South Shields 9 VS 1 Tow Law Town
South Shields were in stunning form as they knocked nine goals past Tow Law Town in front of a record Northern League Division Two crowd of 1,412 at Mariners Park.
The game was in real doubt due to heavy rainfall in the days prior to it, but an army of volunteers helped to get the pitch playable by working on it.
And they were rewarded with an incredible performance from the Mariners as they recorded their 17th consecutive victory.
After Shields fell behind, David Foley notched a hat-trick and captain Leepaul Scroggins was on the scoresheet twice, while there were further goals from Warren Byrne, Adam Sakr, Daryll Hall and Julio Arca in front of a jubilant home crowd.
Tow Law had started the game superbly, though, and took the lead after just 80 seconds. Former Mariner Adam Burnicle showed good footwork to work an opening before placing the ball past Scott Pocklington to stun the home crowd.
The visitors continued to impress in the early stages, and two terrific Scroggins tackles saved Shields before Burnicle sliced a shot over.
Pocklington also kept out an effort from Adam Knowles, and the Mariners were stung into action.
They were brought level on 11 minutes when some fine work in the centre from Byrne released Foley down the left, and the former Hartlepool United frontman dribbled into the box, beat his man and then brought the ball inside before slamming it into the top corner from an acute angle.
The result appeared in little doubt after that as Shields were relentless in their pursuit of more goals.
Visiting goalkeeper Thomas Orton pushed away a shot from the impressive Robert Briggs, who later headed wide, while at the other end, a chance went begging when Adrian Bailey failed to control the ball in the area.
Foley lifted a shot over from 25 yards and Arca placed a shot not far wide, while the former Sunderland midfielder also had a header tipped wide.
It appeared just a matter of time before Jon King's side went in front, and Byrne was the next man to be denied as Orton kept out his shot.
On 28 minutes, the floodgates opened as Foley added his second.
Briggs conjured an opening for himself on the right of the box and then expertly pulled the ball back to Foley, who shot low into the centre of the net.
Within two minutes, it was 3-1 when Byrne met a low Adam Sakr cross with his head, directing the ball into the opposite corner.
The fourth goal was added almost immediately from the restart as the ball was slotted through for Foley, who made no mistake as he clinically finished it off.
Byrne almost continued the scoring streak when he was played in on goal, but when he tried to pull it back onto his left foot, the chance went and a tackle was made.
Briggs and Byrne were the next to produce fine build-up play as they released Foley for what looked set to be his fourth, but Orton got in the way of his effort.
Foley then curled a terrific ball through for Sakr, who rounded the goalkeeper and was forced to shoot from a tight angle, and hit the post.
Byrne, Arca and Briggs all went close as Shields went in at half-time with a 4-1 lead which could have been even greater.
At half-time, there were gasps in the crowd as the record attendance for the division was confirmed, and after the break, the Mariners continued where they left off.
As they did in the first half, Tow Law were impressive at the start of the second period, and Craig Barker clipped a shot wide early on.
That only delayed the Shields onslaught, and Scroggins went close when his effort was deflected not far past the post.
Briggs also headed over from an Arca cross, and there were then an incredible few moments as the Mariners three times went close to goal number five.
Byrne had a shot saved by Orton, Briggs' effort was blocked on the goal-line and then a superb low cross from the right was narrowly missed by Briggs as he slid in.
On 53 minutes, though, the fifth goal arrived when Briggs laid the ball off to Scroggins 25 yards out, and his pure strike arrowed into the bottom corner.
Byrne continued to be frustrated in pursuit of his second goal, and his latest near miss came when he twisted and turned inside the box before shooting narrowly over.
The next to go close was Foley as he brought the ball inside from the left and then curled a shot just past the post.
At the other end, Michael Calvert failed to convert a rare Tow Law chance, while Arca curled a free-kick just over from an acute angle for the Mariners.
The relentless attacking from Shields continued, and Scroggins had another effort deflected wide before Arca's corner was clawed away by Orton.
Sakr's shot was deflected wide, Foley's bullet of an effort was tipped over and Sakr had another attempt touched just past the post.
The almost inevitable sixth goal came when Foley curled in a superb corner which was directed straight onto the head of Hall, who sent it into the corner.
Sakr added his name to the scoresheet almost immediately afterwards when Andrew Bulford's shot was deflected into his path and he rifled the ball home.
Tow Law had some half chances, but Arca added further gloss to the scoreline on 90 minutes when he superbly placed the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The scoring appeared to be done, but there was still time for goal number nine when Foley's corner was headed in by Scroggins.
It completed a tremendous afternoon at Mariners Park as Shields stayed ahead of the pack in Ebac Northern League Division Two in front of an incredible crowd.
Their next test is next Saturday, when they travel to Consett in the FA Vase for a 3pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Curry, Hall, Galpin, Arca, Sakr (Wightman 76), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Bulford 65), Briggs (Ramsey 73), Foley. Subs not used: Young, Turner.
Goals: Foley (11, 28, 31), Byrne (30), Scroggins (53, 90+1), Hall (73), Sakr (75), Arca (90).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.