The 9 key games that secured South Shields an historic title

South Shields produced an incredible run of form since the turn of the year to fire themselves to the Northern League Division One title.

On March 18, North Shields beat Bishop Auckland 1-0 to open up a 17-point gap on their title rivals. Exactly one month later, on April 18, South Shields were crowned champions.

Gavin Cogdon and Julio Arca celebrate a stunning comeback against Sunderland RCA with just 10 men

Gavin Cogdon and Julio Arca celebrate a stunning comeback against Sunderland RCA with just 10 men

Although the Mariners had six games in hand, it still required a monumental effort to reel the Robins in, and with Morpeth Town also chasing hard on their heels, the title race went down to the last week of the season before Shields prevailed.

Here we look at the nine key games over the course of the season that secured the Mariners their first ever Northern League crown.

October 1, 2016: South Shields 2 Sunderland RCA 2

The Mariners trailed 2-0 and were down to 10 men with just 20 minutes left to play after Dillon Morse’s red card. However, a superb fightback saw Gavin Cogdon reduce the deficit before Julio Arca grabbed an equaliser with just four minutes remaining.

Cogdons injury time winner against Ashington was crucial

Cogdons injury time winner against Ashington was crucial

October 8, 2016: South Shields 3 Ashington 2

Shields trailed 2-1 at half-time, with defender Gavin Caines getting their goal on his one and only appearance for the club. After the break, an Arca penalty pulled the home side level and deep into injury time, Cogdon chested the ball down and rifled home a dramatic winner.

October 12, 2016: Shildon 0 South Shields 1

Cogdon scored the winner for the second time in four days as Shields produced their best performance of the season to date to stun the defending champions.

Louis Storey heads home a late winner against Benfield

Louis Storey heads home a late winner against Benfield

October 15, 2016: Morpeth Town 0 South Shields 4

If the Shildon win had established Shields as genuine title contenders, the league was made to sit up and take notice just a couple of days later as fellow championship contenders Morpeth were dispatched in style. A three-goal blast inside 12 first-half minutes – Cogdon grabbing a brace and Robert Briggs also on target – put Shields in control at half-time and Wayne Phillips sealed the win after the break as the FA Vase holders were well and truly dismantled.

December 9, 2016: Seaham Red Star 1 South Shields 2

The Mariners had to dig deep to win this game. They had a nightmare start, trailing to a Craig Lynch goal after just 40 seconds, but Carl Finnigan pulled them level on the hour mark before a sumptuous free-kick from Briggs gave them all three points.

Gavin Cogdon congratulates David Foley after he completed his hat-trick against Roofing

Gavin Cogdon congratulates David Foley after he completed his hat-trick against Roofing

January 21, 2017: Jarrow Roofing 0 South Shields 7

A local derby and with Roofing have bolstered their squad with some fine signings, and finding some form, this was a potential banana skin for Shields. However, a stunning start saw the visitors 2-0 up inside six minutes, four-up after 24 minutes and by half-time they led 5-0. David Foley hit a hat-trick, Morse and Cogdon weighed in with braces as a bumper South Tyneside crowd were treat to a feast of football.

February 22, 2017: Newcastle Benfield 0 South Shields 1

The Mariners made it a club-equalling record 20 wins in a row, but left it so late as Louis Storey’s 87th-minute header gave them all three points.

March 30, 2017: Sunderland RCA 1 South Shields 2

Arguably the game that won Shields the title. In the midst of five games in 10 days, they trailed 1-0 at half-time and with Alex Nicholson sent off, looked dead and buried. But Arca, sent on as a half-time sub, produced a brilliant performance to drag them back into the game, scoring a great free-kick to level matters on the hour. Eight minutes later, Cogdon turned home what turned to be the winner, but the drama didn’t end there. Stephen Ramsey was stretchered off with a broken leg and having used all their substitutes, Shields had to hold on for 10 minutes of injury time with nine men.

April 8, 2017: North Shields 0 South Shields 1

The home side had led the league for so long, but were finally caught in front of a huge crowd as the Mariners again dug deep after Arca was red-carded with 30 minutes left. Foley’s stunning strike meant promotion was sealed, an unofficial world record 31st successive win achieved and Shields went top of the table on goal difference with two games in hand.