West Auckland Town 1 VS 4 South Shields
South Shields returned to winning ways with a confidence-boosting 4-1 victory at West Auckland Town.
Carl Finnigan was on target twice while David Palmer and Robert Briggs also netted in the win over the league's bottom-placed side.
Shields were without the likes of Julio Arca, Jon Shaw, David Foley and Craig Baxter, but did not let their absence affect them too much.
They were up against a West side still smarting from a 9-0 loss at Washington on Saturday, which resulted in the departure of manager Andy Campbell.
Shields quickly got on top of them, with a David Carson effort saved early on.
The visitors found the breakthrough in the 16th minute as Palmer slid a ball through for Finnigan, who swept it into the bottom corner.
Within eight minutes, the Mariners' lead was doubled when Carson curled a cracking effort off the bar and Shields kept the ball alive. Eventually, it was worked to Palmer, who hit across the goalkeeper and in off the post.
Within moments, Danny Carson almost added his name to the scoresheet, but he was denied by a superb close range save from home goalkeeper David Knight.
Shields kept West out well, with the Mariners strong defensively. Danny Carson made one fine tackle to stop a home attack.
Three minutes before half-time, the Mariners added a third goal when they were correctly awarded a penalty for handball.
Finnigan made no mistake from the spot as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
After the break, Shields continued where they had left off, and Knight made an incredible save on the goal line to deny Dillon Morse.
Finnigan also had a great chance to seal his hat-trick as he was played in on goal, but he could only shoot over.
Teenager Ewan Simpson was brought on after 55 minutes after being promoted from the reserves side.
The 18-year-old performed superbly at left-back after replacing the injured Louis Storey.
The hosts secured an unlikely route back into the game when Darren Richardson turned in a cross from the right.
However, they never appeared likely to truly threaten a comeback, with Simpson stopping their only meaningful attack with a fine block.
Briggs sealed the points once and for all with nine minutes left as he curled a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards.
Warren Byrne came closest to making it five after being brought on, but the ball eventually ran away from him after he successfully closed down the goalkeeper.
Shields remain top of the table, and take a break from league action on Saturday when they travel to Esh Winning in the FA Vase.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Danny Carson, David Carson, Morse, Storey (Simpson 55), Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Byrne 84), Finnigan (Ramsey 78), Briggs, Phillips. Subs not used: Connell, Cogdon.
Goals: Finnigan (16, pen 43), Palmer (24), Briggs (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.