Both Shields sides have dominated the Northern League this year and occupy the top two spots.

South Shields came from behind with only ten men to claim at 2-1 victory at Sunderland RCA on Thursday night.

Ross Preston headed Sunderland RCA into a shock eighth minute lead and things became worse for Shields when Alex Nicholson was sent off with half-time approaching.

However, Shields came out for the second half in determined style and a much improved 45 minutes saw the Mariners snatch the points with goals from Julio Arca and Gavin Cogdon.

Looking to build on Saturday’s 2-0 win over Seaham Red Star, RCA manager Martin Swailes named an unchanged side against the FA Vase finalists.

Sunderland RCA started brightly and took the lead with the first real chance in the eighth minute. An original free-kick was headed out wide where John Butler picked up possession. The former Washington man whipped a pinpoint cross into the penalty area and Preston rose highest to head home and stun the majority-South Shields crowd.

After both Joss Carmichael and Carl Finnigan received treatment after a collision, the game settled down with Shields looking slightly shaken by RCA’s goal.

On the quarter of an hour mark, Carmichael punched clear a South Shields corner but his punch found Andrew Stephenson. The former Spennymoor Town man took a touch before firing harmlessly over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Shields worked the ball around to Nicholson but alike Stephenson’s effort, his shot was too high.

With the hosts looking dangerous on the break, a deep free-kick found Stephen Callen at the back post but he couldn’t find the target with a header.

The hosts were defending well and forcing Shields into long-range efforts; Louis Storey and Finnigan both firing over.

Ten minutes before the break, an inswinging RCA free-kick dropped to Michael Charlton at the back post but the winger couldn’t stab the ball towards goal.

South Shields’ evening looked to be going from bad to worse two minutes before half-time when Nicholson was sent off for a clear stamp on James Cassidy right in the view of the assistant referee.

A goal down and a man down, it looked a long way back for the Mariners.

An array of substitutions settled the first 10 minutes of the second half before Cogdon raced through and went down by substitute goalkeeper Neal Bussey. The South Tynesiders were shouting for a penalty but the referee deemed it to be a free-kick. Arca took responsibility and the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough man perfectly curled the ball around the wall and into the net to pull the visitors level.

Shields almost took the lead seven minutes later. Michael Richardson was played in and his poked effort clipped the post and rolled across the line where Bussey was revealed to pounce on the ball.

However, RCA couldn’t hold out any longer as Shields took the lead only a minute later. The hosts failed to clear a Phillips corner and it fell kindly to Cogdon who poked home to the delight of the majority of the crowd.

Sunderland RCA pushed forward with time ticking on and when an inviting cross dropped for goalscorer Preston, Shields ‘keeper Peter Jameson was forced into a decent save.

Now in the lead, Shields defended resolutely in the closing stages despite an onslaught from RCA.

Play was stopped when Stephen Ramsey went down with a nasty-looking injury and the loyal Shields forward was stretchered off five minutes later.

The hosts could have snatched a point in the 97th minute but two fine saves from Jameson prevented the Ryhope outfit.

Another chance was to follow though as a few clever flicks played Callen in but he could only volley over.

Despite a spirited effort, Sunderland RCA were ultimately unable to prevent South Shields from making it 28 wins in a row.


Full-time: Sunderland RCA 1-2 South Shields

Sunderland RCA: Carmichael (Bussey, 55′), Richardson (Noble, 66′), McGuinness, Preston, Swansbury (c), Armstrong, Charlton, Larkin, Butler (Davis, 66′), Callen, Cassidy

Unused subs: Graham, Wilson

South Shields: Jameson, Baxter, Lough, Storey, Morse, Shaw (c), Nicholson, Phillips, Cogdon (Ramsey, 76′), Stephenson (Richardson, 55′), Finnigan (Arca, 46’)

Unused subs: Holden, Petrache