Shields elected to play with the wind but found opportunities hard to come by thanks to a workmanlike performance by the Blues. This despite a sixth minute goal for Buxton, saw Trinity battle on and frustrate the princely, prancing, passing game of the visitors. But this Trinity side can play a bit. Following a four man passing move involving gambolling lamb Ben Hughes, goal machine Worsfold, pulse racing Russell and sublime Byrne, the latter played a one-two with gregarous (if not flash) Gordon; then mesmerised two before his cross-come-wind assisted shot went straight into the gloves of Connell.
Green had to be out quickly to deny Mason who had been played in by Andrews. It was end to end, even if actual end product was rarer than rocking horse droppings. On-loan Owl Hughes twisted and turned to better three but his shot was high and wide thanks to storm Hannah. A heart stopping moment at the other end as Gillie's classy crossfield ball found Briggs and his drive hit the outter frame of the goal. Trinity moved Hughes central with Hannah out wide in an attempt to unlock the well drilled visitors defence. Byrne picked Turnbull's pocket but his scuffed 20 yard drive went wide. Clarke earned a yellow for a somewhat forceful challenge on Cogdon as the passionate affair continued. A half cleared Byrne free-kick saw Stainfield fire an acrobatic shot on the turn onto the roof of the net. Cogdon mugged Clarke on the touchline to feed Briggs but his twenty-five yard drive ballooned over the bar.
A late altercation between Hannah and Baxter could have seen the visitors reduced to ten men before the break but the raised hand incident would have been a little harsh. Thus the half-time thoughts of both sets of fans turned to results elsewhere. Dixon had levelled for Warrington only for Hardy to give Buxton a 2-1 half-time lead, while Farsley had taken a 41st minute lead through Hayhurst to all but relegate Marine.
A sublime ball by Baxter found Gillies who squared for Cogdon but he fluffed his lines from twelve yards. Another slick four man combination saw Cogdon race through and appear to catch Green as he saved at his feet. This incensed the Holy blues leading to a yellow card and a substitution that would change the course of the game and put the play-offs beyond us. Thus it was that on the hour talismanic Finnigan was introduced for only his second appearance since an ankle injury sustained at the beginning of the year. Following an opportunity that saw Simmons fire into the side netting, Daly drove through the middle to feed Baxter on the overlap. He cut the ball inside to Finnigan who slid home at the near post to send the visiting fans into raptures.
Trinity kept pushing with a noteworthy 25 yard drive from Austin. Going gung-ho with a 3-4-3 leaving gaps at the back. The Blues therefore lived dangerously against quality opponents. Finnigan found himself free again 12 yards out but blazed wide after a cutting one touch counter. On 78 Warrington drew level at Buxton through Roberts and Benjamin almost forced a winner adding to the impetus and spirit of King's rejuvenated side. Byrne brilliantly won the ball back and sent a 25-yard peach of a ball to Ben Hughes who chested down and beat three before hammering goalwards only for a well positioned Connell to get both hands to it. Back came South Shields with Daly skinning Simmons and squaring to Lowe who blazed over the roof of the stand. Alas it was not to be for the Blues this year but with King and Hannah eager to continue the good work and a strong squad spirit, the omens bode well for a change of luck next year.
Teams & Schemes
Gainsborough Trinity: Green, Austin, Gordon, Russell, Maguire, Stainfield (C), Byrne, Clarke (C), Worsfold, Hannah, B Hughes. Bench activity: L Hughes (63 on for Gordon), Evans, Simmons (60 on for Hannah), Middleton (75 on for Clarke), Davie.
South Shields: Connell, Baxter, Andrews, Shaw (C), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs, Cogdon, Mason, Gillies. Bench: Lough, Mouanda, Lowe, Finnigan, Bell.
Gainsborough Trinity 0 South Shields 1 (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: 62 Finnigan
Ref: Mr Eley
Assistants: Mr Mallows & Mr Torrance
Report written by Neil Gentleman-Hobbs