FC United suffered their first defeat of the season at South Shields on Tuesday night as substitute Josh Gillies scored an 83rd minute winner in a closely fought game.
The Reds will be disappointed not to hold on for a point after acquitting themselves well against last season’s runaway league leaders but there were lots of positives to take from the performance.
Neil Reynolds’ men were hoping to continue the form that has seen them reach the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup and early on the signs were good as The Reds started well. Striker Michael Fowler charged down a clearance from home goalkeeper Myles Boney but no one was there to follow up and Jordan Simpson fired just wide from distance.
The contest was end-to-end but short on clear chances. However, former FC United striker Jason Gilchrist brought out a great save from Dan Lavercombe from a tight angle, Curtis Jones clearing the ball as it dropped towards the goal line. Fin Sinclair-Smith and debutant Tre Pemberton both drew fairly routine saves as the half drew to a close.
The Mariners started the second half in the ascendancy, Philip Turnbull shooting wide and the impressive Alex Kempster teeing himself up before volleying against the post. Gilchrist again brought about a save from Lavercombe before going clean through and shanking his shot horribly past the post.
The Reds, playing in white, were seeing the ball quite a bit but all too often the move broke down with a poor final ball. Robert Briggs produced another goal line clearance from Jones as the home side looked to pile on the pressure. The FC United back line were doing well to hold out. Briggs again had a chance but Lavercombe tipped the ball clear.
Pemberton thought he had marked his debut with a goal as his jinking run produced a shot that Boney tipped clear. Michael Donohue set himself on a mazy run with 14 minutes to go but his shot was weak and rolled to the keeper.
It looked like one goal either way would win the match and so it proved on 83 minutes when a shot from the right was pushed away only to drop to Gillies who side-footed home. FC United pushed forward for the equaliser in the last seven minutes but it was to no avail.
Fulltime: South Shields 1-0 FC United
Report by Steven Wood
Man of the Match: Chris Doyle. Marshalled the defence well all night and won most, if not all, of his aerial duels.