South Shields stay top after dramatic late winner at Buxton
Lee Mason struck a dramatic winner three minutes from time as South Shields came from behind to beat Buxton 2-1 on Saturday.
The Mariners made it five league victories in a row to maintain their place at the top of the table with a solid performance at Silverlands.
After enjoying much the better of the first half, Shields fell behind seven minutes before half-time when Liam Hardy finished well for the hosts from inside the box.
Jon Shaw levelled two minutes into first half stoppage time and the Mariners had to wait until the 87th minute to find their winner, with substitute Mason prodding home at the back post as he got on the end of a superb ball from Blair Adams.
Shields fielded a side with one change from the team which beat Gainsborough Trinity four days earlier, with Phil Turnbull introduced to the starting line-up in place of Robert Briggs, who was at a wedding.
They signalled their intent from the first minute as they attacked with purpose, with Jordan Hunter scampering down the right and sending in a dangerous cross which was cleared for a corner, from which Gary Brown headed wide.
Jordan Annear had a decent chance to hand the visitors the lead when he pounced on a poor clearance from Buxton goalkeeper Grant Shenton, but his effort from 30 yards drifted wide.
The Mariners enjoyed much of the first half possession and forced Shenton to make his first save on 23 minutes as he pushed a Josh Gillies free-kick to safety.
A well-worked move on the half-hour mark almost resulted in the opener for Shields. Hunter and Gillies combined effectively on the right before the latter clipped in a superb cross which was met first time by Adam Thurston, but his goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by the body of home skipper Brad Roscoe.
Craig Baxter was also on target with a shot from 20 yards soon after, but his deflected strike was well held by Shenton.
The Bucks took the lead against the run of play seven minutes before half-time.
Roscoe sent in a delivery from the right which was chested by Hardy to strike partner Diego De Girolamo, whose half volley was parried by Shields goalkeeper Myles Boney. The ball went into the path of the onrushing Hardy and he slammed it into the bottom corner to the delight of the home support.
The Mariners were not rocked by that blow and levelled things up two minutes into stoppage time.
More good work on the right led to a cross from Hunter which was met at the back post by Baxter and he sent the ball back across the box to Shaw, who hooked it past Shenton from eight yards.
Shields will have been encouraged by their first half performance, but they were unable to match those levels for much of the second half as Buxton provided more of a goal threat.
Aaron Chalmers flashed an effort wide from distance within moments of the restart and Boney later had to save strikes from De Girolamo and Hardy as the hosts looked to retake the lead.
The closest they came was just before the hour mark when Hardy beat his man in the penalty area and looked destined to score, but Boney spread himself well and saved with his thigh.
It was Buxton's best spell of the game but Shields got through it and began to exert some pressure of their own as the second half progressed.
With 20 minutes remaining, substitute David Foley delivered a dangerous cross from the left which Shenton punched as far as Nathan Lowe, and his drilled effort was saved by the legs of the goalkeeper.
The resulting corner saw Shields go close again as Lowe's ball in was almost converted by Brown from close range.
Adams had an increasing influence on proceedings late in the second half and he fired the hosts a warning when he got in down the left and drilled a low cross which went just past Mason in the middle.
A similar opportunity arose in the 87th minute and this time, the Mariners found the crucial breakthrough.
Phil Turnbull released Adams on the left of the area and he fired a superb ball across which was smashed home by Mason at the back post as he got in front of his defender.
Foley could have wrapped things up in stoppage time as he got in behind on the right, but Shenton denied him with his feet.
The hosts were unable to trouble Boney in their search for an equaliser and Shields saw the game out well for another important three points.
They will aim for a sixth league win in a row when they travel to FC United of Manchester on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Shields' Under-18s are in FA Youth Cup action against their North Shields counterparts at Mariners Park on Monday.
Kick-off is at 7.30pm and admission prices are £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Thurston (Lowe 52), Baxter, Annear (Foley 58), Gillies, Shaw (c) (Mason 65). Subs not used: Wokoma, Charlton.
Goals: Shaw (45+2), Mason (87).