Match report: South Shields 3-0 Mickleover
South Shields got off to a winning start in the Pitching In Northern Premier League as Blair Adams’ fierce strike and two debut goals from Ntumba Massanka saw off the challenge of Mickleover at a buoyant 1st Cloud Arena.
Adams’ fierce drive in the first half will take some beating in the goal of the season stakes and was the perfect way for the Mariners to mark their return to competitive action after 249 long days without it.
Massanka fired home a quickfire double early in the second half to seal the points for the Mariners as they delighted a crowd of more than 1,700 in the South Tyneside sunshine.
Adams’ first half stunner was a deserved opening goal for the Mariners, who dominated proceedings in the first half as several players came to the fore.
Darius Osei continued the outstanding form he had demonstrated in pre-season with a direct display which the visitors struggled to handle, with his first bright moment arriving in just the second minute as he tested goalkeeper Callum Hawkins from range.
Nathan Lowe also forced Hawkins into a save with a free-kick from deep, with Robert Briggs seeing a similar effort kept out by the goalkeeper shortly after the quarter-hour mark.
The season had lift-off 11 minutes before half-time thanks to a blockbuster from Adams’ left foot. As he collected possession just outside the area on the left he had only one thing on his mind and delivered just that. He crashed the ball towards goal and as it rose and rose, its progress could only be stopped by the top corner of the netting as Shields’ left-back started the season in some style.
Myles Boney had not been tested at that stage but he was called upon as the game approached half-time, and responded in fine fashion.
A mix-up in midfield by Shields saw Declan Bacon presented with a one-on-one opportunity but Boney was out in a flash to close down the angle and save. He could only parry the ball, though, and as Mickleover kept it alive Bacon was presented with another opportunity, this time sending a header into the ground which Boney superbly tipped over.
If that was a warning for the Mariners, their reaction was immediate and they almost doubled their lead as Briggs pounced on a loose ball to run through on goal, but his deft shot went past the post.
There was still time for Stuart Beavon to head narrowly wide as the away side again threatened an equaliser, but Shields will have gone in at the break satisfied with their first half display and confident there was more to come. So it proved.
Graham Fenton’s side went to another level after the restart as they repeatedly pressurised their opponents and added a clinical touch to provide the goals their possession warranted.
They doubled their advantage less than three minutes into the second half as Adams turned provider, advancing down the left and delivering a superb low cross which Massanka swept home on his competitive debut for the club.
The striker swiftly added another six minutes later when Lowe’s corner from the right was headed by Dillon Morse to Osei and when his shot was blocked, Massanka was quickest to respond before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net.
Massanka was replaced by fellow new boy Jack Bodenham soon after as Shields tried out another formation but their progress continued, with Briggs going close to goal number four as his near-post header from a Lowe corner was saved well by Hawkins.
The Mariners’ domination of possession continued, albeit without the creation of clear chances.
A further goal was ultimately not needed though as the hosts began the campaign in serene style ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Stalybridge Celtic.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Kempster 72), Shaw, Morse, Ross, Osei, Briggs (c) (McGowan 79), Massanka (Bodenham 59), Lowe, Tee. Subs not used: Jenkins, Hodgson.
Goals: Adams (34), Massanka (48, 54).
Image: Kev Wilson.