A frustrating afternoon for South Shields Women ended in heartbreak as they were knocked out of the County Cup in the second round against Gateshead Leam Rangers.
Zoe Norton’s bullet header was cancelled out by a Keeley Johnson thunderstrike, which kept the game level until the shoot-out.
The visitors scored all five of their penalties, while Jaz Elliott-Wood’s kick struck the crossbar.
All focus now turns to the league, where Shields have a big 14 games ahead of them in the ongoing promotion fight.
In hindsight the first half was quiet on both ends, in terms of the number of quality chances created.
Ellie White started brightly for the Mariners, cutting inside before skipper Becki McMahon launched an effort at the keeper.
It wasn’t long before she had a strike of her own, but it didn’t threaten Macey Quinn.
A looping through ball on Leam Rangers’ part found Chloe Murphy who was left one-on-one with Scarlett Gowans, but the Shields shot stopper prevailed.
That would be a common theme all afternoon, including one moment early in the second half in which she saved three one-on-ones.
The opener came when Jade Dryden’s corner met Norton in the box who pounced from close-range.
It would be fair to say the second half was stronger on Shields’ part as they continued to push for another, but Leam Rangers equalised courtesy of a world-class rocket by Johnson.
The lasses kept knocking at the door, but the visitors didn’t budge, and a largely frustrating game went to penalties.
There are a lot of lessons to take from the afternoon’s tie going forward but the season isn’t defined by one game, and the lasses will refocus before the next test against Hull United.
South Shields Women (starting XI): Gowans, Ali, Innes, May, Legg, Dryden, McMahon, Norton, Taylor, White, Foster. Substitutes: Archbold, Dixon, Elliott-Wood.
Gateshead Leam Rangers (starting XI): M Quinn, Maxwell, Gilrov, Mabon, Peart, Potts, L. Quinn, Richardson, Johnson, Murphy, Cuthbertson. Substitutes: A. Legg, H. Legg, Norman, Jeffares, King.