South Shields made it 14 goals in three games as they comfortably won 4-1 at Crook Town in their penultimate pre-season friendly.
Although it may not have been the Mariners’ finest performance so far, they still had more than enough to defeat their Northern League Division Two opponents at Millfield.
The match saw Shields return to the scene of one of last season’s great triumphs, having sealed the Division Two title at Crook with a 4-0 victory, sparking joyous celebrations.
While this may have been a more low-key affair, it was still another vital run-out for Shields, and the game was injected with moments of real quality – including a tremendous 30-foot lob by David Foley to all but seal the win.
It was Crook who had started the better of the two teams, and two efforts went just wide early on as they almost took the lead.
However, the Mariners got the breakthrough on 20 minutes when Julio Arca and Foley combined to play in a trialist, who did brilliantly to dink the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Shields still couldn’t get their rhythm going after that, and another good chance went begging for the hosts when a close-range effort went over.
However, the Mariners gradually started to take control, with Arca, Robert Briggs, Dillon Morse and Foley all getting decent efforts in before the half-time whistle.
After the break, Shields were much-improved, and almost went two up within 60 seconds of the restart when Barrie Smith – who was brought on at half-time for his first appearance of pre-season – poked a shot wide.
He went close again soon after, while an impressive Arca delivery from the right was glanced onto the post as the visitors continued to threaten.
A second goal felt inevitable, and it arrived on 58 minutes in some style when Foley picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, spotted the goalkeeper off his line and lifted it over him and into the net.
A Shields trialist hit a free-kick narrowly wide soon after, and goal number three arrived following some impressive play by the same player as he carried the ball around the goalkeeper before waiting for his opportunity and slotting home.
Within two minutes, it was 4-0, with this time the first goalscorer netting his second as he touched in a near-post delivery.
Crook pulled a goal back nine minutes before the end with a deflected effort, and could have scored again soon after when a glorious chance was headed wide in front of goal.
Craig Baxter and Smith went close in the latter stages to adding a fifth Shields goal, but the Mariners again settled for four goals at Millfield, three months after their 4-0 victory there in the league.
On Saturday, Shields face their final pre-season friendly when they make the short trip to Boldon CA for a 2pm kick-off in the Sam Bartram Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael (Trialist 46), Baxter, Phillips (Turner 43), Morse (Storey 46), Riding (Morse 69), Arca (c) (Briggs 69), Trialist (Wade 69), Wade (Smith 46), Trialist, Briggs (Scroggins 46), Foley.
Goals: Trialist (20, 70), Foley (58), Trialist (68).