South Shields were eliminated from the League Cup at the first round stage as Morpeth Town ran out 4-1 winners at Mariners Park.
Morpeth were clinical and their experience told in front of a crowd of almost 1,000.
Shields joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton opted to make a number of changes with Saturday’s huge FA Cup tie with Stockport County looming large.
Academy prospects Tom Bexton, Lewis Orrell and Arron Thompson were handed their competitive first-team debuts, while there were also first appearances of the season for Brendan Pearson, Callum Guy, Karl Ross and substitutes Dan Lowther and Lee Mason.
Shields will have seen the match as a useful learning experience for some of the club’s brightest talents and valuable for those first-team players in need of minutes on the pitch.
Morpeth were close to full strength and took the lead in spectacular fashion as former Shields defender Iulian Petrache let fly from 35 yards and picked out the top corner with a stunning strike.
Sean Taylor had a chance to make it two before the half-hour mark, but skewed his effort wide from close range.
Shields’ best effort in the first half was a free-kick from Dan Wright a minute before the break, but goalkeeper Dan Lowson did well to hold it.
Morpeth doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when a cross from the left bounced in the area and was blasted into the roof of the net by another former Shields man, Adam Burnicle.
The Mariners came quickly out of the blocks in the second half and got an early reward when Gavin Cogdon blasted in a low free-kick from the edge of the box.
They went on to have their best spell of the game and had a number of half chances to equalise.
Cogdon had a shot deflected wide, Dan Lowther’s effort from a tight angle was saved and two attempts from the edge of the box were blocked.
Morpeth were always dangerous, though, and almost restored their two goal advantage when substitute Liam Henderson was played in on the inside right of the box and his effort cannoned against the post via the hand of Liam Connell, who had been brought on midway through the first half after Pearson was withdrawn injured.
Morpeth did make it 3-1 with 14 minutes left thanks to a superb individual effort from substitute Ben Sayer, who showed fine footwork before firing a brilliant effort into the top corner from 20 yards.
Chris Hunter had a shot blocked as Shields looked to pull one back but Morpeth completed the scoring in stoppage time to give the scoreline a harsh look for the Mariners.
Again it was Sayer on the scoresheet as he finished coolly from close range.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pearson (Connell 27), Hunter, Lough, Thompson, Bexton, Brown (c), Guy (Lowther 61), Ross, Cogdon (Mason 77), Orrell, Wright. Subs not used: Adams, Mouanda.
Goal: Cogdon (48).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.