West Allotment Celtic 3-2 South Shields
By Daniel Prince
South Shields were edged out by promotion-chasing West Allotment Celtic at a windswept Whitley Park.
The Mariners held an impressive 2-1 lead at half-time after two well-taken Peter Kane goals, but could not take advantage of a number of other opportunities.
They were punished in the second half as the home side put on the pressure to win 3-2, with the strong wind playing a major part.
It was apparent from the outset that the conditions would affect the game, with long throws from both sides causing some problems.
After one throw from the left for Celtic caused havoc and eventually went out at the other end, Shields felt they should have had a throw, but the decision went the other way.
Sean Reid then launched the resulting throw into the danger area, and David Dormand hooked it in from just inside the box to give the hosts the lead on nine minutes.
Liam Hudson narrowly nodded wide five minutes later for Celtic, while Stephen Ramsey sliced a decent chance at the other end over the bar.
However, Shields were growing in confidence, and got their equaliser on 17 minutes when a ball over the top found Kane, who excellently chipped the ball over the goalkeeper.
The impressive Shaun Smith’s audacious effort from 30 yards was palmed over on 24 minutes, but the Mariners did not have to wait much longer to get their noses in front.
Luke Richardson’s cross from the left was headed in at the back post by the lively Kane in the 25th minute, and the forward then had several more chances to add to his tally.
First, he saw a header from a corner cleared off the line by Michael Bell, before he later got in between the two central defenders and headed over when he perhaps should have hit the target.
Kane’s first-half performance was excellent, and there was no doubt he was the difference between the two sides before the break.
The second half was a different story, though, with West Allotment piling the pressure on their visitors.
On 50 minutes, Dormand went agonisingly close to levelling when his excellent effort hit the bar and bounced down.
There were claims that the ball had crossed the line, but the linesman kept his flag down and Shields preserved their lead.
Reid’s powerful effort three minutes later brought an impressive save out of Jak Wells, but he was beaten on the hour mark.
A free-kick from just outside the box on the left from Reid curled into the top left corner, and Shields suddenly found themselves looking to hold onto a point against the wind for half an hour.
When they tried to get out of danger, the ball invariably came back their way once the wind had taken hold of it, and as such the Mariners struggled to get out of their own half.
There were few real chances for Celtic, though, until Wells made a terrific save to deny Dormand on 77 minutes.
From the resulting corner, Reid sent a free header wide, while a looping, deflected effort from Dormand was later turned over by Wells.
That gave Celtic another chance to cause problems from a corner, though, and sure enough, they took advantage.
With seven minutes left, a corner from Marc Dummett – brother of Newcastle United left-back Paul – swung in perfectly onto the head of Dormand, who could not miss from in front of goal.
His powerful header sealed Shields’ fate, and the home side comfortably saw the game out to take the three points.
The Mariners had held out for a long time in difficult conditions, but were ultimately worn down by the promotion-chasing Celtic, who will feel they deserved the victory based on the second 45 minutes.
Shields return to action when they travel to Tow Law Town on Saturday for the Lawyers’ 3,000th game in the Northern League.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Wells, Hall, Riding, White, Locke, Richardson, S Smith, Davidson (O’Brien 58), Ramsey (c), Peter Kane, L Clark (Feasey 87). Subs not used: Phillips, Burnell, Fenwick.
Goals: Kane (17, 25).