South Shields 5 VS 0 West Auckland Town
David Foley continued his excellent scoring form with another four goals as South Shields dismantled West Auckland Town to make it 16 wins in a row.
Foley took his tally to 25 for the season with his third four-goal haul of the season, while Robert Briggs was also on target at Mariners Park in a 5-0 victory.
The result kept Shields second in Northern League Division One as they aim to maintain a challenge in four competitions.
Shields took the best part of half an hour to truly get into their stride against West, despite Carl Finnigan hitting the bar early on with a header when he got on the end of a Briggs free-kick from the left.
Julio Arca also went close as his free-kick from just outside the box looked set for the bottom corner before being pushed away by goalkeeper Lewis Graham.
Once the breakthrough came for the Mariners, though, there was no stopping them.
It arrived when Michael Richardson teased in a low delivery from the left which went behind the West defenders, allowing Foley to turn the ball home at the back post.
That was the signal for a Shields onslaught, with Richardson missing two big chances to put them further ahead moments later, first having an effort blocked before sending his second bite of the cherry over the bar.
They didn’t have to wait too much longer, though, with Richardson laying the ball off to Briggs on the edge of the box, before he curled a terrific effort into the corner of the net for his 14th goal of the season.
Five minutes before the break, the points were as good as secured when Dillon Morse headed a Briggs corner towards goal, and Foley was there to hook the ball over Graham.
Arca almost added his name to the scoresheet before the break when he played a short corner routine and advanced into the box, but his rasping effort was tipped over by Graham.
Foley completed his hat-trick 11 minutes into the second half after some brilliant one-touch play involving Richardson and Finnigan, who squared the ball for the in-form frontman to stroke into an empty net.
Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell was rarely called into action, but made an eye-catching save just after the hour mark from former Mariners midfielder Andrew Brown, whose shot from distance was destined for the top corner before being tipped over.
The Mariners then stepped through the gears again.
They had numerous chances for goal number five, perhaps the best of which fell to Briggs, who could only shoot over after being well found by Finnigan.
Richardson had a similar opportunity deflected over, while Arca fired narrowly over after some good play on the right.
Finnigan looked certain to get himself a deserved goal when he was found by a defence-splitting pass from Foley, but as he went to round Graham, the goalkeeper stuck out a hand and managed to get the ball under control.
Graham also saved from Foley and could only watch on as Darren Holden narrowly failed to get on the end of a cross from fellow substitute Alex Nicholson as the game ticked into its closing stages.
The goalkeeper was equal to further efforts from Foley and Briggs as it looked like Shields may have to settle for 4-0.
With three minutes left, the fifth goal finally did come when Shields played out from the back and worked the ball down the right flank, where Craig Baxter’s cross was flicked by Finnigan to Foley, who found the bottom corner for his 23rd goal in his last 13 starts.
The Mariners remain 11 points behind leaders North Shields with three games in hand, after the Robins won 2-1 at Penrith on Saturday.
South Shields are back in action on Wednesday, when they travel to Newcastle Benfield in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Nicholson 72), Callaghan, Lough, Morse, Arca (c) (Holden 69), Smith, Briggs, Finnigan, Richardson (Phillips 71), Foley. Subs not used: Parkin, Shaw.
Goals: Foley (30, 40, 56, 87), Briggs (37).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.