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Shields remain top with exciting Under-19 Alliance win

The young Mariners retained their lead at the top of the National League Under-19 Alliance Division I with an exciting 3-2 victory over Newcastle Benfield at Washington Hub.

It was a blisteringly cold day in Washington, with the weather reflecting the opening 25 minutes, with few chances for both sides.

Shields' main early opportunity came from Alex Thompson 10 minutes in, as he was played the ball on the edge of the penalty area but couldn't keep his effort down.

A moment of some excitement came five minutes before half-time when Leon Bell drove down the right flank and lofted a ball deep over the goalkeeper's head which rattled the crossbar before going behind for a goal kick.

There was a much quicker start to the second period, and on 47 minutes the visitors took the lead. A corner swung in from the left went uncleared and Joe Alderson hammered the loose ball into the net from inside the 18 yard box.

This woke Shields up, and they responded quickly when just six minutes after going behind, they were level. Sam Watts was played into a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and slotted it past him with ease to net the equaliser.

There should have been a second just minutes later when James Thew wriggled through the Benfield defensive line and fired an effort which the goalkeeper kept out with a superb full stretch save, low to his right.

With half an hour to play, Benfield piled on the pressure. Kyle Seymour kept the young Mariners in the game, making a brilliant one-on-one save to keep it level.

Shields took the lead on 70 minutes as Bell flew down the left wing and found Watts inside the six-yard box, who put it away easily for his second of the game.

Just four minutes later, the young Mariners had a two-goal lead. Substitute George McArthur was sent through on goal by Thew and brilliantly rounded the keeper before slotting it into the empty net.

Five minutes before time, the visitors made it slightly less relaxed for Shields as they stole the ball on the edge of the box and played in Jay Barber, who neatly finished past Seymour for his 11th goal of the season.

Shields held out for the last five, and secured the three points to remain top of the league.

The young Mariners are next in National League Under-19 Alliance action on Wednesday as they welcome Hemsworth Miners Welfare Under-19s to Washington Hub.

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