Skipper Hughes strikes late to win cross-Tyne derby for North Shields
North Shields struck late to beat cross-Tyne by rivals South Shields on a record-breaking day at Mariners Park on Saturday.
An incredible crowd of 2,651 packed in to watch the derby – smashing the ground attendance record by more than 800.
However, it was the visiting supporters who were celebrating in the end as, against the run of play, captain Kevin Hughes fired in the only goal of the game with six minutes left to snatch the three points.
The result left the Robins eight points clear of the Mariners at the top of Northern League division one, although South Shields have two games in hand.
The huge crowd generated a superb atmosphere, but clear-cut chances were rare, despite the home side’s domination of the ball in wet and windy conditions.
The Mariners saw a number of efforts from distance kept out by visiting goalkeeper Kyle Hayes, before a glorious chance was presented to them midway through the first half.
A chip forward from Julio Arca was met by the chest of Andrew Stephenson, who was barged over by Curtis Coppen, and referee Helen Conley showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Arca, who had a perfect conversion rate with penalties in his time with South Shields to that point, sent the spot-kick low to the goalkeeper’s left, but man of the match Hayes pushed the effort round the post.
Arca almost made amends within three minutes as he twisted and turned outside the box before sending a low shot just wide.
Attacks from the Robins were rare, with the visitors content to let the Mariners have the bulk of possession in the hope of hitting them on the break.
And that almost happened as they drove down the left before a teasing, low delivery across the area seemed destined to be turned in by Jack Donnison at the back post, only for Anthony Callaghan to save the home side with a last-ditch interception.
Although the Mariners did have the majority of possession and looked much the more likely team to open the scoring, the Robins always looked solid and proved extremely difficult to break down.
The one time South Shields did break through the back line in the second half was in the 53rd minute, with Stephenson getting in behind on the left before pulling a ball across goal for David Foley.
He looked certain to score, but a terrific block from Marc Lancaster denied him, and when the ball broke towards Carl Finnigan, Hughes got there first to clear.
Chances were few and far between in the remainder of the half, and North Shields had not forced home goalkeeper Liam Connell into any meaningful save, but with six minutes to go, they took their only opportunity of the half.
A corner from the left was half-cleared and then lifted back into the box, where two shots were blocked before the ball broke the way of Hughes, who took a touch and then rifled into the bottom corner to spark huge celebrations from the visitors.
They saw the job through to end the Mariners’ 21-match unbeaten run.
The Robins entertain Chester-le-Street in the second round of the FA Vase on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
North Shields: Hayes, Donnison, Lancaster (Summerly), Forster, Coppen, Hughes, Carr, Ormston, Holmes, Mason (Bainbridge), McKeown (Morris). Subs not used: Parker, Wilson.