Whitley Bay 4-3 South Shields
By Philip Reay
Despite a superb hat-trick from striker Paul Kane, South Shields went out of the FA Vase on Saturday after a 4-3 defeat against four-time winners Whitley Bay.
Shields were always set to be in for a difficult afternoon, as they were without four suspended players against their Ebac Northern League Division One opponents, but showed tremendous fight throughout.
The Mariners started the game on the front foot, and on three minutes Kane collected the ball on the left flank and rifled a shot from 25 yards that flew inches wide of the upright.
Whitley responded to the early threat, and on six minutes they opened the scoring. A Paul Chow shot was parried by Shields goalkeeper Steven Hubery, and Robbie Bird reacted quickest to fire the home side into the lead.
They maintained the pressure on the Shields defence, and with the game approaching the 10 minute mark, a Brad Brooking corner was headed over the bar by Michael Laws.
The Whitley advantage lasted less than five minutes. Lee Maitland won the ball in the centre of the park and released Kane, who collected it on the left before firing the ball past Daniel Gladstone to restore parity.
The goal stung the home side into action, and Bird collected a ball from Paul Robinson before cutting in towards goal, but his shot was well saved by Hubery.
Shields pressed forward, but were unable to capitalise on their possession as first Chow headed a Steven Graham free-kick clear followed quickly by Gladstone saving from David Molloy.
On the half hour, Adam Sharp picked the ball up from a Chris Locke throw and shrugged off the challenge of a Whitley defender before firing a shot towards goal that was cleared by Chris McDonald.
A minute later, a long clearance by Hubery found Molloy deep inside the Whitley half. Molloy turned his marker before firing a shot at goal that was well saved by Gladstone.
Shields were then hit on the counter attack. Craig McFarlane played the ball into the path of Robinson, who fired a shot at goal that was blocked by the Shields defence, but the ball fell into the path of Bird and he made no mistake from close range to score his and Whitley’s second goal.
Whitley continued to press forward, and Robinson and Chow both had attempts saved by Hubery.
Their pressure brought reward on 38 minutes. Brooking broke down the right flank and fired a cross towards the back post that was met by Chow, and he headed home from close range to take the home side into the break with a two-goal advantage.
Shields made the first change of the game after the break as Alex Kempster replaced the injured Molloy.
Kempster was involved in the action from the start as he collected the ball on the angle of the box, but his shot on the turn flew wide of the post.
Shields were handed an early chance to reduce the arrears as Sharp was fouled inside the box, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Kane placed the ball on the spot before sending the keeper the wrong way to bring the Mariners within a goal of their hosts.
Whitley again pressed forward from the restart, and Bird went close to completing his hat-trick, but his shot struck the post and the danger was cleared.
With the second half 10 minutes old, Kane played the ball wide for James Talbot. Talbot outpaced the defence before firing a shot towards goal that was deflected into the path of Sharp, but with the goal at his mercy, the Shields striker fired the ball high over the bar.
Shields were made to pay for the error as Whitley went straight down the park and Robinson fired the ball past Hubery to give his side a two-goal advantage.
On the hour, the Mariners made their second change as David Conroy replaced Graham.
At the mid-point of the second half, Shields were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Kane fired the ball into the defensive wall and his second shot was also blocked, and again the danger was cleared.
Within a minute, Kane reduced the deficit. Locke combined with Conroy, who played the ball into the path of Kane, and he rifled a 30 yard shot past a stationary Gladstone to reduce the deficit to one goal.
Shields then made their final change as James Pickering replaced Daniel Hall.
The sides traded blows as they both created opportunities, but were unable to beat the respective keepers. Maitland fired over the bar for Shields before Chow shot wide for Whitley.
In the closing stages of the game, only a superb point blank save by Hubery prevented Robinson from extending the home side’s advantage, but it was still the home side that progressed into the next round.
Shields are next in action next Saturday with a trip to Billingham Town as they look to consolidate their league position.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Hubery, Hall (Pickering), Locke (c), Burn, Halliday, Graham (Conroy), Talbot, Maitland, Sharp, Molloy (Kempster), Kane. Subs not used: Houshby, Stephenson.
Goals: Kane (10, pen 50, 66).