SOUTH Shields went down 2-1 to Ryhope at Eden Lane on Saturday, with the visitors claiming victory in the closing minutes of the game.
Ryhope started the brighter of the sides, and went close with shots from Richard Hodgson and Jack Pounder.
Shields responded, though, and had two chances of their own before Craig Roberts outpaced the Ryhope defence and played in David Molloy, but the striker skied his shot.
Roberts was proving to be a threat on the right flank, and on 20 minutes he again raced away, but as he looked to get a shot away, a last ditch challenge by James Cook denied him.
Soon after, Molloy had a strong penalty appeal turned down, while Gareth Young denied Paul Kane at the second attempt and also saved from Steven Graham.
The hosts had a period of dominance, but four minutes into stoppage time, a Ryhope free-kick was driven towards the right of the goal, and a wicked deflection wrong footed Niki Lawson to put the visitors a goal up.
At the start of the second half, Pounder was denied by a superb saving challenge by Barrie Smith, while he was also thwarted by a diving save from Lawson.
With the second half 12 minutes old, Chris Feasey outpaced the defence on the right before finding Stephen Ramsey inside the box, and the Shields striker made no mistake from six yards to draw the sides level.
From the restart, Ryhope broke forward, and Lawson had to be alert to deny Hodgson, before Pounder later sent a shot just over.
They continued to press forward, and Nathan O’Neill spurned a great opportunity as he fired his shot straight into the arms of Lawson.
With the game finely balanced, Shields again began to dominate, but both James Talbot and Molloy saw shots fly over the bar, while at the other end Hodgson was denied by a fingertip save by Lawson.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, Graham’s 25-yard drive struck the angle of the goal before, and with two minutes remaining, Ryhope restored their advantage with what proved to be the winning goal.
O’Neill dispossessed Chris Locke before playing the ball to second-half substitute Matthew Weirs, and he fired in from close range.
It could have been worse for Shields, as deep into added time a superb save by Lawson denied Carl O’Sullivan.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lawson, Roberts, Feasey (Ward 72), Locke, Smith, Graham, Talbot, Hall (Kempster 60), Ramsey (Reeves 60), Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Hubery, Stephenson.
Goal: Ramsey (57).