WITTON’S series of near-misses continues.

There is a paradox in that Albion were likely relieved to reach the interval only one goal adrift after being comprehensively outplayed and yet by the final whistle felt some frustration the score was unchanged.

Tom Owens fluffed their best chance, shooting skywards after spinning cleverly away from a defender.

It captured neatly his side’s fortunes against the Northern Premier League top-flight’s best teams over the past 10 days; close, and yet so far away.

They have work to do, but then they knew that.

And there is encouragement to take from a second half that concluded with two visiting players receiving cautions for time-wasting.

In contrast, the Mariners didn’t want the opening period to end.

They dominated from the start Josh Gillies and Lee Mason both prompted goalkeeper Greg Hall to work either side of visiting custodian Liam Connell tipping over Will Booth’s free-kick.

A frantic scramble ended with Hall smothering the ball after Gary Brown had glanced Nathan Lowe’s shot towards goal before Josh Wardle timed perfectly a block to thwart Mason after Carl Finnigan cushioned a header into his teammate’s path.

The latter was then wasteful when he directed a header straight into Hall’s arms after meeting Gillies’ set-piece from the right.

Witton could not resist the relentless pressure and there was no surprise when they fell behind on 32 minutes.

South Shields, unbeaten in 10 Northern Premier League matches before arriving at Wincham Park, deserved a touch of fortune from Lowe’s cross deflecting off a defender towards Mason who steered a neat finish where Hall had no chance of reaching it.

The visitors continued to play with a swagger, and they might have doubled their lead from the move of the match.

Captain Jon Shaw’s raking pass from left to right was met with glorious timing on the volley by Gillies, who was stationed on the side-line.

It was diverted again by Finnigan towards Craig Baxter before Hall stopped his shot.

Albion boss Carl Macauley changed formation during the interval and Finnigan succumbed to an ankle injury shortly after it – both of them factors in the home team’s improvement.

Billy Smart sliced wide of goal, and for the first time the visitors retreated.

Witton ought to have drawn level on 76 minutes when James Foley nodded the ball to Owens, who conjured space for a shot before firing wildly over.

Rob Hopley met Foley’s corner at the near-post with a header he couldn’t steer on target before he flashed a volley into the terrace behind the goal.

There was an opportunity too for Will Jones after substitute Jordan Cobley teed him up but Albion’s match-winner on New Year’s Day hurried his shot and skewed it wide.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Hall (GK), Gardner, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, Booth, Smart (Cesaire 73), James Foley (Cobley 87), Owens, Hopley, Jones Sub not used Yates

South Shields | 4-2-3-1 | Connell (GK), Brown, Morse, Shaw, Adams, Turnbull, Lowe, Baxter, Gillies, Mason (David Foley 85), Finnigan (Harmison 49) Subs not used Lough, Mouanda, Guy Goal Mason 32 Booked Adams, Turnbull (both fouls), Connell (time-wasting), Harmison (kicking the ball away)

Referee Chris Porter

Attendance 380