South Shields Women’s unbeaten league start came to an end thanks to a late blow handed by top-of-the-table Barnsley FC Women.
An entertaining 90 minutes was rounded up with only a few minutes to spare in heartbreak when Victoria Chincharo got on the end of a mighty goalmouth scramble, which condemned Shields to a narrow 1-0 defeat away from home.
The longest trip of the season gave the lasses a few lessons to take home, however, and the league table is still unbalanced as things stand due to fixture pile-ups so it will be a while before we start to see the real picture emerge in the NERWFL Premier Division.
Head coach Matt Gatiss made two changes from the team which won against Alnwick Town Ladies last Sunday, as Sophie Greener started up top and Josie Foster slotted into the side. Erin Taylor was named on the bench while Monica Innes missed out.
The hosts almost had a dream start as Kirsty Nicholls was brought one-on-one with Shields keeper Scarlett Gowans, but it was the Mariner who won that battle early on - her outstanding work kept the lasses very much in the game as it was a sign of things to come.
Jaz Elliott-Wood’s early free-kick met number nine, Eve Gatens, who was unable to direct her effort into the bottom-hand corner past Ashleigh Risdsdel-Harrison.
Gatens’ corner a few minutes later caused a goalmouth scramble before Annece Legg’s resulting shot fired off the post as her rebound unluckily got away from danger.
Nic Shaw launched a sweeping through ball over the Shields backline but Gowans handled it before Jodie Gregory could hit.
Kim Brown and Nicholls combined nicely in the early stages as one effort was netted but overturned thanks to an offside in the build-up.
Shields were under the cosh for spells, but so were Barnsley and this theme was more prevalent in the second-half, when the match could have gone either way.
Elliott-Wood played a nice ball into Greener's path who twisted past two Barnsley defenders but her shot was too low to truly threaten Barnsley’s keeper.
Norton made a last-gasp tackle to prevent Nicholls getting a surefire opener while Gowans held firm when Gregory aimed for the far-post. This stalemate continued until near the end when the hosts took the lead.
Shaw aimed up and Norton flicked the ball high: it was anyone’s to win and Chincharo won the battle, as well as the match, for Barnsley to end Shields’ unbeaten start to the league season.
Next up for Shields is a home tie against Wakefield AFC Women and the lasses will be hoping to make the most of a spell of games which sees them play nine out of their final 12 matches at home.
Barnsley FC Women: Ridsdel-Harrison, Wilson-Roberts, Rigby, Evans, Chincharo, Brown, Gregory, Nicholls, Shaw, Turton-Burrell, Holland.
Substitutes: Cheetham, Kelly, Tieyah, Lunn, Marsh.
South Shields Women: Gowans, May, Archbold, Greener, Legg, Gatens, Wootten, McMahon, Norton, Elliott-Wood, White.
Substitutes: Ali, Emery, Taylor, Longstaff, Foster.