Briggs' brilliance keeps South Shields on right track for promotion
South Shields had to dig extremely deep to claim a vital three points in their bid for promotion last night.
The Mariners had to come from a goal behind to claw their way to a 2-1 win at Seaham Red Star.
In the end, a moment of supreme quality won the day as a tremendous free-kick from Robert Briggs found the top corner to seal the victory.
The Mariners are now two points behind Northern League Division One leaders North Shields, who face Dunston UTS this afternoon.
Shields suffered a nightmare start last night at Seaham Town Park as they were caught in possession at the back, and Craig Lynch punished them to score within the first 40 seconds.
The Mariners struggled to lift themselves in the period that followed, but did miss some decent chances, with Dillon Morse and Michael Richardson both hitting efforts over the bar.
Carl Finnigan also headed a good opportunity over from a Julio Arca free-kick as Shields tried to turn the screw.
They went agonisingly close to drawing level on the stroke of half-time as Richardson drove through the centre before curling a terrific effort off the crossbar, while Briggs sent the rebound wide.
The Mariners introduced livewire Adam Wrightson at the break, and he made an immediate impact, flashing a shot not far wide within four minutes of coming on.
He had two more opportunities before the equaliser arrived on the hour mark.
It came as Arca picked up the ball 30 yards out on the right and clipped a sublime ball into the box which went into the net via a touch from Finnigan and a defender.
Seaham responded well to that, and Robbie Bird struck the bar soon after, while Luke Proctor had a goal ruled out for offside.
Another great chance fell the way of Bird as he was this time found on the inside left of the box, but he put it wide.
Shields came through a testing period and were rewarded with 20 minutes left.
Briggs curled a sumptuous free-kick from outside the box on the left into the top corner, giving home goalkeeper Shaun Newbrook no chance as he netted his 12th goal of the season.
Morse made a superb block late on to keep out an effort from Lee Hetherington, and a final opportunity fell the way of Seaham striker Bird in stoppage time, who scooped his effort over the bar.
Shields were not at their best, but showed great resolve to dig in for maximum points and make it 14 wins from their last 15 games.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Shaw (Smith 66), Morse, Arca (c), Briggs, Stephenson (Wrightson 46), Finnigan (Phillips 87), Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Holden, Ramsey.
Goals: Finnigan (60), Briggs (70).