Tow Law Town 1-2 South Shields
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: East Coast Fibreglass Supplies.
Paul Kane fired a superb double as South Shields came from behind to earn a deserved 2-1 win at Tow Law Town on Saturday.
Shields had to show real patience to get the win in Ebac Northern League Division Two, but Kane struck the vital goal three minutes before the end.
Mariners boss Jon King handed first starts to Adam Ward and 16-year-old Ryan Bolam in the club’s last fixture before Christmas.
Both sides struggled to get to grips with the game early on, but Shields winger Craig Roberts brought the match to life in the eighth minute when he went on an exciting run before being hacked down by Christopher Killeen, who was booked.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges, but Tow Law began to offer more of a threat when Gareth Ayers’ cross from the left was nodded wide by Phillip Bowes.
On 13 minutes, they took the lead in controversial circumstances.
A ball was chipped into the box from the left and claimed by Shields goalkeeper Steven Hubery, who appeared to have it under control before being barged into by Lewis Harrison. No foul was given, the ball was dropped to the floor and Harrison prodded into an empty net, with the Mariners appealing in vain for a free-kick.
Tow Law continued to grow after going in front, with Bowes hammering an effort over from range before they went agonisingly close to establishing a two-goal lead, with the wind at their backs.
Simon Ord forced his way through the Shields back-line, and his shot was tipped onto the post by Hubery, with the ball then rolling along the line before Ward hacked it clear.
Hubery made another fine save on 23 minutes when he palmed wide an effort from Liam Dixon, and when the resulting corner eventually fell to Alistair Wilson, the Shields goalkeeper was quickly off his line to smother the shot.
Hubery’s saves ensured the Mariners got through a difficult period just a goal behind, and they then set about cancelling out Tow Law’s advantage.
Roberts – who had an enterprising game and offered a constant threat – lifted a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box, and soon after, James Talbot was almost played in on goal, only for home goalkeeper Bryan Potts to rush out of his area and clear the danger.
Shields were beginning to turn the screw, and a good move involving several players almost resulted in an equaliser. Stephen Ramsey rolled the ball to Kane, and he teed up Talbot on the edge of the box, but his powerful effort was beaten away by Potts.
Kane drilled an effort wide, but Tow Law almost went 2-0 up 10 minutes before half-time.
After Shields failed to clear their lines, the ball dropped to Ayers on the inside left of the box. His shot towards the far corner beat Hubery, but not Barrie Smith, who had got back to cover and cleared the ball off the line.
Talbot had a shot from distance soon after, and Potts did well to scoop it away after it bounced just in front of him. The ball dropped to Kane, but Potts also denied him.
At the other end, Killeen turned one over after a cross from the right, but Shields almost levelled things up on the stroke of half-time.
Talbot and Bolam linked up well on the right, and Bolam’s low, powerful cross just evaded Kane, who must have been just a matter of inches from connecting and sending it into an empty net.
The second half started quietly, with Potts spilling a cross from Smith, but little else of note in the early minutes.
Tow Law nearly added a second on 58 minutes, though, when Steven Graham surrendered possession on the edge of his own box. The ball was played to Scott Duggan in front of goal, and he looked set to fire in before Graham did superbly, making up for his error by launching into an inch-perfect tackle to snuff out the danger.
That proved to be a defining moment, as on the hour mark, Shields got their equaliser.
Roberts nicked the ball off a Tow Law defender on the left before playing in Kane, who beat his man on the edge of the box before curling a shot beyond Potts and into the bottom corner.
That gave Shields the impetus, and only last-ditch interceptions prevented Bolam and Kane being played in on goal.
Roberts again found Kane on the left soon after, and the striker’s low effort was parried by Potts, with Tow Law managing to scramble the ball to safety.
Chris Locke did well to deflect an effort from Dixon wide at the other end, but that was a rare opportunity for the home side as Shields increased the pressure.
Roberts went on a terrific run on the left before sending a superb delivery into the box. It bounced before finding the onrushing Bolam at the back post, and he prodded an effort goalwards that Potts did well to pluck away from the top corner.
Ayers sliced a shot wide on the counter-attack, but Kane was becoming ever more dangerous, and he conjured a chance for himself before firing over from distance.
With 13 minutes remaining, Hubery did well to deny Scott Brassell, who had shot from distance, but Shields then began to pen their opponents in, with Tow Law struggling to leave their own half.
Roberts went close to scoring a sensational goal on 83 minutes. He beat two men in the centre before rifling a shot goalwards from 25 yards, only to see it bounce back off the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Chris Feasey’s delivery from the left looked perfect for Ramsey in front of goal in the centre, but it bobbled just in front of him, with the ball hitting his knee before being kept out by Potts.
Within a minute, a tremendous ball from Bolam on the right was headed wide by Ramsey, and Shields surely started to wonder whether their deserved winner would ever come.
However, a piece of inspiration from Kane ensured they did grab the three points.
Feasey’s corner from the right was half-cleared, and Kane used his strength to beat his man on the edge of the box before rifling a shot into the top corner that was too hot for Potts to handle.
The ball sailed perfectly into the roof of the net, and the goal sparked scenes of jubilation, with every Shields player joining in the celebrations, including Hubery, who ran over half the length of the pitch.
The Mariners almost had a third as the game ticked into stoppage time, but Potts denied Kane after he was found by Bolam.
Tow Law had two late efforts as they tried to snatch a point, but they were unable to do so as Shields saw the game out to claim the victory.
They will hope to follow it up when they host Hebburn Town at Peterlee next Saturday (December 27).
TOW LAW TOWN: Potts, Wilson, Brassell, Harrison, Killeen, Ryder, Ord (c), Bowes, Duggan, Dixon, Ayers. Subs (from): McVickers, Lee, Smithson, Grant, McVickers.
Goal: Harrison (13).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Hubery, Ward, Feasey, Locke (c), Smith, Graham, Bolam, Talbot (Renton 73), Ramsey, Kane, Roberts.
Goals: Kane (60, 87).