Match report: Stalybridge Celtic 1-3 South Shields
South Shields were in clinical mood as they sealed a deserved 3-1 victory at Stalybridge Celtic to make it two wins from two in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
Two goals in three minutes from Darius Osei and Blair Adams – both assisted by the excellent Jordan Hunter – earned the Mariners a commanding first half lead but they were put under pressure by their hosts after the break.
Graham Fenton’s side held firm after Ioan Evans halved their advantage, though, and were rewarded as Ntumba Massanka slammed home to seal a hard-fought three points on the road.
Shields opted for a 3-5-2 formation at Bower Fold and their wing-back pairing of Adams and Hunter proved to be integral to the win.
However, they found chances difficult to come by in the early stages, with the visitors generally controlling proceedings without penetrating Celtic’s backline.
The Mariners appeared to step it up a gear midway through the first half and after earning a corner on the right, a dangerous delivery by Nathan Lowe curved its way towards goal and needed to be tipped over by Stalybridge goalkeeper Grant Shenton.
Their dominance on the ball got its reward just before the half-hour mark as they converted their first real opening of the game.
Hunter edged the ball inside from the left flank and powered in a delivery which Osei superbly flicked goalwards from 12 yards with the back of his head. It ultimately had too much on it for Shenton as the forward notched his first competitive goal of the season against his former club.
Buoyed by his assist, Hunter roared forward again less than three minutes later as Shields counter-attacked with pace. Conor Tee and Osei combined before Hunter was released down the right and sent a superb low cross into the six-yard box, where his fellow wing-back Adams was on hand to convert after darting inside.
The Mariners had been ruthless with their opportunities and almost added a third early in the second half.
Dillon Morse’s header found Adams 25 yards from goal and with the left-back full of confidence after scoring in successive games, he was eyeing another one. His low effort struck the inside of the post before bouncing to safety.
Shields sensed an opportunity to put the game to bed and created a double chance moments later, but Tee’s strike was beaten away by Shenton and a follow-up shot from Osei was blocked.
The momentum shifted in the 55th minute as Celtic halved their deficit. Callum Harris teased in a superb cross from the left and Evans got on the end of it to nod past Myles Boney.
Boney was at his commanding best in the following minutes as the home side attempted to notch up the pressure in search of an equaliser.
Eventually Shields established control again and they almost restored their two-goal advantage when a delivery from the left by Adams was headed narrowly over by Jack Bodenham.
The away side remained composed as they protected their win, which was secured seven minutes from the end after impressive work from substitutes Will Jenkins and Alex Kempster before the latter delivered an excellent cross which Massanka rifled into the top corner with a quick turn of his body.
Kempster could have added further gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time but curled wide after racing through on goal.
Shields had by then done enough to secure a second successive victory, and they will look to make it three when they travel to Witton Albion on Saturday.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse, Bodenham, Osei (Kempster 76), Ross, Massanka (Hodgson 89), Lowe, Tee (Jenkins 71). Subs not used: Briggs, McGowan.
Goals: Osei (29), Adams (31), Massanka (83).