….and the cup’s off to Shildon

Shildon 1 South Shields 0 – Durham County FA Challenge Cup final

It took just one perfect cross by Shildon right back Marc Ellison and a thumping header by Billy Greulich-Smith to round the Railwaymen’s season off perfectly.

Their spirited display means that the Durham FA’s Challenge Cup once again goes to a team from the Ebac Northern League.  It was a win built on dogged determination, concentration and hard graft.

Unsurprisingly, South Shields played the neater, more technically adept football.  However, what was surprising was how few clear-cut chances they created.  Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook was tested a couple of times, but he’s had busier matches this season.

No doubt he would have been much busier had their opponents not had to focus on their play-off game against Warrington today, meaning that last night’s team was severely depleted compared to what they would have normally fielded.

The game was relatively even matched in the opening 10 minutes.  The first real shot of the game came from South Shields No.4 Arron Thompson but he sliced his effort wide right.  The South Tyneside team passed the ball around effectively enough without threatening the Shildon defence until the 26th minute when Max Coburn hit a free kick that was heading for the top right corner of the Shildon goal until Newbrook punched the ball away.

There was a glimmer of a chance for Shildon in the 30th minute when Greulich-Smith met a cross with a header but put it tamely wide.

Going the other way, just about every South Shields attack came down their left hand side, with left back Oliver Scott the one who pushed Shildon back more than anyone else.  With under 10 minutes of the first half left Joachim Ursene Mouanda had a half-cross, half-shot tipped over by Newbrook and Gary Brown put a header wide.  Cowburn then had a shot parried away by Newbrook.

Shildon then had their best period of play in the half with Ellison sending over three dangerous crosses within the space of two minutes, but his team-mates couldn’t quite get on the end of them.

The second half saw each side trading efforts – a shot by Thompson blocked by his opposite number Aaron Duell and then a David Palmer shot for Shildon headed out by Brown.  And then 11 minutes after the re-start the deadlock was broken by Ellison’s perfect cross and Greulich-Smith’s equally impressive header.

The goal gave Shildon some fresh impetus and they looked more confident going forward.  Meanwhile South Shields continued to knock the ball round the pitch but couldn’t find a way through or round the Shildon defence.

With 15 minutes to go, the Shildon players looked as though the rigours of the match were starting to catch up with them but they stuck to their task, working hard to close down South Shields attacks by getting plenty of men behind the ball.  Twice in the closing stages of the game, Shields fans thought they’d scored but one chance went into the side netting and the second swept across the goal line before being put out for a goal kick.  There were more than four nervous minutes of time added on before referee Andrew Miller blew for full time and the Shildon celebrations could begin.

Mike Snowdon