South Shields got their title bid back on track with a convincing victory over Whickham at Mariners Park.
The Mariners, who had lost their first two league games of 2016, maintained their six point lead at the top of Ebac Northern League Division Two with a 5-0 win.
Leepaul Scroggins, Lewis Teasdale (2), Ibby Hassan and Warren Byrne were the men on target for Shields as they successfully built on Wednesday’s 3-2 triumph over Gateshead in the Durham Challenge Cup.
Jon King made just two changes to his starting line-up from Wednesday’s win, with the unavailable Michael Turner and Daryll Hall replaced by John Grey and Ben Riding.
Shields were dominant throughout the game on a pitch which was heavy after some matchday rainfall, and both Robert Briggs and David Foley went close early on.
It was Stephen Ramsey who came the closest to giving them the lead, though, when his header from a Foley corner was excellently cleared off the line by Kallum Broadhead.
The deadlock was broken on 14 minutes, though, when a Foley corner was dropped and Scroggins turned home the loose ball in the six-yard box.
Whickham’s first half-chance came when Broadhead drilled wide from 25 yards, while Ramsey also hit one off target from a similar distance at the other end.
Ramsey, who was continuing to hold the ball up well, also had the next opportunity as he dribbled towards the area before powering an effort wide.
Teasdale added the second goal of the afternoon on the half-hour mark. Barrie Smith went on a fine run down the right before playing the ball inside for Teasdale, who brought it more central before leathering a low shot beyond visiting goalkeeper Alexander Curran.
Six minutes later, Foley had an effort deflected behind, and from the resulting corner, it was 3-0.
Foley swung it in and Briggs had two stabs at it before the ball was diverted past the defenders on the line by the head of Teasdale.
That virtually wrapped up the three points for the Mariners, but there was to be no let up.
Whickham continued to battle hard, but they were almost caught out again two minutes before the break when a ball through found Phillips, and he hit it just over the top.
As the half ticked into stoppage time, Foley tried to catch Curran out at his near post, but the Whickham goalkeeper was alert to the danger as he punched to safety. The ball was eventually played back in, and Ramsey’s impressive volley was well kept out by Curran.
In the second half, it was much of the same, and Hassan scored his first goal for the club on 52 minutes when his header from Foley’s corner hit the post before being adjudged to have crossed the line.
Shields went close twice in quick succession soon after, with Foley and Phillips both denied, while King was able to make some changes, with Julio Arca, Byrne and Danny Carson the players introduced from the bench.
The Mariners continued to press for a fifth goal, and a ball over the top by Carson found Briggs, whose excellent lobbed effort was not far off target.
Teasdale headed a pinpoint Arca cross wide and Byrne chipped one over before the Shields striker did get himself on the scoresheet with eight minutes left.
Arca played a pass over the top and with the Whickham defence back-pedalling, Byrne took advantage, touching the ball round the goalkeeper before rolling it home with his left foot.
The closest Whickham came was three minutes before the end when an impressive free-kick from Mark Fitzpatrick rattled the crossbar, while at the other end, Teasdale had an opportunity for a hat-trick, but curled over.
The damage had long been done by then, though, as Shields got back on track in the league. They will hope to move further ahead at the top by winning maximum points at Darlington RA on Tuesday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young, Smith, Grey, Hassan, Riding, Briggs, Foley (Arca 56), Scroggins (c), Ramsey (Byrne 57), Teasdale, Phillips (Carson 61). Subs not used: Pocklington, Sakr.
Goals: Scroggins (14), Teasdale (30, 36), Hassan (52), Byrne (82).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.