Match Report: City 1, South Shields 0

City made it eight games unbeaten in the North East, picking up a huge three points against table toppers South Shields, winning 1-0.
In the first half, it was the hosts who started the liveliest, with Ashton making a save after just four minutes when Briggs’s cross was headed towards Ashton. Adam Thurston dragged an effort wide of the mark a minute later.
The mariners came very close to opening the scoring after Jack Armer’s clearance was blocked and redirected towards his own goal. To his and City’s relief, it went wide of the net.
After the opening 10 minutes, City had no real chances that tested the South Shields keeper, despite playing some neat football at times. Sam and Charlie Bailey were the players getting involved the most on both wings.
Just after the 10-minute mark and City sprung into life, with two decent efforts at goal from Norris and Dawson both being blocked by South Shield defenders.
The dollies then had a corner and used a clever set piece setup that led to another shot being blocked, this time from Wilson.
Both sides were looking to get the ball into the opposition box with dangerous crosses, neither side could take their chances at this point.
Then came a moment of almost pure magic for the hosts. Ashton came far off his line to clear the ball, which ended up at the feet of South Shields’ left back, who from around 35 yards out dinked Ashton, but captain Steel was on the line to prevent the goal.
City responded on the 25-minute mark with a Rob Wilson effort that went wide of the left post. Both sides having chances, but the hosts with the better of them.
There were then calls for a City penalty when Norris attempted to chip the ball inside the box, but it was blocked by a Shields player and all the City players around the box screamed for a penalty, but the appeals were waved away.
South Shields started showing why they were at the top of the table, applying constant pressure to City whenever they had the ball. The dollies tried to keep the ball after a South Shields corner but lost the ball not soon after.
Eight minutes from half time and South Shields crafted another chance. Gilchrist made a number of twists and turns on the edge of the box, before firing to Ashton’s left, only for the City keeper to keep hold of it.
City found themselves in behind the South Shields defence through Dawson, he was brought down by mariners’ keeper in the box. Luckily for him, Dawson was flagged for offside.
South Shields then had a header go just over the bar after Thurston was involved again, and that was the last main chance of the first half that was largely controlled by the hosts. City would have been happy to go in at half time level. It was clear to see why Shields are top the table, very solid at the back. Both teams with chances, but the Mariners the ones who have come closest to scoring. 0-0.
The second half began, and City were much livelier from the off. Dawson almost found himself in on goal, but Briggs did brilliantly to keep with him and shepherd him away from goal.
City continued to apply more pressure on South Shields but couldn’t find a way past the back four. Most of City’s free kicks were dealt with well by South Shields.
Just before the half-hour mark Fensome went up for a header and took and elbow to his upper body, resulting in the defender going down for a minute. Luckily Fensome was okay to continue his good defensive work.
Not long after and Ashton was called into action again for City. He tipped the ball past his left post after South Shields worked their way into the box. Chances continued to come, but neither team could find the net.
Then, the deciding moment came for City. Blinkhorn won City a corner in the 65th minute. Sam Bailey whipped it towards the far post, the ball was headed back across goal and super David Norris couldn’t miss as he tapped it into the South Shields net. 1-0 City.
Just a couple of minutes later and City had a golden opportunity to double their lead. Norris was slipped in behind by Blinkhorn and tried to square it to an unmarked Rob Wilson who would surely have put the dollies two goals to the good. But Briggs came out of nowhere to prevent the pass from being made.
20 minutes to go and Ashton continued to produce heroics, saving a solid free kick on the edge of the box.
With 15 minutes left, Shields made a change, with Briggs coming off for Odelusi.
From this point on, City found themselves with their backs against the wall. South Shields were hunting for an equaliser, and City were in for a long quarter of an hour.
City’s backline continued to repel South Shields’ chances, with Fensome heading clear from a South Shields corner.
With five minutes to go and City in need of some fresh legs, Wills replaced Dawson who ran himself into the ground in the midfield. The hosts also made a change, Hunter coming off for Baxter.
Then came a moment which put City’s hearts in their mouths. A mix up on City’s left between Jack Armer and Charlie Bailey allowed the Mariners to get in behind, but Ashton once again came to the rescue.
Charlie Bailey came off for Matty Williams, with City hanging on for the three points. Blinkhorn then made way for Carsley. After what felt like an eternity the referee blew the final whistle.
A massive statement of intent from City, narrowing the gap between us and top spot to just two points.