South Shields 3-2 Nantwich Town: Mariners close in on Northern Premier League title
South Shields moved to within two points off securing promotion to the National League North after surviving a late scare from Nantwich Town.
Robert Briggs gave Shields the lead midway through the first half, before Dylan Mottley-Henry and Lewis Alessandra made it 3-0 with 20 minutes left.
Byron Harrison scored two late penalties to set up a nervy finish, but the runaway leaders hung on to secure their 23rd league victory of the season.
With Bamber Bridge losing elsewhere on the day, the Mariners know that a victory on Monday against Whitby Town will mathematically secure the league title.
Shields manager Kevin Phillips was delighted with his team’s resolve to see off their relegation-threatened opponents, after a run of one win in six games.
He said: “We’ve had a long week after the loss last Saturday that everyone was disappointed with, but the lads were up for it today.”
“We’ve won the game and we’re one step away from promotion now.”
The Mariners started the game positively and almost took an early lead as Alessandra’s pull back was met by Briggs, who put his effort wide from six yards out.
Alessandra constantly threatened the Dabbers’ defence and should’ve gave Shields the lead as he put his one-on-one effort straight at Tom Booth.
The Mariners’ pressure finally took its toll after half an hour, as Martin Smith’s cross was met by Briggs, who smashed his header past Booth for a much-deserved lead.
Nantwich were almost level just before half-time as Connor Evans rounded Myles Boney before his effort was cleared on the line by Gary Liddle.
Shields doubled their lead just after half-time as Mackenzie Heaney’s corner wasn’t cleared by Nantwich, and Mottley-Henry tapped home from close range.
Alessandra then turned home Jordan Hunter’s deflected cross to make it 3-0, before Harrison responded minutes later from the penalty spot after a foul on Troy Bourne.
Harrison scored his second spot of the day in stoppage-time after Sean Cooke was tripped just inside the box, but it was nothing more than a consolation.