Hednesford Town recorded a fine victory in their first ever meeting with South Shields thanks to two first half goals from Dan Sweeney which saw the Pitmen get back to winning ways in the league.
Before the kick-off both sets of supporters gave a rousing send off to longtime Hednesford fan John Rafferty – with more than 70 friends and family having sponsored the game, which also saw an increased attendance due to Non-League Day.
Stand-in Hednesford goalkeeper Sheridon Martinez was quickly into action making a fine low save in just the second minute after Lee Mason had fired in a long range effort.
That would prove crucial as the Pitmen would go ahead in the fifth minute when a deep cross into the box picked out Reece King and his header back found Dan Sweeney who fired in a low effort that was deemed to have crossed the line despite the best efforts of a visiting defender.
In the 18th minute Lewis Archer swung in a dangerous cross that was just cut out just before it reached King who would have been left with a simple tap in at the far post. From the resulting corner Hednesford would double their lead though as Sam Griffiths helped the ball on and Dan Sweeney was on hand to find the back of the net from six yards out.
Seven minutes later a good chance fell the way of Shields David Foley after he worked himself half a yard, however his shot ended up out of the ground.
In the 33rd minute some good ball play saw Callum Coyle play the ball into Dan Cocklerine but under pressure the striker saw his effort blocked away by Liam Connell in the visiting goal.
The start of the second half would see Shields come out with a renewed vigour and Foley had a great chance four minutes into it but he dragged his low effort wide of the far post after the Pitmen had failed to clear their lines.
Martinez had to react quickly to claim a dangerous through ball in the 55th minute before both sides forced a succession of deadball set plays – the closest of which to causing issues would be Robert Briggs’ freekick that whistled just past the Pitmen post in the 65th minute.
Two minutes later the visitors would find the back of the net though when Mason excellently took the ball down on the edge of the box before firing in a low effort into the back of the net.
Shields now sensed they could draw level and although they had the ball in the back of the net in the 75th minute Ben Harmison’s effort was ruled out for offside.
It was the Pitmen who almost added to the score in the 86th minute as a deep cross in picked out Coyle and his low effort was saved by Connell.
Two minutes later Michael Howard was cynically taken out on the halfway line, leading to a bloodied nose and change of shirt, but the challenge was missed by all the officials.
Coyle would go close again as the game reached the 90th minute and although the Pitmen had to see out five minutes of stoppage time they would do so with relative ease to record a fine three points.
Hednesford Town: Martinez, Curley, Fox, Fitzpatrick, Galinski, Griffiths, King, Coyle, Cockerline (Mendez-Jones 83), Sweeney, Archer (Howard 75)
Subs not used: Edge, Hollis, Veiga
South Shields: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Turnbull (Wright 78), Morse, Brown, Mouanda, Briggs, Gillies (Harmison 58), Mason, Foley (Finnigan 50)
Subs not used: Hunter, Lough