Match Report: Boro unbeaten start curtailed by South Shields

By Martin Dowey (The Scarborough News)

Scarborough Athletic's unbeaten start to the Evo-Stik North season came to a crunching end on Bank Holiday Monday, with leaders South Shields grabbing the points and taking them north.

After a confident start to the fixture, Boro were left chasing shadows as Shields maintained their dominance of the division. Steve Kittrick's men weren't aided by being reduced to 10 men though, as young winger Max Wright was given a straight red by referee Darren Watling for smashing the ball into the crowd. That proved to be the turning point as Shields made their one-man advantage pay, gracefully knocking it around the Flamingo Land Stadium pitch and booking a 3-1 success.

It was Wright who had Boro's first opening as the hosts set off at 100mph.The winger found his way onto a Dave Merris cross, but he failed to direct it on target.Wright then had a low cross bundled just past the post, before Jimmy Beadle rose onto a ball in the box, his header didn't match his leap though and it sailed wide.As useful as Boro looked in attack, they looked edgy in defence and that was punished soon after. Matty Turnbull was beaten by winger Luke Sullivan and Matty Pattison poked home his cross from close range.

Boro continued to creak at the back and once again Shields made them pay.Darren Lough was picked out unmarked at the far post, he could only hit the bar with his header, but Sullivan gobbled up the rebound without hesitation.

Boro may have been shocked by this, but they shook off these blows and press forward themselves. Beadle's charge into the box was ended by Jon Shaw's ball-winning challenge, before Nathan Valentine continued his impressive goalscoring run to trim the arrears. Merris' cross was dummied by Michael Coulson and Valentine stole in between two markers to poke home at the far post.

Shields could have stretched their advantage after this, but for once they were wasteful.Gavin Cogden did force the ball into the net, but the timing of his run wasn't as good as his finish and the celebrations were cut back by a linesman's flag.Then Sullivan again crept in at the far post unmarked, but his header only shuddered the bar rather than nestling in the net.

The half-hour brought the game's flashpoint as Boro were reduced to 10 men.Wright, incensed by the decision of a linesman, hit the ball into the crowd in frustration. With the ball having struck a fan in the face, Mr Whatling made his ruling and brandished a straight red card.That took any bounce out of Boro's step and the first half closed with Shields playing ole football, buoyed by the extra body.

The half-time cup of tea seemed to revitalise Boro and they stepped up the pace when the new period began.Beadle had the best effort of this spell, but his volley from the edge of the box was blocked on its way to goal.Then, from nothing, Shields ended the game as a contest with their third and final goal.Turnbull was caught by the pace of Sullivan, who nipped in and finished well beyond the grasp of Tommy Taylor.

There began another lesson in passing from the north east outfit, who must have kept the ball for a good 10 minutes without Boro laying foot on it.During that period Robert Briggs ghosted beautifully through the home defence, but he lacked the composure to finish.

Having looked well and truly out of it, Boro finished the game with a late rally.Turnbull's long hopeful ball forward turned into a shot and keeper Liam Connell had to retreat to gather it on his line.Then sub Billy Logan looped a header over the Shields keeper, but he managed to extend his fingers to somehow tip it over the bar.Coulson had Boro's final chance, heading just over, but by then it was far too little to late for boss Kittrick's men.

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