South Shields paid the price for conceding three times in 13 first half minutes as they slipped to an opening day 3-2 defeat to Northallerton Town.
In front of a bumper crowd of 417 at Mariners Park – double the highest attendance in the whole of Northern League Division Two last season – hopes were high that the Mariners would kick off a new era with maximum points.
However, defensive errors cost them, with Northallerton’s first goal arriving on 19 minutes when a mix-up at the back led to the ball breaking for Kyle Swankie, who sent it first time into an empty net from 25 yards.
The second goal came two minutes later when Lewis Galpin played a high ball back to Gareth Young from the left, and the goalkeeper’s touch was too heavy. It broke for Andrew Ramsbottom, who swept it into the net.
Ramsbottom made it three when Colin Anderson played the ball back to him and he then beat two defenders on the inside-right of the box before rolling it into the bottom corner.
Shields got a glorious opportunity to get a goal back before half-time when captain Leepaul Scroggins was fouled in the area, but he picked himself up and sent the penalty low and wide of the left-hand post.
Two more superb chances came and went, with Aris Lokonga Guerin twice unable to bundle the ball home, but the hosts got back into it on 58 minutes when Wayne Phillips’ curled cross from the right was headed in by Lee Scott.
Shields pressed Northallerton back for much of the rest of the half, with Phillips particularly threatening when cutting inside from the right, and one of his efforts was tipped wide by goalkeeper Stephen Richardson.
David Foley made it 3-2 three minutes into stoppage time when he beat his man on the inside-left of the box, and his shot was too hot to handle for Richardson, who pushed it into the air before it bounced in.
Time was running out, and a final half-chance came when the ball was played over the top to Wayne Buchanan, who was just beaten to it as Northallerton held on.
Shields will hope to bounce back tomorrow when they host Billingham Town from 7.30pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young, Smith, Curry (Turner 62), Buchanan, Galpin, McMahon (Chapim 56), Foley, Scroggins (c), Guerin (Melvin 69), Scott, Phillips. Subs not used: Beal, Sakr.
Goals: Scott (58), Foley (90+3).