South Shields ended with nine men as they pulled off an incredible 2-1 win at Sunderland RCA last night – their 28th victory in a row.
The Mariners showed remarkable character in a thrilling game after going in at half-time a goal and a man down.
They came out for the second half like a team possessed, and turned the match around with goals from Julio Arca and Gavin Cogdon.
Shields are now eight points adrift of leaders North Shields in Northern League Division One, with three games in hand, and saw the result out despite being forced down to nine men in stoppage time when Stephen Ramsey was stretchered off with a suspected broken leg.
It was a breathless game at Meadow Park as Shields took to the field for the second time in three days.
They fell behind after just eight minutes when John Butler’s cross from the left was headed in by Ross Preston at the back post.
The Mariners struggled to create any opportunities of note in the first half, and their chances looked to have been given a body blow two minutes before the break when Alex Nicholson was sent off for an off-the-ball incident.
Arca was introduced at half-time, and was one of a number of players to put in an incredible performance to grab the three points.
Michael Richardson was also brought on early in the second half and was another to make a big impact.
On 57 minutes, Shields looked sure to be awarded a penalty when Cogdon was fouled seemingly two yards inside the area by substitute goalkeeper Neal Bussey, but the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.
That mattered not, as Arca curled in a majestic effort from the set play to spark euphoric celebrations as the Mariners pulled level.
They now had the momentum, and went agonisingly close to taking the lead when Richardson broke through the middle and saw his effort hit both posts before bouncing to safety.
Less than a minute later, though, the vital moment arrived. Wayne Phillips’ corner from the right was dropped by Bussey, and Cogdon was on hand to turn the ball home.
Pete Jameson, in the Shields goal, made a good save from Preston before Ramsey went down injured as the game ticked beyond 90 minutes.
When it resumed, Shields had just nine players after using all three substitutes, and 10 minutes of stoppage time were played. Despite some nervy moments, Shields held on, with Jameson making two terrific saves.
The Mariners won amid euphoric scenes as their run went on, and now they host Bishop Auckland tomorrow as they aim for victory number 29.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Jameson, Baxter, Lough, Storey, Morse, Shaw (c), Nicholson, Phillips, Cogdon (Ramsey 76), Stephenson (Richardson 55), Finnigan (Arca 46). Subs not used: Petrache, Holden.
Goals: Arca (60), Cogdon (68).
Sent off: Nicholson (43).