Stalybridge Celtic 0 VS 2 South Shields
A quickfire first half double from strike pair Jason Gilchrist and Jon Shaw sealed a 2-0 win for South Shields as they progressed in the Buildbase FA Trophy at the expense of Stalybridge Celtic.
Gilchrist and Shaw struck within the first 16 minutes as the Mariners got the upper hand quickly in the first qualifying round tie.
Stalybridge battled well in the second half as they searched for a route back into the game, but were unable to breach the Shields backline as another clean sheet was recorded.
The Mariners can now look forward to a second qualifying round tie at home to AFC Rushden and Diamonds.
Shields started brightly at Bower Fold and got their reward in the 10th minute.
Nathan Lowe picked up the ball midway inside the Stalybridge half and slotted a superb ball through for Gilchrist, who brought it onto his left foot before forcing a shot under home goalkeeper Alex Fojticek.
Lowe went close to adding his name to the scoresheet himself when he was teed up on the edge of the box before his goalbound effort was deflected wide.
From the resulting corner, the Mariners did double their lead.
Robert Briggs curled in a delivery from the right and after the hosts failed to clear, Shaw thumped the ball into the top corner as he marked his return to the team following an injury with a goal.
Shields were pressing brilliantly and showcasing some of their best football of the season to date.
Gilchrist had a good chance to make it three in the 21st minute when Lowe floated in a terrific cross from the right, but his header was straight at Fojticek.
He was denied a second again six minutes before half-time as he got on the end of a ball over the top from Briggs before Fojticek closed down the angle well and smothered his shot.
The second half was a different story as Stalybridge showed a marked improvement, and they created their first opportunity two minutes after the restart as Darius Osei powered in behind on the left before squaring the ball for Scott Bakkor, who fired wide.
The home side had an even better chance moments later when a Myles Boney clearance cannoned against Osei and fell to Craig Hobson, who snatched at his effort as the ball went over the bar.
At the other end, the closest Shields came to extending their lead was a powerful shot from the edge of the box by Lowe which just cleared the crossbar.
Stalybridge almost halved their deficit in the 63rd minute as Hobson’s header from a corner hit the bar, and they went close again as a Declan Walker free-kick from 20 yards flashed wide.
Shields slowly gained control again as they saw the game out effectively to seal their place in the second qualifying round.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull (Baxter 46), Morse, Brown, Thurston, Briggs, Gilchrist (Odelusi 81), Lowe, Shaw (c) (Mason 67). Subs not used: Charlton, Coombe, Wokoma.
Goals: Gilchrist (10), Shaw (16).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Jak Lewis.