Lewis Teasdale was the hat-trick hero as South Shields won a seven-goal thriller against Thornaby in front of another four-figure crowd at Mariners Park.
Shields beat their previous season-best attendance of 1,045 as 1,115 piled into the ground to watch the Northern League Division Two leaders make it 12 victories in a row.
They were made to work for it, though, as Thornaby – who were unbeaten away from home prior to this match – took an early lead from the penalty spot, and later fought gallantly in the second half after twice falling two goals behind.
However, Teasdale’s treble, along with a header from Ben Riding, ensured the Mariners’ tremendous run of wins continued as they moved 11 points clear at the top of the table.
True to form, Shields started strongly, and Jonny Wightman’s effort from the edge of the box was deflected just past the post after 75 seconds.
Michael Turner also drilled a shot not far wide, while Leepaul Scroggins had an effort blocked.
At the other end, Thornaby fired a warning of their capabilities as the dangerous Daniel Lofts picked his way through on the right before hitting a shot at Scott Pocklington.
Shields were looking the more likely to open the scoring, though, and a ball over the top from Adam Sakr almost found Teasdale, but goalkeeper Adrian Beblowski just got there first.
It was Thornaby who took the lead when the Mariners failed to clear their lines and a shot from Jason Honeyman struck the arm of Daryll Hall. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Nathan Steel dispatched the ball into the bottom-right corner to silence the huge home crowd.
Shields regained control of the game after falling behind, and had two glorious opportunities to get back on level terms in the 19th minute.
First, a low cross from Turner was just missed by Warren Byrne, and then Adam Sakr prodded over from just five yards as the Mariners failed to convert their chances.
Teasdale then wriggled through on the left and teed up Scroggins 20 yards out, and he struck a superb shot which came back off the post.
Byrne also had a shot saved by Beblowski, but Thornaby went close to going two up when a superb delivery from the right was narrowly missed in the centre.
Shields finally got on level terms after 30 minutes when a free-kick from the right touchline by Wayne Phillips went all the way through to Riding at the back post, and he forced his header past the goalkeeper.
Riding headed another free-kick wide soon after, while Turner sent a header not far past the post and Riding also nodded over from a corner.
The sides went in level at half-time, but Shields looked even more dangerous after the break.
Phillips flashed a shot just wide from the inside-left of the box and Hall had a shot blocked before the Mariners took the lead 10 minutes into the second half.
A Phillips free-kick from the left was touched on by Riding to Teasdale, and he made no mistake as he slotted the ball past Beblowski.
Teasdale went close again as he dribbled his way through on the left before his low shot was held by Beblowski, and he notched his second of the afternoon on the hour mark.
A free-kick from Wightman on the left was diverted against the post by Riding, and Teasdale was in the right place to knock home the rebound as he continued his fine goalscoring form.
David Foley came on as a substitute and almost made it 4-1, but his header from a superb left-wing cross was excellently saved by Beblowski as Thornaby stayed in the game.
They got a stronger foothold on 68 minutes when a shot from just outside the box went through a host of bodies and deflected in off Phillips.
Teasdale immediately set about re-establishing the two-goal lead, but hit a shot narrowly wide, as did Turner from a Phillips free-kick.
Shields were given a glorious opportunity to make it 4-2 when a shot was blocked by a Thornaby hand, and Teasdale stepped up to hammer the spot-kick high down the middle as he completed his hat-trick and scored his seventh goal in seven games.
Within three minutes, the hosts’ advantage was back down to one when a cross from the right was dropped by Pocklington and fell perfectly for Lofts, who volleyed into the roof of the net.
That set up a nervous ending, but Shields restricted Thornaby going forward in the closing stages and ground out their victory as they made it 12 in a row.
They will look to notch up another win on Tuesday when they travel to Chester-le-Street Town in the Durham Challenge Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Turner, Hall, Riding, Wightman (Galpin 61), Sakr (Bulford 84), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Foley 59), Teasdale, Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Briggs.
Goals: Riding (30), Teasdale (55, 60, pen 78).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.