Sunderland RCA put on a magnificent display last night, but still could not end Ebac Northern League Division One title chasers South Shields’ winning run.
In front of a big Meadow Park crowd, the Mariners came from behind to make it 28 wins in a row in all competitions.
RCA’s bright start was rewarded in just the eighth minute when John Butler’s cross from the left was headed in by Ross Preston at the back post.
The Mariners struggled to create any opportunities of note in the first half, and their chances looked to have been given a body blow two minutes before the break when Alex Nicholson was sent off for an off the ball incident.
But ex-Sunderland and Middlesbrough star Julio Arca was introduced at half-time, and helped spark Shields’ comeback. On 57 minutes, Shields looked sure to be awarded a penalty when Gavin Cogdon was fouled seemingly two yards inside the area by sub goalkeeper Neal Bussey, but the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.
That mattered not, as Arca curled in a majestic effort from the set piece to level.
Sub Michael Richardson went agonisingly close to making it 2-1 when he saw his effort hit both posts before bouncing to safety.
Less than a minute later, though, Shields won it when Wayne Phillips’ corner was dropped by Bussey, and Cogdon was on hand to turn the ball home.
Visiting keeper Pete Jameson made a good save from Preston before Shields lost Stephen Ramsey to a suspected broken leg and had to see out 10 minutes of stoppage time with just nine men.
Jameson made two superb saves to deny RCA a leveller, then Stephen Callen volleyed over at the death.
Shildon beat Penrith 5-1 to regain third place.
Amar Purewal fired an excellent hat-trick, backed by Michael Rae’s volley and a Lewis Wing strike.