South Shields produced a second outstanding away performance in four days as they dismantled FA Vase holders Morpeth Town with a 4-0 victory.
The Mariners picked up where they left off in Wednesday’s 1-0 win at league champions Shildon as they stormed to another three points at Craik Park.
A well-taken brace from Gavin Cogdon and a header from Robert Briggs had put Shields into a commanding position at half-time, and substitute Wayne Phillips added the fourth with a superb effort in the second half as Morpeth’s 100% home record was ended.
Shields remain second in Northern League Division One, and are two points off the top following North Shields’ 3-2 loss at Jarrow Roofing.
Morpeth had gone into the game full of confidence and on a winning run of five in the league, including a 7-1 thrashing of Ryhope CW on Wednesday.
After a quiet opening to the game, though, the Mariners quickly seized control as they began to pressurise their hosts and create a hatful of chances.
The first came on 10 minutes when a Julio Arca corner was headed on by Ben Riding to Jon Shaw, who nodded over.
Riding had been introduced into the starting line-up in place of the suspended Dillon Morse, while Andrew Stephenson made his first start as he replaced Luke Hannant.
In the thrilling FA Vase tie between these two sides last season, Shields were regularly thwarted by Morpeth goalkeeper Karl Dryden, and he was again in excellent form at Craik Park.
He made a superb one-handed save to keep out a volley from Riding, while he made an incredible save later in the half when David Foley got in behind and played the ball across goal for Cogdon, who looked certain to score only to be denied by a stunning point-blank stop.
He made another fine save from Foley after he ran in on goal from the left, parrying well before the Shields man fired the rebound into the side netting.
The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute after some good build-up play, with Foley again getting in behind on the inside-right of the box. When he played the ball across goal this time, Cogdon made no mistake as he slid it home.
Dryden was doing his best to keep the home side in with a chance, and after a superb Briggs pass forward, he made a tremendous one-handed stop from Cogdon before later denying Riding.
The momentum was all with the Mariners, who extended their lead when Stephenson sprinted down the right before delivering a cross which Briggs met at the near post as he headed it past Dryden.
The three points were as good as wrapped up a minute before half-time when Stephenson did excellently to release Briggs down the right, and his low cross was finished by Cogdon as he notched his 12th goal of the season.
Moments before the break, Mark Davison’s header glanced the bar for the hosts, who were in need of a huge reaction in the second half.
Town were improved in the second 45 minutes, but Shields always seemed to have them at arm’s length.
There were half-chances at both ends, with Sean Taylor heading over for Morpeth while Briggs chipped an effort wide for the Mariners.
Phillips – who had been brought on for Foley at half-time – provided the cherry on the cake for Shields in the 70th minute as he cut inside from the left before curling a stunning right-foot shot into the top corner.
It could have been five towards the end for Graham Fenton and Lee Picton’s side when they were awarded an indirect free-kick 10 yards from goal following a backpass.
However, after the ball was touched to Briggs, he smashed an effort which was well blocked by the hosts.
The result further increased the confidence in the Shields camp, with the side now unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions.
Two more big matches follow for the Mariners this week, with a trip to Dunston UTS on Tuesday before Runcorn Linnets visit Mariners Park in the FA Vase on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Arca (Smith 74), David Carson, Shaw, Riding, Stephenson, Scroggins (c), Cogdon (Finnigan 71), Briggs, Foley (Phillips 46). Subs not used: Carmichael, Danny Carson.
Goals: Cogdon (32, 44), Briggs (39), Phillips (70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.