South Shields’ involvement in the Emirates FA Cup ended at the third qualifying round stage as Leek Town earned a 2-0 victory on Saturday.
In a tie streamed live on the BBC, the Mariners conceded early in both halves against a diligent Leek side which bridged a gap of two divisions.
Julio Arca’s team probed for a way back into the game but were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Matthew Corran.
Arca made two changes to the XI which defeated Peterborough Sports 4-2 the previous week, with Jordy Mongoy and CJ Clarke brought in for Tom Broadbent and Lirak Hasani.
They kept the ball well in the early stages and had the first sight of goal, with Paul Blackett dragging an effort wide from the edge of the area.
It was the hosts who struck, first, though, with captain Marc Grocott meeting a right-wing cross with a first-time effort which nestled in the bottom corner.
There was a chance for a quickfire double, but Dillon Morse blocked well from Robert Stevenson as Shields survived a scare.
Further opportunities fell to Daniel Trickett-Smith and Aaron Opoku, who were both off-target from decent range, as was Julius Ndene when he met a free-kick from the right.
The Mariners began to find a foothold as the second half progressed and almost carved out an opening through a defence-splitting pass from Clarke which found Michael Woods, who was just unable to get enough on it to seriously test Corran.
Woods went closer still five minutes before the break with a header which flicked off a defender and skidded narrowly past the upright.
A strong start to the second half was vital for Shields but they were unable to find it, and after Myles Boney saved from Opoku, they fell a further goal behind on 48 minutes.
Stevenson received the ball 25 yards from goal and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the top corner to leave the Mariners straining for a route back into the tie.
There were opportunities for them to do so, with Clarke doing much of the creating.
His clipped pass found Woods, who sent it wide on the volley, as did Martin with a header just after the hour mark.
Clarke also had a strike from range deflected over as time started to tick away from Shields.
They were agonisingly close to halving the deficit with 13 minutes left when John Lufudu picked out Martin with a delivery from the right and his towering header was somehow cleared off the line.
Martin, Lufudu and Clarke all had further efforts at goal but the Mariners were unable to beat Corran as Leek saw out their victory to seal a place in the final qualifying round.
Shields are back in action next Saturday when they host Hereford in Vanarama National League North.
South Shields: Boney, Lufudu, Adams (c), Liddle, Morse, Smith, Blackett, Woods (Hasani 72), Mongoy (James 58), Martin, Clarke. Subs not used: Dobson, Heaney, Briggs, Gomes, Abbey.
Image: Kev Wilson.