FC United 0-2 South Shields: Mariners extend winning streak on memorable night
South Shields chalked up their sixth consecutive league victory to stretch their lead at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division to six points with a deserved 2-0 triumph at FC United on Tuesday.
Goals in either half from Lee Mason and Jason Gilchrist sealed the three points for the Mariners as they continued their outstanding form.
It was Shields’ first visit to Broadhurst Park and it is sure to be remembered for all the right reasons.
The Mariners won despite being without captain Jon Shaw and midfielder Adam Thurston, who both missed out with the injuries which forced them off in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Buxton.
Robert Briggs and David Foley were the two players introduced to the starting line-up, while Gilchrist made his return from a hamstring injury on the bench and new signing Sanmi Odelusi was also among the substitutes.
FC United goalkeeper Paddy Wharton had his palms warmed as early as the third minute when Josh Gillies swung in a free-kick from the left which had to be punched to safety.
That attempt was part of an impressive start from the Mariners, with Mason the next to go close as his strike from a tight angle on the right of the area whistled over.
The home back line was repeatedly being put under pressure and it was breached in the 13th minute when Briggs played a superb pass through for Mason, who ran through on the left of the box before drilling a low effort which almost squirmed under Wharton, but the goalkeeper managed the flick the ball out for a corner with his feet.
Jordan Hunter was the next to test Wharton with a shot from the right, before the hosts began to have more of a say in proceedings.
Curtis Jones headed wide from an Alex Curran corner and Curran himself fired wide from 20 yards after a quick counter-attack.
Curran appeared to be their main threat and he went close to opening the scoring as he ran at the Shields defence before curling a shot not far past the post from outside the area.
The visitors were soon back in the ascendancy, though, and Gillies forced Wharton into another terrific stop with his feet after Mason slid him in on the right of the box.
The breatkthrough arrived for the Mariners on 36 minutes, with Hunter at the heart of it.
He beat his man on the right before dribbling to the byeline and pulling a pass across goal, where Mason was on hand to steal a march on his defender and poke the ball into the net for his second goal in as many appearances.
Shields looked destined to go two goals ahead six minutes before the break when Blair Adams’ pass down the line on the left played in Foley and he ran through on goal, but his shot found the side netting.
The second half was a tighter affair with chances difficult to come by, although the game was sparked into life again when Shields introduced Odelusi for his debut in the 64th minute.
He had a half-chance within moments of coming on, but his half volley from 20 yards was gathered by Wharton.
The home side went close to an equaliser soon after that when Curran fired a low effort goalwards from 12 yards, but Gillies was in the right place to hack the ball off the line and maintain Shields’ clean sheet.
Another opportunity came and went for FC as Aaron Morris flashed a shot wide from the right of the area, before a short burst of intense pressure from the Mariners paid off with nine minutes left.
Wharton did well to sprawl to his right and save from Gilchrist and then another substitute, Nathan Lowe, was denied by a superb block from Jones.
Shields maintained the momentum and soon launched another attack, with Odelusi’s cross from the left fumbled by Wharton to Adams, whose effort from point blank range was saved by the goalkeeper.
Briggs quickly won the ball back and then Lowe’s effort was saved by Wharton before the rebound fell to Gilchrist, who rifled it into the roof of the net to spark jubilant celebrations.
Adams smashed a late effort into the side netting for Shields as they searched for a third, but two goals were enough as they stretched their lead at the top of the table.
The Mariners are next in action when they host Atherton Collieries in the league on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Briggs (c), Baxter, Mason (Odelusi 64), Gillies (Lowe 74), Foley (Gilchrist 58). Subs not used: Wokoma, Charlton.
Goals: Mason (36), Gilchrist (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.