Michael Turner’s bullet header secured promotion for South Shields last night as they battled to a 1-0 win at Easington Colliery.
The Mariners put in a solid and composed performance against the sixth-placed side, but had to show patience to get the victory.
Just after the hour mark, the breakthrough finally arrived, with Turner showing great determination to get on the end of a corner and send the huge travelling support into raptures.
With five games to spare, Shields are now assured of Northern League Division One football next season.
They were made to work hard by Easington, though, who have taken numerous scalps this term after winning promotion from the Wearside League last time out.
One of their best victories came against Shields at Mariners Park, but the Mariners controlled the game throughout last night.
They almost took the lead within 12 minutes when Robert Briggs’ shot came back off the post, and Martyn Coleman blazed the rebound over.
Coleman, Briggs and Daryll Hall went close with further efforts before the break, while, at the other end, the Mariners were solid as they restricted their hosts.
The breakthrough came on 63 minutes when Briggs’ superb corner from the right was sent flying into the bottom corner by Turner.
Coleman could have sealed it two minutes later when he was sent through on goal, but home goalkeeper Kyle Donaldson did brilliantly to save with his foot.
Ian Redman almost scored an own goal late on, while Shields constantly harried their opponents to prevent home opportunities for an equaliser.
Ben Riding and Coleman went close in the latter stages, and the final whistle then confirmed Shields’ promotion.
It was perhaps fitting that the game was played in the shadows of Peterlee’s Eden Lane, where the Mariners played their home games for two years prior to this season.
They can now look forward to better times ahead, and could move a step closer to clinching the title tomorrow when they travel to Tow Law Town.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Turner, Hall, Carson, Riding, Brown, Scroggins (c), Ramsey (Foley 86), Coleman, Briggs. Subs not used: Richardson, Hassan, Hughes, Byrne.
Goal: Turner (63).