First half goals from Carl Finnigan and Dillon Morse guided South Shields into the third qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy as they defeated a spirited Hyde United side 2-1 at Mariners Park.
The result was a fifth consecutive victory for the upwardly mobile Mariners, who were deserving of their win.
They had been pegged back in the first half by a Hyde equaliser, but wrestled back control before half-time and saw the game out well in the closing stages.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton were dealt a blow on the eve of the game as David Foley was ruled out with a knock picked up in training.
Finnigan – returning from a two-match suspension – took Foley’s place in the starting line-up and led a fine opening to the game from the Mariners.
They dominated possession and probed for the breakthrough before Finnigan provided it in style on 12 minutes.
He jinked his way past two defenders outside the area before bringing the ball forward and slamming it into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.
Hyde gradually became more effective and they threatened an equaliser with a clever corner routine which led to a shot from an unmarked Tom Pratt being deflected wide.
Shields looked the more potent outfit, though, and almost doubled their lead when a sublime flick by Finnigan on the right provided Craig Baxter with an opportunity to score his second goal in as many weeks, but goalkeeper Peter Crook kept out his low effort.
Hyde countered and almost shocked their hosts with an equaliser when a drive from Pratt was brilliantly tipped over by Liam Connell in the Shields goal.
The Mariners’ reprieve was short-lived as a Janni Lipka corner dropped into the six-yard box before being bundled in by Jordan Fagbola.
Hyde continued to be competitive as they showcased some of the play which helped them beat Shields 4-1 in the league the previous month.
Shields stuck to their task and produced some football which was extremely pleasing on the eye, notably when a fine move led to a cross by Blair Adams which Josh Gillies hit wide.
At the other end, Connell closed the angle well to deny Jerome Wright on the left of the box.
The Mariners were soon to reclaim their lead, though.
Finnigan played a free-kick short to Gillies 35 yards from goal and he whipped in a tremendous cross from the left which Morse guided in with his head at the back post.
Nathan Lowe had two half-opportunities to double Shields’ lead, but both efforts went wide of the post.
The Mariners pressed on in the second half and Lee Mason – who held the ball up superbly throughout the game – thrashed a shot which swerved not far wide within two minutes of the restart.
Lowe also saw an effort from range parried by Crook, but Shields’ bright start to the second half was almost thwarted in the 52nd minute.
Wright got to a loose ball first and sent a low shot towards goal which Adams scrambled to clear off the line, before captain Jon Shaw cleared another effort from Wright which was destined to drop in.
Connell saved smartly from Pratt later in the half as Hyde continued to pose a threat, while Connor Simpson fired wide from long range.
The closest Shields came to extending their advantage was 16 minutes from the end when Crook’s clearance fell to Finnigan 25 yards from goal and his attempted chip just failed to beat the goalkeeper.
Shields breathed a sigh of relief in the 87th minute as Pratt skewed a presentable opportunity wide, and that was to prove the final sighter of goal for the visitors.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Gillies (Harmison 64), Briggs, Finnigan, Lowe (Mouanda 77), Mason (Cogdon 86). Subs not used: Brown, Lough.
Goals: Finnigan (12), Morse (31).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.