Young Mariners progress in FA Youth Cup with impressive win at Gateshead
A spell of three goals in 10 minutes either side of half-time booked South Shields’ place in the first qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup as they came from behind to win an entertaining North East derby at Gateshead on Friday.
The Mariners found themselves behind against the run of play on the half-hour mark but recovered well, with Will Jenkins slotting in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Goals from Sam Hodgson and Ben Errington early in the second period put Shields into a commanding position and although their two-goal lead was quickly halved, they did enough to see out the victory.
Shields made it all the way to the second round of the Youth Cup last season and looked in determined mood to make a strong start to this campaign.
They started the match strongly and should have taken the lead in the fourth minute when a Stephen Black corner found Errington, but he crashed the ball against the crossbar from point blank range. He would make up for that miss later in the game.
The Mariners hit the woodwork again less than a minute later as Will Morris’ cross from the right deceived home goalkeeper Alfie Gordan and struck the bar.
The away side went close again when Josh Croft’s ball in from the left fell to Joao Gomes, whose powerful low effort was brilliantly held by Gordan.
Sam Carson was one of Gateshead’s liveliest players and he tested Shields goalkeeper Aaron Steavens in the 10th minute with a shot from distance.
Shields were creating most of the opportunities, though, and went close again as a 20 yard free-kick by Jenkins went not far past the post.
Errington and captain Joe Lockey also had efforts blocked as the Mariners continued to knock on the door, before Gateshead burst to life on the counter-attack in the 24th minute.
The hosts breached the Shields back line and played in Eddie Thomas on the left of the area, but Steavens superbly saved with his feet. He followed that up with an even better stop less than a minute later, tipping a Charlie Hindson piledriver over the bar after it looked destined to find the top corner.
He was beaten on the half-hour mark, though, and there was little he could do to stop it.
Carson let fly from 20 yards and his sweet left-footed strike kissed the near post before nestling in the net.
The chances dried up for Shields in the minutes which followed but they recovered before half-time and fired their first warning as Gomes pulled the ball back to Jenkins just inside the area, but he was off target with his shot.
When he was presented with another opportunity as the first half ticked into stoppage time, he was not going to pass it up.
This time it was Morris who was the provider as he motored down the right and slid a ball across the box which Hodgson dummied, leaving Jenkins to place it into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
Shields carried that momentum into the start of the second half and took the lead in the 51st minute.
Croft came inside from the left and stroked the ball through to Hodgson on the inside-left of the box. First-time, he brushed the ball into the opposite bottom corner with impressive composure as the Mariners went ahead for the first time.
Gomes went close to doubling their advantage just a minute later, but Shields did not have to wait too much longer for their third.
It arrived via a well-worked corner routine as Jenkins clipped the ball in and it was cleared as far as Hodgson, whose on-target strike was flicked home by Errington from close range.
Almost immediately, the Heed pulled one back as Kieron Clark robbed Steavens of possession 20 yards from goal and finished calmly.
The home side struggled to create opportunities for an equaliser, though, and almost fell two behind again when Shields substitute Tom Green showed great footwork to beat a defender before stroking the ball just wide.
Gordon kept Gateshead in it with an impressive low save from Morris and Errington was denied by a block as the Mariners were unable to make the game safe.
They did enough to see it out, though, as they booked a trip to Carlisle City in the first qualifying round.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Steavens, Wade, Croft, Ames (Dunn 65), Errington, Lockey (c), Morris (Williamson 89), Black, S Hodgson, Jenkins (Green 65), Gomes. Subs not used: E Hodgson, Taylor.
Goals: Jenkins (45+1), Hodgson (51), Errington (54).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.