Darius Osei netted twice as South Shields won the inaugural CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy match against Blyth Spartans on Saturday.
The in-form forward bagged either side of half-time to help Shields to a 2-1 victory over the National League North side at Croft Park.
It continued Shields’ 100% start to pre-season and was their most notable victory of the summer to date.
Shields started on the front foot as Ntumba Massanka almost capitalised on an error by Blyth goalkeeper Alex Mitchell, but he did well to recover and block the follow-up strike.
The home side then had a great chance to take the lead as Connor Thompson stole the ball from Dillion Morse, but Myles Boney did well to close the angle and the effort trickled comfortably wide.
Although Blyth had produced the best chance of the game at that point, Shields were still pressing for the opening goal. Massanka was presented with a great opportunity to get it, but he miscued his shot and the ball sailed out for a goal kick.
Not long afterwards, Shields’ pressure paid off. Nathan Lowe played a brilliant corner into the front post and Osei flicked the ball into the roof of the net after beating his marker.
Blyth nearly hit back immediately as Thompson, who caused problems throughout the afternoon, found space in front of goal but dragged his shot wide.
The Mariners doubled their lead not long after the break as Osei bagged his second. Conor Tee did brilliantly to beat a defender and stand up a cross to the far post, where the in-form Osei was waiting to control the ball and fire into an empty net.
The home side got one back straightaway as substitute Karl Byrne was presented with a great opportunity and lifted the ball over Boney and into the net.
That gave Spartans much-needed energy as they searched for an equaliser. It almost came through Nicky Deverdics as Robbie Dale’s corner caused unrest in the penalty area, but his effort from close range hit the side netting.
Shields saw out the rest of the game after absorbing pressure towards the end, and look in great shape for the season ahead after continuing their winning pre-season run.
South Shields: Boney, Verstraaten, Kempster, Trialist (Agnew 58), Morse, Ross, Osei (McGowan 80), Briggs (c), Massanka, Lowe, Tee. Subs not used: Steavens, Neary, Hodgson, Steavens.
Goals: Osei (27, 50).
Words: Daniel O’Neill. Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields impressed as they defeated Sunderland West End 3-1 in the NERWFL Subsidiary Plate final on Thursday.
Just days after their defeat to Durham Cestria in the final of the County Cup, the Mariners bounced back to end their season with silverware and go into the summer break with a positive feeling.
They were threatening from the start against West End and almost took the lead seconds after kick-off as a trialist found space in the box and fired a shot at goal which the goalkeeper matched.
Lois Greenslade then spearheaded a brilliant Shields counter-attack. She skipped past the West End midfield and slipped in Eve Gatens, but her effort was saved.
Only seconds later, home side West End had an effort of their own. A one-two saw the striker go through on goal, but an impressive save denied her.
Shields took the lead as Greenslade did well to steal the ball high up the pitch and played in Gatens, who brilliantly turned her defender but saw her effort saved, and the trialist converted the rebound.
Greenslade and Gatens linked up again as the former drove towards the defence and played in Gatens, who fired a wonderful effort into the top corner.
Almost immediately, the Mariners hit the inside of the post from distance. Gatens struck the ball from the right corner of the box and was unlucky not to score.
Shields nearly scored the goal of the season as a lovely passing move from the back resulted in Gatens going through on goal, but her effort was brilliantly saved.
The away side did add a third from the resulting corner. Rebecca Ward whipped in a great ball and Gatens made up for the miss by burying a superb volley into the roof of the net.
West End had a great chance late in the half as a striker latched on to a fine through ball, but the effort was lofted over the bar.
They had two other opportunities, with Alex Miller’s fantastic last-ditch tackle snuffing out one of them, before eventually pulling one back after the controversial decision to sin bin Shields’ Megan Archbold.
That did little to dampen Shields’ mood as they saw out their 3-1 victory.
Head coach Scott Curtis said: “It’s a great feeling.
“Everyone put a shift in and we looked comfortable for large portions of the game.
“It’s a nice way to end the season and we’ll enjoy this, but we’re always looking to improve and we’ll be back stronger next season.”
South Shields suffered heartbreak in the Durham FA County Cup final on Sunday as Durham Cestria ran out 6-1 winners.
The Mariners have been impressive in recent weeks and made a great account of themselves during their cup run.
They suffered an early blow at Harton Welfare, though, as Erin Williams-Brown was forced off in the early stages of the game with a leg injury and Megan Archibold volunteered to be the stand-in goalkeeper.
Durham took the lead early in the game as Abby Towers did well to cut out a cross but the ball bounced off the post and in fortunate circumstances, the visitors had the ball in the net.
They doubled their lead when a speculative effort was curled into the top corner and when a third goal arrived shortly after, it was shaping up to be a tall order for Shields.
Archibold made a brilliant save to keep the Mariners in the game but Durham did add a fourth just before the break, as they scored a great free-kick that was just out of Archibold‘s reach.
The game was put out of sight as a threaded ball through the defence found the Durham forward, who finished via the post.
Annece Legg pulled one back almost immediately for Shields. Some great pressing of the Durham back line resulted in the goalkeeper taking a poor touch, and Legg made her pay by stealing the ball and finishing the chance.
Shields continued to press to get themselves back in the game as the second half continued.
Durham had a half-chance as the striker ran through on goal, but Alex Miller did just enough to put her off as she fired over the bar.
The opposition then added a sixth as a well-executed one-two allowed the striker to run through on goal and she slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Eve Gattens had a chance with a free-kick from close range. She tried to go under the wall, but the goalkeeper read it and held onto the effort.
There were further chances for Durham to extend their lead but they hit the post with one chance, were denied by a fantastic save by Archibold and then struck the crossbar with a whipped free-kick as the scoring ended at six.
Shields head coach Scott Curtis said: “I firstly want to say congratulations to Durham.
“I think we matched them for the last hour of the game, but they were the better team for the first 30.
“We are disappointed to not come away as winners, but I am proud of each and every player, and we will come back stronger.
“There were some positive signs for sure and we can only improve.”