Whitby Town 0-1 South Shields: Late Baxter goal seals win on the road
Craig Baxter drilled in a late winner as South Shields banished their away day blues with a memorable 1-0 victory at Whitby Town on Saturday.
Baxter found the net nine minutes from the end to seal the Mariners’ third win on the road this season in front of an estimated away following of 500.
Shields had been knocking on the door for much of the second half before Baxter struck the decisive blow with his third goal for the club.
It was an important win for Shields as they closed the gap on top two Scarborough Athletic and Nantwich Town, who were both beaten.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton made no changes to the Mariners side which defeated North Ferriby United 4-0 in the FA Trophy four days earlier, and they immediately had to battle the conditions as they kicked into a strong wind.
Whitby pinned them back in the early stages and had some opportunities.
Lewis Maloney volleyed over from close range after a delivery from the right, before Dale Hopson dragged an effort wide and Junior Mondial thrashed a further shot over.
Shields gradually gained a foothold and had their first chance on the half-hour mark as Blair Adams’ shot from the edge of the area was deflected over and captain Jon Shaw headed wide from the resulting corner.
Both sides struggled to create clear-cut opportunities in the remainder of the half but Shields went into the break confident ahead of having the wind at their backs in the second period.
They immediately made inroads, and almost took the lead seven minutes into the second half when David Foley rattled the crossbar with a curled effort after being played in by Josh Gillies.
The Mariners had come out for the second half with the bit between their teeth and went close again when substitute Ben Harmison nodded the ball down to Lee Mason and he prodded it just past the post.
Adams was next to go close as he fizzed a ball across the area which was deflected out for a corner, before Shaw had an even better chance when he headed wide from close range.
It was beginning to look like it might be one of those days for Shields as further chances came and went.
Adams was finding joy on the left flank and almost provided the breakthrough when his teasing delivery found Foley at the back post, but he could only divert the ball over.
Whitby had struggled to break into the Shields half in the second half, but fired their visitors a warning with 15 minutes left when Mondial flicked an effort wide after a ball from the right by Josh Nearney.
The Mariners responded in style and broke the deadlock in fine style in the 81st minute.
Mason beat the defence with a superb pass on the right of the area as he played in Baxter, and he rifled a shot into the bottom left corner to spark jubilant scenes among the large away support.
Shields continued to have much of the play after the goal and almost made it two when Mason’s effort was scrambled clear.
Liam Connell was called on to make a decent save from Maloney before Shields had another chance as Mason was played in by Harmison before firing well over.
The hosts’ final chance to seal a late point fell the way of captain Hopson, but he skewed his effort wide from long range as Shields saw the game out.
The celebrations after the final whistle showed how much it meant to all connected with the club as they ended their run of away defeats.
They will look for another victory on Saturday when they host Hyde United in the FA Trophy.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 73), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Lowe (Mouanda 83), Briggs, Mason, Gillies (Harmison 53), Foley. Subs not used: Wright, Guy.
Goal: Baxter (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.