South Shields progressed into the semi-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup after producing an excellent display to see off a youthful Hartlepool United side at Mariners Park.
Goals from Jon Shaw, Anthony Callaghan and Robert Briggs sealed a 3-0 success for the Mariners.
It is now 15 wins in a row for Shields, who remain in contention in four competitions.
They were up against a Pools team featuring first-team players Nicky Deverdics and Jordan Richards.
Shields, meanwhile, showed three changes from the team which beat Team Solent 5-2 in the FA Vase on Saturday, with former Ashington captain Darren Lough among those coming in as he made his debut.
Pools started decently, and played some good football in the early stages as they aimed to make an impression in front of a crowd of 704.
However, Shields could so easily have gone in front on six minutes when a good effort from Lough went just wide.
Kenton Richardson and Deverdics both had decent attempts from distance for the visitors, but it was the Mariners who seized control.
Michael Richardson curled a shot not far wide, while he created an even better chance for Alex Nicholson, who fired over from a good position.
The opener eventually came in the 22nd minute when Richardson delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right, and Shaw – moved up-front by Shields for the game – nodded into the bottom corner.
Shaw had two great opportunities to make it 2-0 before half-time, but first hit an effort over and later was denied by a good save from Pools stopper Ryan Catterick.
Catterick had a good game for Hartlepool, and did well to tip an effort from Nicholson around the post four minutes prior to the break.
He was beaten by Wayne Phillips soon after, but his curler also just cleared the crossbar.
In the second half, Shields picked up where they left off, and scored their second in some style on 51 minutes.
They attacked with pace and purpose, and when the ball was played in front of Callaghan on the outside-left of the box, he hammered it in off the crossbar to grab his first goal for the club.
A further boost for the Mariners came when Louis Storey was introduced with over half an hour left, as he made his first senior appearance since September after recovering from a broken leg.
The home support was delighted again when Briggs arrowed in a terrific free-kick off the bar on the hour mark to all but seal Shields’ progress into the last four.
They could have won by more, but Catterick was equal to a low Briggs shot from just inside the box as he palmed it round the post.
He also held onto an effort from Dillon Morse in the closing stages.
Eventually, though, Shields seemed to settle for 3-0, and could have conceded at the other end, but Pools substitute Jack Blackford saw his effort go not far wide.
The Mariners now await next week’s semi-final draw, but of more pressing concern is a return to Northern League Division One action on Saturday, when they take on West Auckland Town at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Briggs, Morse, Lough (Storey 56), Nicholson, Smith, Shaw (c) (Ramsey 52), Richardson, Phillips (Holden 66). Subs not used: Parkin, Arca.
Goals: Shaw (22), Callaghan (51), Briggs (60).
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Catterick, Richardson, Pollock, Assenso, Martin, Elliott, Hawkes, Deverdics, Richards, Orrell (Blackford 64), Rodney. Subs not used: Dudzinski, Turnbull, Fielding, Skidmore.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
The club is delighted to announce the signing of defender Darren Lough.
Darren, who is most adept at left-back but can also play in the centre of defence, joins after his departure from Icelandic top flight side IA Akranes.
He is available to make his debut in Tuesday’s Durham Challenge Cup quarter-final against Hartlepool United at Mariners Park.
Darren came through the ranks at Newcastle United, captaining the Magpies’ reserve side before leaving St James’s Park in 2010.
An impressive two-year stint at hometown club Ashington followed, before he signed for his first Icelandic club, KA Akureyri, in 2012.
After five seasons playing in the Nordic country, Darren has now returned home to the North East of England, and has secured international clearance to complete his move to Mariners Park.
He agreed to join after being impressed with the progress of the club, and having spoken to former Shields assistant manager Gary Middleton, who was his manager during his time at Ashington.
The 27-year-old said: “For the last six months, I’ve been watching South Shields and how they’ve progressed.
“I spoke to Gary Middleton when he was here, and he explained a lot as well. Gary said the club was fantastic and that everything about it was professional.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on it, and the development of the club, the players they’ve got and the way they’re playing is fantastic. That’s the main reason I came here.”
Darren met his new team-mates two days before the 7-0 win at Jarrow Roofing earlier this month, and has trained with the squad since then, while he was part of the travelling party to Southampton on Saturday for the FA Vase tie against Team Solent.
He added: “I’ve trained a couple of times now and the sessions that are put are fantastic.
“The speed of training is brilliant and you’ve got to be on your game all the time to get in the team.
“Lee (Picton) explained to me the plan of wanting to move through the leagues.
“From the last six months of watching South Shields, I’ve been hoping that they were going to push on.
“Everybody wants to be a part of it and I’m just grateful that I’m here now.
“I’m looking forward to playing in front of the fans and showing what I can do.”
South Shields have been handed a home tie against Newport Pagnell Town in the quarter-final of the Buildbase FA Vase.
The Mariners reached the last eight of the competition with an entertaining 5-2 win at Team Solent on Saturday.
They found out their quarter-final fate when the draw was made at Wembley Stadium on Monday morning.
Shields were first out of the hat, securing a match at Mariners Park against Buckinghamshire outfit Newport Pagnell.
They recovered from a 2-0 half-time deficit to defeat Sunderland RCA 3-2 after extra-time in round five, leaving the Mariners as the Northern League’s last remaining representative in the competition.
The Swans will visit Mariners Park on Saturday, February 18 in the quarter-finals.
Details regarding whether the game will be ticketed will be announced in due course.
The Northern League Division One match between Newcastle Benfield and South Shields which had been due to take place on February 18 has been postponed, and will be given a rearranged date in due course.