Ashton United 0-2 South Shields: Gilchrist double seals another win

Jason Gilchrist’s first half brace earned South Shields a 2-0 win at Ashton United as they continued their 100% start to 2020.

Gilchrist struck twice in the first 19 minutes as the Mariners took control early against a relegation-threatened Ashton side before seeing the game out comfortably.

The result kept Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side three points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.

Picton and Fenton made one change from the side which defeated Scarborough Athletic 2-1 on New Year’s Day, with Sefton Gonzales introduced for his first start in place of Lee Mason.

Gonzales went on to have an impressive impact at the top end of the pitch as he regularly brought Gilchrist and others into play, while possessing a real goal threat himself.

It took just four minutes for the Mariners to get their noses in front and Gonzales was heavily involved as he helped Phil Turnbull’s clipped pass through to Nathan Lowe and he nudged it to Gilchrist, who ruthlessly finished first time into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

The away side went close to making it two with their next attack as Lowe used his strength to get in behind on the left of the box before his powerful effort was blocked.

Shields continued their bright start as Arron Thompson tested Greg Hartley with a volley from the edge of the box, while at the other end a strike from Sam Sheridan was deflected wide by Gary Brown.

Gilchrist added his second of the afternoon and 15th of the season in the 19th minute.

Lowe’s corner from the left was hooked across the area by Robert Briggs and tucked away by Gilchrist from close range as Shields made their dominance count.

There could have been further goals for the Mariners in the first half but they were unable to add a third.

A sweet strike from distance by Lowe was beaten away by Hartley, Brown fired over from close range as he got on the end of a superb Briggs delivery and Gonzales hit the ball into the side netting as the chances continued to come.

There were further opportunities before half-time for Shields and the closest they came was a 20 yard half volley by Briggs which struck the foot of the post.

Ashton went close to halving the deficit three minutes before the break, but Chris Rowney’s shot from just outside the area narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Gonzales had a golden chance to score the goal his performance deserved five minutes into the second half as he raced onto a ball through the centre, only for Hartley to close the angle well and deny him.

The forward went close again as he got his head on a terrific delivery from the left, but this time Hartley squirmed across to make a superb fingertip save.

Substitute Will Jenkins, Lowe and Brown all went close to adding their names to the scoresheet before the final whistle signalled another away victory for the Mariners.

They take a short break from league action on Tuesday when they take on Billingham Town at Mariners Park in the Durham Challenge Cup.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Baxter, Shaw (c), Brown, Turnbull, Thompson (Jenkins 62), Briggs (Verstraaten 70), Gilchrist, Lowe, Gonzales (Mason 84). Subs not used: Charlton, Hodgson.

Goals: Gilchrist (4, 19).

Attendance: 277.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.