Birtley Town 1-3 South Shields
A three-goal blitz in the opening 15 minutes carried in-form South Shields to a 15th straight victory at Birtley Town on Wednesday.
Andrew Bulford, David Foley and Stephen Ramsey killed the game off in the first quarter of an hour as the Mariners moved 11 points clear at the top of Northern League Division Two with a 3-1 triumph.
The hefty travelling support was cheering within three minutes as a ball from the right by Foley found its way across to Bulford, who took a touch before his shot went in via a deflection.
Foley scored the second on 12 minutes as he finished off a superb move.
Robert Briggs backheeled the ball to Wayne Phillips on the left, and his cross was headed to Foley 10 yards out, who slammed it home.
The third goal arrived after impressive combination play between Ramsey and Briggs.
Briggs’ shot from the edge of the box then hit the post, and Ramsey was there to snap up the rebound.
Birtley got a foothold in the game on 21 minutes when a corner from the right was headed goalwards and cleared off the line before Kieran Day touched it in.
Shields goalkeeper Gareth Young also held a shot from Scott Arnott, while at the other end, Ramsey just failed to convert a Phillips cross.
Ramsey went close to making it four on the half-hour mark when his header from a Phillips corner was cleared off the line, while Foley and Briggs also went close.
The Mariners had to be alert at the other end, though, and were fired a warning six minutes before the break when Michael Gray headed just wide.
Shields responded instantly, and Foley sprinted forward, cut in from the right and hit an effort which took a deflection before striking the post.
Birtley started the second half strongly, but Foley almost added a fourth when he sent a shot narrowly wide.
Daryll Hall put an effort just over as Shields continued to press, while Phillips curled in a superb free-kick which goalkeeper Dominic McMahon did well to claw away.
Leepaul Scroggins was also denied by the goalkeeper, and Young saved from Mark Bailes as the Mariners kept it tight at the other end.
Shields had long since done enough to claim all three points as their remarkable winning run continued.
They travel to Easington Colliery – the last team to beat them – in the league on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young, Smith, Turner, Hall, Galpin, Briggs, Foley, Scroggins (c), Ramsey (Arca 73), Bulford (Wightman 65), Phillips (Sakr 79). Subs not used: Pocklington, Byrne.
Goals: Bulford (3), Foley (12), Ramsey (15).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. STILL IMAGE: Peter Talbot.