Under-15s edged out
By Philip Reay
Due to a combination of holidays and injuries, South Shields Under-15s travelled to Spennymoor Town with only the bare minimum 11 players.
The young Mariners started the game on the front foot, and inside five minutes a flowing move started by Josh Smith in the centre of the park, which later involved Alex McBeth and Codie Howe, ended with a shot by Howe that was well saved by Ryan Wall in the Spennymoor goal.
Within a minute, Smith orchestrated another Shields move. He won the ball in the centre of the park and turned away from his marker before slipping the ball to George Daglish, and he in turn found Howe in space, but he was again denied by a good save by Wall.
Shields continued to press forward, and were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out that was driven towards goal by Smith, but it was deflected by the defensive wall into the hands of keeper Wall.
As the game approached the 10th minute, Shields were awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal that was fired goalwards by Howe, but again Wall was on hand to deny the striker.
From the clearance, Spennymoor broke forward with Jack Johnson, but a superb defensive tackle by McBeth cleared the danger.
On the quarter-hour, Sam Urwin collected the ball wide on the right flank, but his cross into the box eluded the head of James Hogg.
The Shields juniors were dominating the game, but were unable to make the decisive breakthrough.
On 20 minutes, McBeth picked the ball up on the left flank and skipped past three Spennymoor defenders as he cut in towards goal, but his shot from the edge of the box was well saved by Wall.
From Wall’s clearance, Spennymoor again pressed forward, and were awarded a free-kick on the left, 20 yards from goal, but Jack Ramage saved comfortably from the Spennymoor No5.
The young Shields team were playing some good flowing football, and were awarded a free-kick on the right flank that was fired into the box by Tom Birkett towards Urwin, but he was unable to trouble the keeper as he fired his shot wide.
On the half hour, Urwin floated a free-kick into the box for Howe, but his header flew wide of the post.
In the last action of an entertaining first half, Hogg and Howe combined on the left. Some superb close control from Howe took him past two defenders, but again Wall was on hand to deny him, and the sides left the field still level.
Unfortunately for Shields, an injury to Smith meant he was unable to take to the field for the second half, and the hosts took advantage of their numerical advantage inside the first five minutes as Johnson fired them into the lead.
The goal spurred the home side forward as they pressurised the Shields defence, and on 55 minutes, in controversial circumstances, they doubled their advantage. A corner on the right found Sam Dawson, and his shot appeared to be saved by Ramage, but the referee adjudged the ball to have crossed the line.
Shields responded well to the setback, and a 30 yard strike from Lewis Slater shaved the top of the bar.
Spennymoor were dominating possession as they made their numerical supremacy count, but stoic defending by Ethan Henderson and Liam Andersen snuffed out the threat posed by the Spennymoor strikers.
Combined to this, a battling midfield performance from Daglish, Slater, Urwin, McBeth and Hogg ensured that Spennymoor were unable to add to their advantage.
In the closing stages of the game, Shields mounted a couple of attacking forays. Howe twisted and turned past two Spennymoor defenders before playing the ball into the path of McBeth, but his shot was blocked by the home defence.
In added time, McBeth won the ball on the left before releasing Birkett, and he in turn found Andersen, but his shot flew just wide of the post and the game ended in defeat despite a spirited performance.