Friendly: South Shields 3-1 West Allotment Celtic
South Shields returned to match action on Saturday as they defeated West Allotment Celtic 3-1 in a friendly at Harton Technology College.
Following the postponement of the FA Vase game against Morpeth Town, a friendly with the Ebac Northern League Division One side was arranged.
Shields were impressive, and had too much for their visitors in front of a crowd of over 100, with goals from Robert Briggs, Leepaul Scroggins and Adam Sakr sealing the victory.
As may have been expected, the Mariners looked slightly rusty at the start of the game, having played just once in the last month.
They had the more clear-cut early chances, though, with Julio Arca and Scroggins both having efforts deflected just wide.
Gareth Young had to make three saves at the other end as West Allotment started to make an impression going forward, but after a slow opening 15 minutes, Shields started to dominate.
Briggs had a free-kick blocked, and the ball fell to Arca, who had a low shot well saved by former Mariners goalkeeper Jak Wells.
Soon after, some superb interplay on the right between Danny Carson and Arca released David Foley. His pull-back found Andrew Bulford in space in the box, but his effort was hacked away by a defender before it could beat Wells.
The Shields pressure continued as captain Scroggins was denied with a free-kick, while Wells also saved from Foley.
However, the first goal duly arrived on 28 minutes when Carson swung in a terrific cross from the right, and Briggs was on hand to nod it past Wells at the back post.
Within a minute of the restart, Foley almost made it 2-0, but after cutting in from the right, his low shot was tipped wide by Wells.
Shields continued to press before half-time, with Bulford shooting wide, and Arca also putting an effort just past the post after some superb play in the area.
Briggs went close as he had a low shot blocked, and Foley dragged an effort wide as the Mariners went in at the interval holding a one-goal advantage.
Seven changes were made at the break, with Scott Pocklington, Barrie Smith, Michael Turner, Adam Sakr, Jonny Wightman, Lewis Teasdale and Paul Kane introduced as substitutes.
Despite so many changes, Shields picked up where they left off, and within two minutes of the restart, they added a second goal as two of those who had survived the half-time changes combined.
Ben Riding’s long throw from the right caused problems for the West Allotment defence, and Scroggins beat the goalkeeper to the ball to head it home.
Teasdale, playing his first game for the Mariners since October 24, showed no signs of rust when he was given his first sight of goal, with his impressive strike from outside the box kept out by the legs of the goalkeeper. Arca – who was in fantastic form – also fired just wide in the aftermath.
Kane was inches away from adding his name to the scoresheet after being played in by Teasdale, as his lob beat the goalkeeper but also went just past the post.
Shields did not have to wait too much longer for their third, and it arrived in the 61st minute as Sakr tapped in a low cross from Kane at the near post.
Immediately following the goal, Ibby Hassan was brought on for his first appearance in a Mariners shirt, less than two hours after completing a move to the club.
Pocklington kept out a shot at the other end, but the Mariners continued to have the better of proceedings, with Teasdale and Wightman both shooting not far wide.
West Allotment improved in the latter stages, with Pocklington keeping them out on more than one occasion before they pulled a goal back 11 minutes before the end when a ball in from the right was slotted home.
The visitors threatened a comeback when they were awarded a penalty with eight minutes remaining, but the spot-kick was struck against the post.
At the other end, Teasdale was again denied a goal as his effort was smothered onto the post, and Shields had to settle for a two-goal margin of victory.
They will hope to return to competitive action on Tuesday, with the FA Vase tie against Morpeth Town at Mariners Park again scheduled for 7.45pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young (Pocklington 46), Carson, Heptinstall (Turner 46), Hall (Smith 46), Riding (Hassan 62), Arca (Briggs 74), Foley (Sakr 46) (Riding 79), Scroggins (c), Bulford (Kane 46), Briggs (Teasdale 46), Phillips (Wightman 46).
Goals: Briggs (28), Scroggins (47), Sakr (61).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. STILL IMAGE: Peter Talbot.