Match report: South Shields 4-1 Grantham Town
South Shields returned to winning ways as they hit Grantham Town for four at a baking hot 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.
First half goals from Conor Tee and Dillon Morse set the Mariners on their way as they earned a fourth victory in five games in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
Grantham made life difficult in the second half after pulling a goal back from a set-piece, but they were unable to draw back on level terms before Shields turned on the style in the closing stages.
An excellent strike from Ntumba Massanka was followed by a header by substitute Sam Hodgson as the hosts secured a 4-1 victory in front of a delighted crowd of more than 1,700.
The Mariners had dropped their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw with FC United of Manchester four days earlier, but this was a reassuring result for Graham Fenton’s side.
Fenton opted to make two changes to his starting line-up, with Will Jenkins and Darius Osei introduced in place of Nathan Lowe and Alex Kempster.
Shields could not have asked for a better start as they opened the scoring in the third minute.
Some slick play down the right resulted in Darius Osei slipping a ball through to Tee, who followed up his opening goal for the club in midweek by sweeping an effort into the opposite corner with a stylish finish.
Numerous half-chances were created by the hosts, but Jim Pollard was in impressive form in the Grantham goal.
A superb Shields move almost resulted in a second goal on the quarter-hour mark, with Jenkins and Massanka both producing fine pieces of skill to set up an opportunity for Tee, but his low shot from just inside the area was pushed wide by Pollard.
Tee saw another strike saved by Pollard soon after, but the Mariners did not have to wait too much longer for their second goal.
It arrived on 22 minutes as they again carved their visitors open, this time down the left. Callum Ross and Osei combined before the latter’s low pass across goal was powered in by Morse from close range.
Massanka was the next to go for goal as a rampant Shields attacked at will, but Pollard held onto his effort.
Pollard was beaten less than a minute later though by an Osei attempt from the right of the area which kissed the post. The ball bounced out to Blair Adams who looked certain to convert his fourth goal of the season, only for Pollard to pick himself up and brilliantly claw his goalbound strike over the bar.
The Grantham goalkeeper remained busy and was forced into another stop by Osei on the stroke of half-time, with the away side going in at the break knowing they had plenty to do to turn the tide in the second half.
They did pose a significantly greater threat after the break, though, and they pulled a goal back when Adam Chapman’s free-kick from the left struck James Williamson before looping over Myles Boney and into the net.
Opportunities were much harder to come by for the Mariners in the second half, and the closest they came in the early stages of it was a sweet strike from distance by Jenkins which cleared the crossbar.
There was a sense that frustration was beginning to set in but any feelings of doubt for Shields were brushed aside in stunning fashion by Massanka 16 minutes from the end.
A cross from the left was half-cleared and dropped to Massanka just inside the area before the striker took aim with a thumping half-volley which arrowed into the top corner, leaving Pollard with no chance.
Substitute Hodgson effectively made the points safe four minutes later with his first competitive goal for the club as he guided Robert Briggs’ cross from the right into the bottom corner with a terrific header.
There was no way back from there for the Gingerbreads, with Shields seeing out the remainder of the second half in comfortable fashion.
The Mariners are back in action on Monday when they travel to Scarborough Athletic for another league fixture.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Kempster 77), Ross, Morse, Bodenham, Jenkins (Lowe 61), Briggs (c), Massanka, Tee, Osei (Hodgson 66). Subs not used: McGowan, Rossiter.
Goals: Tee (3), Morse (22), Massanka (74), Hodgson (78).
Image: Craig McNair.