SOUTH Shields came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at Chester-le-Street in a pulsating game at Moor Park on Saturday.
The Mariners – who booked their place in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup semi-finals last Tuesday – conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes.
However, they battled back into it, and after getting one back before the break, three goals in the first 19 minutes of the second half turned the Northern League Division Two match on its head.
Shields started the game brightly, but fell behind when Michael Turner was adjudged to have fouled Michael Hepplewhite in the box, and the Chester-le-Street forward picked himself up to convert from the spot.
The Mariners were the architects of their own downfall on the quarter-hour mark as they conceded from their own corner.
The ball was played short to Chris Rue, but when his cross was cut out, Chester-le-Street countered.
Steven Telford’s ball was chased through the centre by Hepplewhite, and when his shot was parried by Niki Lawson, Ben Johnson swept in the rebound.
Shields got back into the game under somewhat controversial circumstances nine minutes before half-time.
Rue’s attempted cross from 35 yards out on the right deceived home goalkeeper Aiden Ames and bounced in off the far post, but the assistant referee flagged for offside against Shields striker Stephen Ramsey, who had followed the ball in in the centre.
However, after the referee consulted with his fellow official, he decided Ramsey had not been interfering with play, and the goal stood.
The Mariners put their opponents under serious pressure in the closing minutes of the first half, with James Talbot having a shot saved and Ramsey hitting the post.
After the break, though, they had no problems finding the net.
Within two minutes of the restart, Talbot had brought them level when he hammered in the rebound after Aron Burn’s header was pushed out by Ames.
Paul Kane gave Shields the lead in spectacular fashion when the ball was touched to him just outside the box on the right, with the striker curling it first time into the opposite top corner, giving Ames no chance.
Another fine goal effectively put the game to bed on 64 minutes, with Kane attacking his man on the right before firing a menacing ball into the box, and Ramsey got ahead of his marker to nod the ball into the bottom corner.
The Mariners had numerous chances to make it more comfortable, with Ben Riding forcing three saves from Ames before Barrie Smith had a penalty saved by the goalkeeper, while Lawson made a superb stop at the other end from Johnson.