RACA travelled to face South Shields hoping to finish the season on a high after a recent slump in form, but like at Ryhope a fortnight ago, they found themselves a goal down after barely a minute.The Mariners were awarded a throw in from which Ben Riding hurled the ball into the Albion box & over keeper Conor Gillespie to where Chris FEASEY was standing & he had the simple task of popping the ball home from close range. Albion were severely under the cosh in the early stages& were soon 2-0 down following the award of a free kick to South Shields.Michael Turnerswung the kick into Ryton’s box& found RIDING in space & he nodded the ball over Gillespie to double the advantage with only 9 minutes gone.
The visiting fans were fearing a rout & only a good save from Gillespie on 16 minutes prevented a third goal for the Mariners. On this occasion, Paul Kane’s cross found Stephen Ramsey whose header looked goalbound until Gillespie’s save.
Then finally RACA began to get a foothold in the game & created their first chance at the end of a good move involving Mario Kastrati, Mark McMeekin & Will Forsyth who ended the sequence of play with a decent enough shot, though it was never going to trouble home keeper Steven Hubery.
Forsyth was busy again on 22 minutes when receiving the ball from Callum Turnbull, he then beat his marker only to shoot wide from the edge of the box. Josh Holland’s effort on the Shields goal on the half hour mark was also wide of the mark.
There then followed near misses at both ends, firstly Ramsey wasn’t far off target from the edge of the Albion box before Forsyth went close again after striking a Phil Hodges knock down narrowly wide. The visitors were enjoying their best spell of the game to date & caused alarm in their hosts’ box when Forsyth’s free kick was hooked over his own bar by Riding who was less than a foot from scoring an own goal.
Riding had the ball in the correct net on 42 minutes but he was flagged for offside, though the Mariners were clearly finishing the half on the ascendancy. Chris Rue fired in a cross that Gillespie fumbled but thankfully for the visitors, no-one in claret & blue could get on the end of the loose ball.
Then came the incident in first half stoppage time which finished Albion hopes of a comeback. Shields’ Barrie Smith sped past McMeekin towards the goal & was clipped by the Ryton defender who was the last man. Smith kept his footing & was on a one against one with Gillespie when referee Mr Jackson surprised most of the spectators by blowing for a free kick, then sending off McMeekin for a professional foul. The free kick came to naught but Albion now faced a real uphill battle, 2-0 down & a man light too. Ironically McMeekin who had been struggling with a groin problem, was due to be replaced at the interval, but that option had now gone.
HT SOUTH SHIELDS 2 RACA 0
All the promise of a comeback evaporated as Albion were being pinned inside their own area in the second half. On 48 minutes, Feasey launched a dangerous cross which Kastrati did well to head out for a corner with Shields’ Paul Kane bearing down on him. The pressure was soon on again & Gillespie saved well from a Lee Maitland shot, but he was soon picking the ball out of the net again when the Mariners made it 3-0 on 53 minutes. SMITH picked up the loose ball from a forced headed clearance by Gillespie, then managed to run past the Albion rearguard before rifling the ball into the bottom corner to seal the win.
South Shields were looking rampant now & Kane almost made it 4-0 on 56 minutes when his shot was parried by Gillespie, forcing Turnbull to knock the ball out for a corner. A minute later & there was more panic in the Ryton box when another Riding throw was mis-kicked by Leigh Shickle, & Ramsey headed the loose ball off the bar before Turnbull cleared again.
The Albion defence was eventually breached again in the 65th minute when Rue’s cross was met by KANE who headed powerfully giving Gillespie no chance. Kane was coming into his own now & on 70 minutes he brought out another block from Gillespie, the rebound falling kindly to him, but this time his shot was blocked by a covering defender.
He then had the ball in the net in the 79th minute, but it was ruled offside, then headed narrowly wide following another good cross from Rue just a minute later.
In the 84th minute another Kane shot was blocked, the ball deflecting into the path of Chris Locke who nodded the spinning ball wide. Albion were on damage limitation duties now, & were struggling to mount any kind of counter attack. Rue brought out another fine save from Gillespie in the 88th minute & an eyecatching run from Feasey resulted in a good cross to recently introduced sub James Talbot, but he made a right mess of his shot from close range & Albion were able to avoid sustaining any further damage
FT SOUTH SHIELDS 4 RACA 0
A real disappointment for Albion today with a jaded looking performance save for a decent spell in the latter stages of the first half. This marked the first time they had lost three games in a row this season & also saw the first dismissal of the current campaign.
Conversely the Mariners are finishing the season on a high & have now won three in a row, & fully deserved the three points today.
SOUTH SHIELDS– Hubery, Turner, Feasey, Burn, Riding, Locke, Rue, Maitland, Ramsey (Talbot 65), Smith (Crutwell 61), Kane. Subs Not Used- Kempster, Baker, Renshaw.
ALBION – Gillespie, Kastrati (Upperton 70), Shickle, P Robinson, Turnbull, McMeekin, Holland, Backhouse, Moore (Chrostowski 76), Forsyth (Emmerson 62), Hodges. Subs Not Used- Stoddart, Gunn.
REFEREE- Daniel Jackson
ATTENDANCE – 64