Champions South Shields completed one of their most memorable seasons in living memory with an eighth consecutive win last night.
Stephen Ramsey’s late header was enough to earn the Mariners a hard-fought 1-0 Ebac Northern League Second Division victory at Northallerton Town.
The win saw Shields avenge one of their five league losses this season, with Northallerton having won 3-2 at Mariners Park on the opening day.
They went into last night’s game missing a number of players, including Julio Arca, David Foley and Ibby Hassan.
Northallerton had also been buoyed by a 2-0 victory over Ryhope CW on Monday, which saw them lift the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.
After Andrew Ramsbottom curled an early free-kick wide for the hosts, though, Shields looked the more likely team to score as they aimed to finish on 107 points.
Martyn Coleman saw a powerful header kept out by home goalkeeper Matthew Calvert, which was one of three good first-half saves to deny the striker.
Ramsbottom was the most dangerous player at the other end, but the hosts struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.
The Mariners thought they had taken the lead when Calvert could only push a Robert Briggs shot out to Leepaul Scroggins, who converted the rebound. However, the offside flag was raised as the sides went in level at half-time.
After the break, Calvert continued to thwart Coleman, while Daryll Hall sent a header over and Briggs curled a free-kick wide.
Just as it seemed Shields might have to settle for a season-ending draw, they struck what would prove to be the winner with 12 minutes left.
Ben Riding delivered a long throw from the left, and long-serving Ramsey flicked the ball into the air before it looped into the net.
Ramsbottom sent an effort wide at the other end under pressure from Danny Carson, but an equaliser always looked unlikely.
The Mariners almost added a second on 87 minutes when substitute Warren Byrne headed a Coleman cross against the crossbar.
However, the champions had already done enough to claim yet another victory and end the season in style.
They can now look forward to the summer ahead of returning to action in Division One next season.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Riding, Hall, Galpin (Byrne 62), Carson, Briggs, Scroggins (c) (Teasdale 46), Ramsey, Coleman, Turner. Sub not used: Richardson.
Goal: Ramsey (78).