South Shields 5 VS 1 West Allotment Celtic
South Shields were in outstanding form as they produced a scintillating performance to thrash West Allotment Celtic 5-1.
The Mariners produced some of their best football of the season as they moved to within two points of Northern League Division One leaders North Shields.
Julio Arca was particularly impressive, with the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder scoring a superb brace.
David Carson, Carl Finnigan and David Foley were also on the scoresheet in front of a Mariners Park crowd of 903.
Joss Carmichael, Craig Baxter, Arca, David Palmer and Wayne Phillips were all brought back into Shields' starting line-up after being either on the bench or out of the squad completely for Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sunderland RCA.
From early on, they appeared in better shape than they had been against RCA, with some stunning passing football played.
A good chance went begging within the first five minutes as Finnigan headed the ball across the box, and Gavin Cogdon nodded not far over.
Cogdon had another decent opportunity two minutes later, but he shot wide from the inside left of the box.
Arca had returned from a leg injury in the second half of Saturday's game, and netted a stunning equaliser.
He picked up where he left off last night, curling in a terrific free-kick from just outside the box on the right in the 12th minute, leaving visiting goalkeeper Chris Bannon with no chance.
The Argentinean scored an even better goal on 28 minutes.
After he retrieved a deep cross from the left, he brought the ball under control before beating Bannon again with a delightful chip from an acute angle.
The Mariners kept up the pressure, and Cogdon's effort was deflected wide from the edge of the box.
Wayne Phillips and Robert Briggs were both denied by good saves from Bannon before the end of the first half.
Leepaul Scroggins and David Carson were introduced at half-time, and Shields picked up where they left off.
Within six minutes of coming on, Carson got on the scoresheet as he brought the ball inside from the left flank before driving a tremendous effort in off the post.
Arca went close to scoring a stunning hat-trick a few minutes later, beating Bannon with another terrific free-kick, only to see it come back off the bar.
Shields were in mean mood, and scored arguably the goal of the game just after the hour mark when a flowing move was lit up with a delightful flick by Robert Briggs before Palmer played in Finnigan, who finished it off with a deft chip.
West Allotment scored a consolation with 15 minutes remaining, and it was some effort, with Shaun Reay capitalising on a loose pass before firing into the top corner from distance.
The Mariners had the last word, though, and it came when a through ball played in Foley, who had been out for more than a month with a hamstring injury.
He powered past his marker and into the box before firing into the bottom corner to give Shields a four-goal margin of victory they richly deserved.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Baxter, Danny Carson (Scroggins 46), Arca (Foley 66), Morse, Shaw (c), Palmer, Briggs, Cogdon (David Carson 46), Finnigan, Phillips. Subs not used: Connell, Smith.
Goals: Arca (12, 28), David Carson (51), Finnigan (62), Foley (87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.