle on the edge of the box, however once again the keeper wasn’t troubled as the shot flew over the bar.
On the ½ hour, Riding sent a cross into the box towards Burnicle, but he was beaten to the ball by Tow Law defender Kelly and the danger was cleared.
Tow Law were unable to break out of defence as Shields continued to press forward, but despite spending lengthy periods of time on the back foot, the Tow Law defence could not be breached as Shields were restricted to long range efforts at goal that were comfortably dealt with by the defence.
In the closing stages of the half, Shields were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal, but Feasey’s shot was deflected for a corner and again the danger was cleared and the sides went into the break still locked at 0-0.
Tow Law enjoyed the early pressure in the second half, but were unable to trouble Wells in the Shields goal as first Pinkney and then Blemmings fired wide.
As the hour mark approached, Ryder fired a long free-kick into the Shields box that was met by Ord, but he fired his shot over the bar.
The hosts then took the lead on 63 minutes. Dean Thexton collected the ball on the left and fired a 25 yard shot at goal that took a slight deflection to beat Wells, to the delight of the home crowd.
Tow Law continued to press forward, but could not extend their advantage as Blemmings headed over from close range.
Shields came close to levelling the scores as Burnicle fired a shot towards goal only to be denied by the outstretched leg of Longstaff.
A minute later and Shields were level. Ramsey and Burnicle combined on the right, but Burnicle’s shot was parried by Longstaff.
However, the ball fell to Luke Richardson, and he fired the ball into the back of the net.
The goal spurred the Mariners forward and only a fine save by Longstaff prevented Burnicle from giving Shields the advantage; from the resulting corner, Ricky Fenwick found Riding in space, but his header hit the underside of the bar before being hacked clear by the defence.
With 10 minutes remaining, Shields again went close as Richardson collected a ball from Davidson, but he was denied by a diving save from Longstaff.
Shields thought they had taken the lead a moment later as Colin White chipped the ball over Longstaff, only to be denied by the offside flag.
The Mariners maintained the pressure on the Tow Law defence as they went looking for a winner.
Ramsey found Smith in space, but his header was tipped round the post for a corner; from the resulting corner Shields thought they should have been awarded a penalty as Riding was kicked in the head as he went for the ball, but the referee waved play on.