Under-18s beat Brandon

By Daniel Prince

South Shields Under-18s produced a fine first half performance on their way to a 3-1 win over Brandon United’s Under-18s in the Durham County FA League on Tuesday.

Goals from Ben Bayles, Dan Pickering and Ryan Bolam secured the three points for the young Mariners at the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground.

Shields started the game on the front foot, and after narrowly missing with a number of opportunities, they took the lead on 19 minutes.

Good approach play down the right involving Jonny Bainbridge and Bolam led to Bayles receiving the ball in the box, and a good turn and finish from him opened the scoring.

Around a minute later, it was 2-0, with this goal originating from good work down the left from Jon Mellish and Ewan Simpson. The ball into the box found Pickering, whose first shot was blocked before he rolled the rebound into the bottom corner.

Bolam then scored the goal of the game on 24 minutes. After receiving the ball on the right, he cut inside his full back and rifled the ball from 30 yards into the far top corner.

Brandon improved after half-time and pulled a goal back with five minutes left after a free-kick from 20 yards, but Shields had done enough to claim the victory.

Under-18s coach Kevin Bolam said: “The first half performance was the best we have played since before Christmas, and Ryan Bolam’s goal was a top candidate for goal of the season for me with a tremendous strike from distance.

“It was nice to see the two lads who have had game time with the first team – Ryan and Dan – getting on the score sheet.

“Full credit to Brandon at half-time, though; they stuck at it and showed good resolve to keep us out in the second half.

“However, some of our approach play was very good, and we really should have scored at least another couple of goals.

“All in all, though, I was very pleased with the overall performance from the lads, and we now have six games left this season, and our aim is to finish as high as possible in our first season in this league.

“We are an Under-17s squad, so everyone will be eligible next season to play in what is the best youth league in the area.

“We currently sit sixth, and we hope to break into the top four if at all possible.”

South Shields Under-18s team against Brandon: Mikey Armstrong, Jonny Bainbridge, Ewan Simpson, Matthew Johnson, Mark Brown, Ryan Bolam, Dan Pickering, Harry Simpson (sub Jamie Simmons), Jon Mellish (sub Jake Johns), Matthew Davidson (sub Ollie Martin), Ben Bayles (sub Logan Powell).

South Shields Under-18s remaining games this season:

Shildon (a)

Ryhope (a)

Hebburn (a)

Seaham (h)

New Hartley (a)

Stockton (a)