West Allotment Celtic 1 VS 4 South Shields
South Shields moved to within five points of leaders North Shields in Northern League Division One with a convincing 4-1 win at West Allotment Celtic.
The Mariners dominated long stretches at Whitley Park, and took the lead early on thanks to a superb strike from Jon Shaw.
However, they were pegged back before the break, and needed an own goal and a brace from David Foley to make sure of the points in the second half.
West Allotment kept them honest with a committed display as they showed the battling qualities they will need in their fight against relegation.
Goalkeeper Chris Bannon was in particularly impressive form for the home side as he kept Shields at bay on several occasions.
After watching a Robert Briggs header from a Wayne Phillips free-kick go wide in the first minute, Bannon did well to deny Shaw from close range.
He could do nothing to keep the former Gateshead striker off the scoresheet on 19 minutes, though.
Shaw collected the ball 25 yards from goal and picked out the top corner with a sumptuous strike for his third goal in two games.
Within a minute of that, Craig Hindmarch had a decent opportunity to draw Celtic level, but he could only fire over from the edge of the box.
Despite dominating the ball, Shields were unable to extend their lead.
Bannon did well to make a double save from Anthony Callaghan, while he also made a flying stop from Phillips after he cut inside from the right.
He was rewarded for his efforts two minutes before the break when a ball over the top caused problems for the Mariners, and Liam Hudson nipped in to level for the hosts.
Shields had been on the right track, and despite the blow of conceding an equaliser, continued in the same vein after half-time.
Adam Wrightson, who had a superb game on the right flank, delivered a terrific ball to the back post, but Shaw could only head over from a good position.
The Mariners were soon back in front, though, and the breakthrough arrived when Callaghan burst down the left before sending in a teasing delivery which John Pendlebury headed past his own goalkeeper.
Danny Carson almost extended the lead when his shot from distance was deflected not far wide, but Shields had to be patient for goal number three.
Substitute Julio Arca came so close to providing it when he whipped an effort from 25 yards which was destined for the top corner before being brilliantly tipped over by Bannon.
West Allotment's Dale Pearson was sent off after an off-the-ball incident with 16 minutes left, and Shields made the one-man advantage count.
Arca and Carl Finnigan combined well to release Foley through on goal, and he shrugged off his marker before finding the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
Darren Holden was unable to claim a debut goal as he headed over from a Wrightson cross, but Shields did make it four with four minutes remaining when a fantastic through ball from Carson was collected by Foley, who rounded Bannon and made no mistake.
Liam Connell made a good save from Hudson late on as the Mariners made it 13 wins from their last 14 games.
They still have a game in hand on leaders North Shields, whose advantage is now five points.
The Mariners take a break from league action on Saturday, with Staveley Miners Welfare visiting Mariners Park for an FA Vase third round tie.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Smith (Finnigan 81), Callaghan, Carson, Morse, Baxter, Wrightson, Briggs (Arca 60), Shaw (c), Foley, Phillips (Holden 70). Subs not used: Barlow, Ramsey.
Goals: Shaw (19), Own goal (52), Foley (82, 86).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.