Under-18s win again
Shildon Under-18s 0-1 South Shields Under-18s
South Shields Under-18s: Mikey Armstrong, Matty Davidson, Ewan Simpson, Jon Mellish, Ryan Bolam, Jonny Bainbridge, Harry Simpson, Dan Pickering, Logan Powell (Jonny Hope), Ben Bayles (Robbie Colman), Olly Martin (Jake Johns).
South Shields Under-18s won for the second time in a week on Saturday as a late Jake Johns strike earned them a fine 1-0 win at Shildon.
The young Mariners – who were 4-0 winners at Ryhope CW last Tuesday – faced a very strong wind which blew straight down the pitch in the first half.
Shildon were quite direct in their play, and Shields defended numerous balls into their box very well.
Mikey Armstrong did not have a stop to make in the first half, but took the pressure off his team with some good catching from the set pieces Shildon had.
The Mariners played a back three consisting of Matty Davidson, Ewan Simpson and Jon Mellish.
Manager Kevin Bolam said: “Matty and Jon had never played in a back three before, but they were top class and showed excellent desire to not concede chances, let alone goals.
“We played five across the middle, with Jonny Bainbridge being given the responsibility of sitting in and doing the defensive side, along with Harry Simpson, both of whom tackled for fun in the middle of the park, and also helped set up attacks for us.
“Dan Pickering was given the licence to get forward from the central three, and Ryan Bolam and Logan Powell were asked to do both sides out wide, both of whom done so very well.
“Up top, we went with Olly Martin, who was given his full debut alongside Ben Bayles.
“On the day, we were without no fewer then six first-team players in Matty Johnson, Sonny Moyse Mukhtar, Mark Brown, Reece Marsden, Luke Cowie and Carl Page.”
Shields had the best chance of the first half when Bolam’s cross from a short corner was headed wide by Simpson.
They saw out the first half without any major problems, and then had the wind at their backs for the second period.
The young Mariners started the half a little sloppily, but soon got on top, and had a lot of possession without creating a lot.
The first chance came from a terrific whipped ball in from Bolam, but Martin put it over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Shildon had their best chance of the game after a great run from one of their forwards, but Armstrong was there to make a good stop to keep the score at 0-0.
Shields got back on top and pinned Shildon back in, but similarly to the hosts in the first half, they could not create a clear opening until a great cross field move involving Bainbridge, Simpson and Martin released Mellish.
He in turn played in Powell, who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but as he touched it past him, a Shildon player was on hand to clear. This was the best chance of the game to that point.
Pickering and Bolam fashioned another great chance when the latter got to the byline and pulled a ball back for Simpson, but he headed wide.
Not long after and it was Bolam again who went past his full-back and put a great ball in, but Bayles, Jonny Hope and Pickering all went ahead of the ball instead of one staying out for the pull back.
The players at the back gave Shields the platform to keep going forward for the winner, and it was the three substitutes who fashioned the winner.
Hope chased down a lost cause and put the defender under pressure, and the young Mariners nicked it in Shildon’s half.
Robbie Colman showed great persistence in the box, and as he was about to shoot he was knocked off balance, but managed to touch it to Johns, who smashed a great shot into the far top corner to give Shields a deserved victory against a good Shildon side
Bolam added: “All of the lads were excellent on the day in difficult conditions, and it bodes well for next season, when we will have a stronger squad again, with current and new players joining the club.
“It’s great that we have had five or six lads from the 18s all getting game time in the first-team, and that’s the priority for me.
“Developing them for the Northern League is what it’s all about for me, and hopefully some of them over the next few years will go on to become regulars in the first-team.”