South Shields increase lead at top with narrow victory

Warren Byrne celebrates his goal against Thornaby. Pic: Peter Talbot
Warren Byrne celebrates his goal against Thornaby. Pic: Peter Talbot

Warren Byrne’s first-half header was enough for South Shields as they took a step closer to promotion with a 1-0 win at Thornaby in Northern League Division Two.

The scoreline did not reflect the away team’s dominance, with the Mariners having had four goals ruled out for offside.

However, Byrne’s effort on 18 minutes did count as Shields moved five points clear of second-placed Billingham Synthonia, with three games in hand.

They set their stall out early, and had two goals disallowed for offside within nine minutes, with David Foley and Byrne both denied.

Home goalkeeper Michael Duff then did well to tip away an impressive Foley cross from the left before the Mariners took the lead.

After a rare Thornaby attack, Shields broke well, with Martyn Coleman motoring down the right wing. He delivered a superb cross to the back post, and Byrne made no mistake as he nodded it beyond the goalkeeper.

The away side dominated from there, but could not find a second goal.

The elusive second almost arrived just after the half-hour mark when Foley’s through ball found Teasdale, who was only denied by Duff after he had done brilliantly to narrow the angle.

At the other end, bright spark Daniel Lofts fired over, but it was the Mariners who were doing most of the pressing.

After the break, the Mariners did not have it all their own way, but always looked the more likely team to score.

Within two minutes of the restart, Scroggins hit a shot wide from the edge of the box, but at the other end, Josh Richardson did well to keep out an effort from Lofts which was destined for the top corner.

Byrne went close to a second as the ball cannoned off him before finding the arms of Duff, while John Grey had the ball in the net after a flowing move, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Byrne scored the fourth disallowed goal of the day, but Thornaby failed to threaten until the latter stages, apart from one chance for Theodore Furness which Richardson did well to smother.

Grey hit a free-kick narrowly over, but Thornaby were still in the game, and went close twice within a minute when Grey did well to clear a cross before the ball was recycled and hit just wide.

Towards the end, the home side had a penalty appeal waved away, while Foley fired over and was then denied a sensational goal when his volley - after Coleman had ran almost the full length of the pitch to provide him it - was superbly palmed over by Duff.

However, Jon King’s side held onto the one-goal lead as they extended their advantage at the top ahead of tomorrow’s game against Crook Town at Mariners Park.

King said: “I thought it was more comfortable than 1-0, and I thought at least one of the four disallowed goals should have stood.

“We played some really good football, and our ball retention was much better, although we were a little bit sloppy in the final third.

“Overall, it was a very good performance, and at the business end of the season, it’s just important to get the result.”

Shields’ title rivals Billingham Synthonia and Ryhope CW drew 2-2 as the gap at the top of the table was increased.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Richardson, Smith, Grey, Carson, Hassan, Briggs, Teasdale (Riding 83), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Ramsey 86), Coleman, Foley. Subs not used: Connor, Hall, Sakr.

Goal: Byrne (18).