Mackenzie Heaney scored a stunning stoppage time winner as South Shields beat Guiseley 2-1 in dramatic fashion to move to the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League table on Tuesday.
A hard-fought game was heading for a draw after Lewis Alessandra’s first half goal was cancelled out by Luke Dean on the stroke of half-time.
The Mariners had numerous opportunities in both halves to claim maximum points but had to wait until the 91st minute for the decisive moment, with Heaney’s pinpoint strike from distance proving the difference.
It sparked scenes of great joy at 1st Cloud Arena as Shields’ unbeaten start to the season continued and they climbed two positions to take top spot.
It was a difficult night for Shields against a Guiseley side who were yet to taste defeat away from home.
After a slow start from both teams, Shields had the first chance. Alessandra was found by Robert Briggs in a great position, and his left-footed strike cannoned off the crossbar.
Guiseley countered and could have scored themselves as a John Johnston cross found Jake Cassidy, but his volley flashed wide.
Nathaniel Crofts also had an opportunity to put the visitors ahead moments later. His loose touch, following a whipped pass by Johnston, almost wrong-footed Myles Boney, but the goalkeeper did well to recover and push the ball behind.
Johnston was making things happen for Guiseley, and the winger blazed another effort over before Shields countered and created arguably the best chance of the game to that point as Heaney raced through on goal, but Kyle Trenerry made an excellent save after closing the angle.
Shields grew into the game as the half went on, and had another great opening on the half-hour mark. Alessandra’s snapshot inside the box was well-blocked before Dylan Mottley-Henry’s strike ended up in Trenerry’s arms.
Alessandra was at the heart of all things good for Shields, and he gave the Mariners the lead 10 minutes before the break. Mottley-Henry beat Trenerry in a race to the ball and showed great composure to play it square from a tight angle, and Alessandra did the rest to register his first goal as a Mariner.
Moments later, Alessandra could have had a second. A fantastic through ball by Heaney found the forward, but his low strike was well held by Trenerry.
Down the other end, James Cadman came inches away from levelling the scores. A teasing cross by Cassidy fell to the winger, and his venomous volley skimmed the post.
On the cusp of half-time, Guiseley equalised. Shields failed to clear a corner, and Dean fired past numerous bodies into the back of the net, via a deflection.
The Lions had a golden opportunity to take the lead just after the break. Cassidy twisted and turned inside the box, but Boney somehow denied the forward with an excellent save with his trailing leg.
A Heaney cross-come-shot almost found the bottom corner as the Mariners regained control, but Trenerry made a fine save to deny the winger and parry away from danger.
Minutes later, Alessandra’s curling effort from inside the area was a whisker wide of finding the net.
Shields just could not find the vital third goal, though, and their frustration grew when Michael Woods slipped Mottley-Henry in on goal and Trenerry again raced out of his goal to make a fine save.
As the match ticked into stoppage time, though, the breakthrough came as a quick throw-in by Conor Newton found Heaney on the edge of the box and he tried his luck with a first-time strike. It kissed the inside of the post and found the bottom corner to spark pandemonium and fire Shields back into a lead they would not relinquish.
The Mariners are back in action on Saturday when they travel to FC United of Manchester in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
South Shields: Boney, Newton, Liddle (c), Morse, Doherty, Smith, Woods, Briggs (Hodgson 81), Heaney, Mottley-Henry, Alessandra. Subs not used: Dobson, Bodenham, McGowan, McGeorge.
Goals: Alessandra (33), Heaney (90+1).
Image: Kev Wilson.