South Shields' 'history makers' may well be OUT – but they've put down FA Cup marker
Spirit, fight, attitude and application.
Beaten, knocked out – but far from humbled.
South Shields may well be out of the FA Cup, but they’ve laid down a marker.
Graham Fenton and Lee Picton’s men went toe-to-toe with a League Two side – one chasing promotion via the play-offs this season – and matched them. And but for a missed opportunity here and a stroke of luck there, the Mariners could well have been in the hat for round two.
The Mariners went behind early doors when the gaps opened up down the Shields left. Alex Kempster was drawn from his left-back role with an over-enthusiastic chase for the ball and a switch pass by the home side set Matty Blair away into the gap – his cross was perfect for striker Alfie May to tap home his first of the afternoon.
Undeterred, Shields roared back with a flowing move of their own as Blair Adams found man of the match Robert Briggs in space between the lines and a deft curl around the back of the full-back invited a finish. And where Jason Gilchrist could not reach, fellow frontman Darius Osei made no mistake, bravely sliding in for 1-1. It was his last action as in scoring he collided with the post.
As the half wore on, the visitors did not want the it to end – and but for two poor finishes they’d have walked in at the break ahead.
The first one fell to sub Will McCamley as he was slid in again by a sumptuous defence-splitter by Briggs, but the Huddersfield Town loan man could only tuck wide past the advancing Josh Griffiths. The second one, a little tougher, saw Callum Ross arrive late and find himself an inch or two too short to guide into the netting, rather than to the side of it.
After the break, the home side went up the gears and walked to a two-goal lead. And sadly it felt very avoidable for Shields, who were in with a shout in this game throughout.
A catalogue of errors from the Shields backline – in which each one of the five got caught out, as well as Myles Boney, May was gifted a second.
With half an hour left it was three – and this time it was a strike from the edge of the area by Liam Sercombe which looked to have put the tie to bed.
It didn’t though. Shields again hit back. They couldn’t, however, claw back the deficit.
The high press and high intensity after the third put their hosts to shame and Dillon Morse came within an inch of pulling one back to make for a nervy final five, but his header was floated wide on the angle – and with that went Shields’s spirited cup run.
The history makers are OUT – no South Shields side had made this round of the competition since 1973 – but their legacy will live on. This is where the Mariners belong – and this is where their ambitions will sure enough take them, if no more cruel turns lie in wait.