By Daniel Prince
South Shields Under-18s fell to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Shildon in the League Cup at Harton Welfare on Saturday.
The Mariners went behind early on but fought back to go 2-1 ahead.
However, the visitors ultimately got the better of Shields as they booked their place in the next round.
Shildon took the lead in the 10th minute thanks to a fine piece of work from Ryan Nelson. He picked the ball up on the right, carried the ball inside and drove the ball left-footed into the bottom corner.
The young Mariners responded quickly, though, and a terrific corner from Ryan Bolam almost led to a leveller. He swung the ball in from the left and it landed in the six-yard box before being diverted narrowly over the bar.
Bolam’s set-pieces were a constant threat to Shildon, and Shields’ equaliser came from another of his corners on 24 minutes. He again delivered the ball from the left, and it went perfectly onto the head of Reece Marsden, who nodded it past the goalkeeper.
Shields took the lead 11 minutes later after a fine move. The ball eventually found its way to the right flank and was pulled back for Matty Johnson. He took a touch to bring the ball under control just inside the box, and then used his next touch to poke it into the bottom corner.
It was the home side’s best spell of the game, but they could not add any more goals before the half-time whistle.
Shildon reacted well in the second half, and got level within nine minutes of the restart.
Ben Addison converted a penalty after a foul on the inside-right of the box, but Shields immediately set about trying to restore their lead.
Substitute Logan Powell used his pace to get free of his man before dinking a shot which was tipped just wide.
Shildon grew in stature as the second half went on, and had a goal correctly ruled out for offside, while one shot flashed narrowly wide of the upright.
Their winner came on 81 minutes through a fine individual strike from David Vincent. He skipped past a number of Shields players before powering the ball in to give his side a lead they would not let slip.
The Mariners did push for an equaliser, but Shildon saw the game out to take their place in the next round.
Kevin Bolam, South Shields’ Under-18s coach, said: “We were disappointed to say the least with our second half performance after turning the score around in the first half.
“To be honest, the last few weeks when we have been on the end of defeats, it has always been by the one goal, and we are gifting too many goals to opposing teams. We will work hard at training to put this right, though.
“We have to be more clinical from our set pieces, as Ryan’s set pieces were excellent and we scored from one of them.
“We are learning all the time, and next season we will be better for it, and we will be stronger with more competition for places, with new players coming in also.”
South Shields Under-18s team: Mikey Armstrong, Carl Page, Ewan Simpson, Mark Brown (sub Sonny Moyse Mukhtar), Reece Marsden, Johnny Bainbridge, Matty Johnson, Dan Pickering (sub Logan Powell), Jake Johns (sub Ben Bayles), Ryan Bolam, Matthew Davidson.
Shildon Under-18s team: Hall, Metcalf, Saunders, Atkinson, Smith, Dunn, Vincent, Lee, Cook, Addison, Nelson.
Shields Under-18s are in their first season in the Durham County FA League, and are playing against teams who are mostly a year older than them.
They are sixth in the table, and face Shildon again in their next fixture, on Saturday, away from home.