Crook Town 0-4 South Shields: The Mariners are crowned champions
South Shields were crowned champions of Ebac Northern League Division Two after a commanding 4-0 win on a triumphant day at Crook Town on Saturday.
Goals from Daryll Hall, Julio Arca, Warren Byrne and Lewis Teasdale sealed the victory for the Mariners in front of a big away support.
Shields had already sealed promotion after a 1-0 victory at Easington Colliery earlier this month, and will be presented with the championship on Tuesday at the game against Willington at Mariners Park.
They were in control from the start at Crook, with Robert Briggs flashing a shot wide within the first 30 seconds.
The long throws of Ben Riding proved to be a constant threat to the home defence in the first half, and their first warning was fired in the third minute when Michael Turner almost managed to bundle an effort in from a throw.
Crook cleared the ball out of play on Shields’ left, and from the resulting throw, the visitors took the lead.
Riding launched the ball high into the air, and it looped onto the head of Hall inside the area, who made no mistake as he directed into the bottom corner, via the glove of home goalkeeper Ryan Graham.
The weapon of Riding’s throw continued to haunt the home side, with Graham just beating Briggs to the ball from another, while from a Julio Arca corner, Hall headed a decent opportunity over.
It felt that a second goal was inevitable, and Briggs almost provided it when Arca pulled a free-kick from the right back to him, and his effort was tipped onto the bar by Graham.
Crook forays forward were rare, but Scott Pocklington did need to be on hand to keep out a low effort by Shaun Tarling from distance.
The golden opportunities were falling the way of Shields, though, and Martyn Coleman spurned one when Hall flicked the ball onto him in the area, but he could only head over.
Briggs also saw a header kept out, but Shields’ momentum was halted somewhat when captain Leepaul Scroggins was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
They continued to dominate the ball following the introduction of David Foley from the bench, and Arca missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 when Coleman squeezed the ball through to him, with the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder only able to cut a shot wide.
An acrobatic effort from Barrie Smith from 30 yards just cleared the crossbar before the Mariners finally built their two-goal advantage five minutes before half-time.
After another long Riding throw from the left, the referee judged that a foul had taken place in the box, and Arca made no mistake from the spot as he rolled the ball past the goalkeeper to give Shields some breathing space.
The Mariners were desperately unlucky not to take a three-goal lead into the break, with Foley having a shot cleared off the line and Michael Turner also denied.
There was still time for Graham to make an acrobatic one-handed save to keep out a Turner effort, and this time the follow-up from Coleman was blocked in front of goal.
It was a half full of positivity for Shields, and there appeared little potential for a home comeback.
Sure enough, any hopes of Crook fighting their way back into the game were extinguished within eight minutes of the restart as Byrne got in behind on the left, showed his strength to beat his man and then rolled the ball between the legs of Graham for his 30th goal of the season.
It was just a matter of how many the visitors would score at that stage, and Foley looked destined to add his name to the scoresheet when he was played in behind on the right following good work from Coleman, but after appearing to be tugged back, his eventual shot was saved.
Riding had a header from close range saved, while substitute Teasdale also nodded wide at the back post and Hall directed an effort just past the post as the Mariners continued to press for a fourth goal.
They were met by good home resistance, though, with Teasdale having a header cleared off the line, Coleman seeing a one-on-one effort kept out by Graham and Smith hitting two shots just over.
Finally, though, the breakthrough came with three minutes remaining, again from the penalty spot. Good work from Coleman got him in behind on the inside-right of the box, and when he was fouled, Teasdale took responsibility, smashing the ball down the centre to complete the scoring.
It capped an excellent afternoon for the Mariners, who then celebrated on the pitch with their supporters amid jubilant scenes at Millfield.
With the trophy to be presented on Tuesday, hopes will be high that a party atmosphere will greet the players at the match against Willington.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Turner, Hall, Carson, Riding, Briggs, Scroggins (c) (Foley 32), Byrne (Ramsey 70), Coleman, Arca (Teasdale 61). Subs not used: Richardson, Hassan.
Goals: Hall (4), Arca (pen 40), Byrne (53), Teasdale (pen 87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.