Match report: Scarborough Athletic 0-2 South Shields
South Shields made it five wins from six as they produced a stellar performance to beat Scarborough Athletic at the Flamingo Land Stadium.
First half goals from Darius Osei and Conor Tee ensured the Mariners returned from North Yorkshire with maximum points to show for their Bank Holiday efforts.
Backed by a large and vociferous travelling support, Shields produced their finest display of the season so far to move to the top of the early Pitching In Northern Premier League table.
It took just eight minutes for the away side to open the scoring, and it was a goal which had been coming.
They had already twice almost taken the lead, with first Tee denied at point-blank range by former Shields loanee Ryan Whitley following a cross from Jordan Hunter.
Whitley then kept Ntumba Massanka off the scoresheet as the frontman raced through on goal and looked certain to score. His powerful low effort struck the outstretched hand of Whitley, whose contact on the ball was just strong enough to prevent a goal.
Massanka was at the heart of the breakthrough when it arrived less than a minute later. Osei prodded the ball through to him and as he again found himself one-on-one with Whitley, this time he decided to square to Osei, who had kept running after his initial pass. He finished first time into the roof of the net to the delight of the big contingent of Shields fans behind the goal.
Scarborough struggled to contain the Mariners as they continued their turbo-charged start to the game and a second goal almost arrived on 11 minutes as the excellent Hunter drove inside from the right before unleashing a left foot rifle which Whitley did brilliantly to turn around the post.
The Seadogs went into the match unbeaten and showcased the first sign of their attacking talent when Nathan Cartman’s strike from the edge of the box was brilliantly blocked by Dillon Morse, who stood firm throughout.
Shields’ early momentum was punctured in the 14th minute, with Nathan Lowe pulling up with a hamstring injury. It was an undoubted blow but his replacement Will Jenkins softened it somewhat with an outstanding display full of grit, maturity and a smattering of flair.
The initial period after Lowe’s withdrawal proved to be the most testing of the match for Graham Fenton’s side, but Scarborough were unable to find a way past Myles Boney.
After Jack Bodenham blocked from Will Thornton, Boney produced a superb reaction stop after Ryan Watson flashed an effort through a sea of bodies, with the Shields goalkeeper later getting strong hands on a strike from distance by James Cadman to maintain his team’s advantage.
The home side’s only opportunities were arriving via set-pieces taken by Watson, but Shields refused to be breached and protected Boney’s goal well before going up a gear in the closing stages of the first half to seize control.
They almost went two goals ahead six minutes before half-time when Osei ghosted into space down the left of the area and struck a low shot which Whitley kicked onto the post.
The Mariners did not have to wait too much longer to double their lead, though, and it came after terrific pressing on the right channel by Hunter. He robbed Ashley Jackson of possession before sweeping the ball across to Massanka, who took a touch and laid it off for the excellently placed Tee. An unerring finish past Whitley was the clinical end to the move Shields had been searching for and saw Tee make it three goals in as many games.
Michael Coulson had an opportunity to half Scarborough’s deficit on the stroke of half-time but his attempt from a Watson free-kick was off-target and Shields ended the half more than satisfied with their efforts.
Boro had a presentable opportunity within two minutes of the restart as substitute Kieran Weledji got on the end of another free-kick. He struck the side netting with his shot.
The points should have been made safe by Shields moments later. Massanka stole the ball midway inside his own half and Tee then advanced it to Hunter, who had a clean run on goal. Similarly to the example set by Massanka in the first half, he progressed into dangerous territory before squaring to Osei, but this time he could not produce the finish to match the move and the ball squirmed wide.
Scarborough were unable to take advantage of their reprieve and in fact, it was the Mariners who continued to present the bigger threat.
Whitley denied Osei with his feet and also did well to keep out a header by Bodenham, while only a last-ditch tackle prevented substitute Alex Kempster having a strike at goal after a sweeping counter-attack.
The Seadogs failed to seriously test Boney in the closing stages as the travelling support serenaded the Shields players, who saw things out with impressive assurance to leapfrog Buxton to top spot on goal difference.
It was a memorable afternoon for the Mariners on and off the pitch ahead of their short break from league action.
Their next fixture is away to Shildon in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Ross, Morse, Bodenham, Osei (Hodgson 82), Briggs (c), Massanka (Kempster 62), Lowe (Jenkins 14), Tee. Subs not used: McGowan, Rossiter.
Goals: Osei (8), Tee (40).
Image: Kev Wilson.