A 30th successive win for South Shields was probably their least convincing of that run – but promotion is now in their grasp, along with the Northern League title.
Gavin Cogdon’s first-half strike edged his side to a 1-0 win over Consett that was barely deserved.
But after five games in 11 days, and with a mammoth clash at North Shields looming at the weekend, picking up all three points was all that mattered.
Shields lacked fluency, spark and energy. Many of the players looked like they were running on empty but in the shape of on-loan goalkeeper Pete Jameson they had another hero.
While the likes of Julio Arca, Cogdon, Michael Richardson and Andrew Stephenson have grabbed the headlines in recent weeks, the Mariners’ defence has been quietly going about its job.
Jameson was brought in last month to give No 1 Liam Connell a chance to rest a niggle ahead of the three upcoming cup finals and he’s certainly shown his worth in the past week with vital saves against Sunderland RCA and again last night.
His 93rd-minute fingertip stop to deny Dan Hawkins was sensational. With Consett pushing for an equaliser, a long free-kick was pumped into the Shields box where Hawkins flicked it on. The ball looked destined to loop over the goalkeeper but he somehow diverted it over the bar to win the game for his side.
Cogdon had earlier given Shields a 21st-minute lead, diverting the ball home after Julio Arca picked out Rob Briggs at the far post and his header back across goal was met by the in-form striker.
Cogdon had seen his appeals for a penalty waved away inside four minutes after he raced clear from a delightful Arca pass with the outside of his left foot, and at that stage the Mariners looked to be in complete control.
But after the goal, they allowed Consett back into the game with a mixture of sloppy passing and the visitors sensing there was an opportunity to cause an upset.
Jameson made a brilliant save with his right foot to deny Luke Sullivan a 31st-minute equaliser while the introduction of Jordan Nellis after the break caused the Shields defence a real headache.
The powerful frontman drew another fine stop by Jameson, while Dillon Morse made a brilliant block when Nellis got free again as Consett pushed late on.
Ultimately though, the Mariners held on and cut the gap on leaders North Shields to three points with two games in hand to set up Saturday’s mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash.
Shields: Jameson, Baxter (Nicholson 38), Callaghan (Blinco 64), Morse, Lough, Arca, Smith (Storey 86), Phillips, Briggs, Shaw, Cogdon. Not used: Connell, Holden.