South Shields continued their excellent form as they beat Ryhope CW 2-0 at Mariners Park to make it seven wins in a row.
The Mariners were backed by a superb midweek crowd of 454, and goals from Andrew Bulford and Michael Turner kept them second in Northern League Division Two, moving Shields a point behind Chester-le-Street at the top.
Shields started on top and stayed there. Bulford pulled a shot wide after being played in on goal, while at the other end, Lee Chapman curled just over from distance.
Bulford broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when visiting goalkeeper Jonny Ball miscued a clearance to Adam Sakr on the right flank. The lively Shields winger reacted instantly, curling in an inch-perfect shot for Bulford, who beat Ball to it and headed into the net.
Soon after, Ball made a terrific save from a Lewis Teasdale header after he was found from a wicked Wayne Phillips free-kick.
Mariners goalkeeper Scott Pocklington kept out an effort from Nathan O’Neill, while at the other end, a superb cross from Sakr just missed Teasdale and was scrambled clear.
Shields went 2-0 up a minute before half-time when a low Turner cross from just outside the box beat everyone as it deceived Ball and trickled into the net.
The hosts began the second half as they had ended the first, with Ball doing well to hold a Daryll Hall header, while Bulford was just beaten to the ball after a cross from Teasdale.
An outstanding low cross from Turner soon after was just missed by Teasdale and then fell to Sakr, whose effort from close range was blocked by Ball.
At the other end, Pocklington stayed alert as he did terrifically to keep out a Chapman shot with his legs, but that was one of few clear-cut chances for Ryhope.
Warren Byrne was introduced from the bench for Shields on 68 minutes, and with his first touch, his header was kept out by a fantastic one-handed save by Ball after being found by Bulford.
Byrne, Jonny Wightman and Sakr were also denied before David Foley was brought on as he made his comeback from a hamstring injury, and he made a great impression in his time on the pitch.
Shields were forced to settle for 2-0 in the end, and are in good shape ahead of Saturday’s home game against Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Galpin, Turner, Hall (c), Riding, Smith, Sakr, Wightman, Bulford (Foley 79), Teasdale (Byrne 68), Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Curry, Maitland.
Goals: Bulford (20), Turner (44).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.