South Shields continued their preparations for the new season with an impressive 3-0 victory over National League North side York City.

Captain Robert Briggs handed the Mariners a first half lead at 1st Cloud Arena, converting from the penalty spot after midfielder Callum Ross was fouled.

Nathan Lowe’s free-kick and an emphatic finish by Jason Gilchrist in the second 45 confirmed the victory for the Mariners.

Shields were back in action following Saturday’s postponed fixture against Blyth Spartans, and were immediately onto the front foot.

Lowe picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal, but his dipping half-volley passed just over the crossbar.

After a bright start, however, the visitors began to settle into their rhythm, and started to create chances of their own.

They came agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the 15h minute. Former Gateshead midfielder Paddy McLaughlin unleashed a venomous drive from the left hand side, which crashed off the post.

Minutes later, Jack Redshaw received the ball with his back to goal but his low effort was tame and Ross Coombe gathered comfortably.

Redshaw did have the ball in the back of the net in the 24th minute, after he had fired a low drive across goal into the far corner, but the linesman had his flag raised for offside.

Then, in the 36th minute, a long ball over the top was allowed to bounce, which was seized upon by Ross who was then brought down just inside the area.

The ever-reliable from 12 yards Briggs stepped up and rolled the penalty into the bottom left corner of the goal.

The home side burst out of the traps in the second half. Alex Kempster, playing against his former team, did brilliantly down the left hand side as he forced his way to the by-line, before cutting the ball back to Lowe.

The midfielder was chopped down on the edge of the area, but dusted himself down to dispatch a low-driven free-kick from the edge of the area into the bottom left hand corner.

Lowe was involved just minutes later as he slipped in Gilchrist on the right hand side of the box. He cut back inside the defender and fired a powerful shot into the right corner.

The Mariners’ second half onslaught continued just moments after the restart as Josh Gillies went close, but his 55th minute effort struck the foot of the post.

The Minstermen refused to be beaten, however, as they piled the pressure on, forcing some good defending from Shields, notably from Craig Baxter who took the full brunt of a volley from close range.

Shields thought they had added a fourth in the 80th minute as Will Jenkins’ lovely through ball was latched onto by Will McCamley, who calmly slotted past the onrushing keeper, but the winger was adjudged to be offside.

McLaughlin came close to reducing the deficit for City five minutes from time, as he forced substitute keeper Myles Boney to tip his long range effort over the bar.

South Shields: Coombe (Boney 46), Hunter, Baxter, Ross (Turnbull 72), Wade (Jenkins 46), Agnew, Gillies (Verstraaten 72), Briggs (c), Gilchrist (Osei 72), Lowe (Mason 72), Kempster (McCamley 64). Subs not used: Lockey, Thompson, Hodgson.

Goals: Briggs (pen 36), Lowe (49), Gilchrist (50).

York City: James, Kennedy, Tinkler, Newton, Spratt, Barrow, McLaughlin, Trialist, Bunn, Redshaw, Cassidy. Subs: Whitley, King, Jebson-King, Whitfield, Harrison, Dyson, Guilfoyle, Trialist, Trialist.

Attendance: 600.

IMAGE: Kev Wilson.

South Shields travel to 16th-placed Stafford Rangers on Saturday in their penultimate away league fixture of the 2018-19 campaign.

Here, we take a look at how Rangers have fared so far this season.

The Mariners will be in for another tough test when they travel to relegation-threatened Stafford.

The hosts sit just four points above the relegation zone, having collected 40 points from their 37 games.

More than half of those 40 points have come at their Marston Road home, where Boro have collected 23 of their total points this term.

Rangers have a record of five wins and eight draws from their 18 games played at home this season, which includes a 1-1 draw against Warrington Town in March.

Stafford were unable to take points off Shields’ title rivals Farsley Celtic, however, as the league leaders dispatched Rangers by three goals to one.

The Mariners have made the 392-mile round-trip to Stafford once before, for an FA Trophy tie in November 2017.

Despite Robert Briggs handing Shields an early lead, Massiah McDonald bagged a hat-trick to put the Mariners’ cup run to an end and confined them to defeat.

The only league meeting between the two clubs came way back in August when the Mariners bounced back from a 4-1 defeat to Farsley Celtic.

Gavin Cogdon, Robert Briggs and Carl Finnigan were on target that day as Shields coasted past Boro in a comfortable win.

Rangers currently lie 13th in the form guide over the last six games after taking a total of eight points. Shields, meanwhile sit in second, taking 16 points from six games.

Boro will come into the fixture with confidence on the back of their away victory over Whitby Town, winning by two goals to one to boost their survival hopes.

Saturday afternoon sees South Shields travel to Stafford United in their penultimate away league fixture of the season.

Here, we take a closer look at the recent history of the West Midlands-based club.

The first reference of a football club in Stafford was made in the Staffordshire advertiser in 1876. In 1896, the club moved into their current Marston Road home.

In 1974-75, Rangers defeated Stockport, Halifax and Rotherham on their way to the fourth round of the FA Cup before going out to Peterborough in front of 31,160 supporters at Stoke’s Victoria Ground.

2002-03 saw Stafford finish as runners-up in the Southern Premier League as well as reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in a decade.

The next season, Rangers finished third and were promoted into the newly-formed Conference North.

In 2005-06, they won promotion to the Conference Premier thanks to a play-off victory over Droylsden.

Their stay at that level lasted just two years though, before they were relegated back down to the Conference North.

Despite appointing the likes of Steve Bull, Tim Flowers and Matt Elliot the club couldn’t improve their fortunes and they were relegated to the Northern Premier League in 2011-12.

Then in 2015-16 Boro won the Evo-Stik First Division South title, with the club turning a corner both on and off the pitch.

The following season, the club consolidated their position in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, finishing 13th in their first season back, improving on the last season by finishing in 12th position.

The end of the season saw the departure of manager Neil Kitching and most of the playing staff due to the geographical problems caused by the FA’s re-structuring of the non-league pyramid.

Former Stafford striker Steve Burr returned to be club as manager in the summer of 2018 to rebuild the the squad and take the club forward.

He resigned in December 2018, with Alex Meechan and Andy Fearn now in joint charge of the team.