Jon Shaw’s last-minute strike completed a superb second-half comeback from South Shields as they came from 3-1 down to take a point from Consett on Saturday.
The Mariners looked like they were set for defeat in their opening Northern League Division One game, but goals from Julio Arca and Shaw in the second-half gave things a different complexion.
It was a difficult encounter for Shields on the 3G surface at Belle View, with Consett having started the season with two consecutive victories, including a 7-0 league win over Ashington on Tuesday.
The Mariners found themselves 3-1 down at half-time, and although assistant manager Lee Picton was delighted with the comeback, he was left with “mixed emotions”.
He said: “I’ve got real mixed emotions, to be honest. I’m still really disappointed with the first-half performance and the goals we conceded after the work we did during the week, but we asked the lads to simply show a bit more character, heart and determination in the second half.
“Anyone that was at the game would see that we showed that, so we gave the lads a massive pat on the back at the end.
“We were pretty unlucky not to come out on top in the end. We hit the post twice, but on the flip-side, we could have been more than 3-1 down in the first half, so it’s swings and roundabouts.”
Early on, David Carson had an effort well saved for Shields, but Consett started the quicker of the two teams, and Jake Stafford fired them in front on seven minutes when the ball fell to him after an Elliott save, and he slammed it into the bottom corner.
Soon after, he denied Michael Sweet as the Mariners struggled to gain a foothold.
However, they were provided with just that by Gavin Cogdon in the 17th minute as he scored his first competitive goal for the club. After collecting the ball midway inside the Consett half, he drove forward before slotting it into the bottom of the net from the edge of the box.
Shields were unable to build on that, though, and almost immediately surrendered parity when they gave it away at the back, only for Elliott to excellently deny Luke Sullivan in a one-on-one.
Elliott made an even better save moments later when he tipped a Sweet header onto the crossbar, but he was powerless to prevent the same player from restoring the home advantage as he powerfully nodded a Sullivan cross into the top corner.
Although the Mariners were unable to get their football flowing, they always possessed a threat, and they almost levelled when Arca had an effort cleared off the line.
However, the all-important fourth goal of the game went the way of the hosts when Sullivan nipped in behind on the inside-right of the box before beating Elliott.
After the break, Shields looked more confident on the ball and also restricted Consett better.
Elliott still needed to be on hand to keep out an effort from Sullivan, but the Mariners got the route back into the game they were searching for when Barrie Smith was fouled in the area, with Arca making no mistake from the spot as he rattled it past home goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald.
Arca almost fired Shields back on level terms soon after as he hit one just wide from the edge of the box, but it looked like time was beginning to run out for the visitors when Cogdon also aimed an effort not far off target.
With two minutes left, substitute Louis Storey went agonisingly close to scoring the leveller as his header from a Ben Riding throw-in bounced back off the post. Cogdon collected the ball and fired goalwards, but his effort was blocked by the hand of a defender, with appeals for a penalty waved away.
Shields’ equaliser did eventually come, though, in the 90th minute when Carson went on a surging run through the centre from inside his own half, and when he played it into Shaw, there was only one thing on the striker’s mind as he got it out of his feet and rattled it into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
With momentum behind them and still stoppage time to play, there were some hopes that the Mariners could go on and snatch a dramatic victory, but Consett held firm and when the referee’s final whistle blew, the point gained must have felt more like three for South Shields.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Elliott, Smith (Byrne 83), Turner, Danny Carson, Riding, Arca (c), David Carson, Briggs (Storey 59), Shaw, Cogdon, Foley. Subs not used: Carmichael, Morse.
Goals: Cogdon (17), Arca (pen 62), Shaw (90).