South Shields won their third trophy of a remarkable season with an emphatic 5-0 victory over North Shields in the League Cup final.
The Mariners were rampant at Hillheads, with Gavin Cogdon netting a hat-trick, while Jon Shaw and Carl Finnigan were also on the scoresheet.
The win saw Shields add the League Cup to the Northern League Division One and Durham Challenge Cup titles they had already secured this season, and set them up perfectly for the trip to Wembley for the FA Vase final.
It also sealed the Mariners’ first success in the League Cup since 2010, when they beat Ashington on penalties in the final, and was the biggest margin of victory seen in the final of the competition for 58 years.
It had been expected to be a tight contest as the two former league title rivals went head-to-head, but South Shields almost immediately got on top of their opponents to set the tone.
The Robins, though, created the first half opportunity, with Liam Connell called into action to parry an effort from Dan Wilson which never looked like troubling the goalkeeper.
Less than five minutes were on the clock when Cogdon broke the deadlock.
After captain Julio Arca – back in the team after serving a two-match suspension for his red card in last month’s league fixture between the sides – won the ball in the middle, Cogdon got hold of it 25 yards out. There was only one thing on his mind, and he unleashed a dipping effort which found the bottom of the net.
The Mariners kept their foot on the gas, and got their rewards.
In the 13th minute, Shaw made a great run across the six-yard box to get on the end of an in-swinging corner by Alex Nicholson, and his deft header had enough on it to squirm past North Shields goalkeeper Kyle Hayes and double the South Shields advantage.
As they have done on numerous occasions in big matches this season, the Mariners had enjoyed a dream start, and the outcome did not appear to be in any danger.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Carl Finnigan had an effort deflected narrowly wide as South Shields threatened to run riot.
The Robins were struggling to make much of an impression going forward, but sparked into life just before the half-hour mark when a fine move led to an effort from Stuart Donnison which went wide.
The Mariners looked the more likely team to score next, and knew another goal would all but seal a third trophy of the season.
Their moment arrived when the tireless Finnigan won the ball midway inside the North Shields half and his flicked pass took a deflection before going beyond the defence. Cogdon looked unlikely to get to it, but showed superb desire to outpace his marker and then nudge the ball past Hayes and into the bottom corner.
He could have had a first half hat-trick soon after when he was found by a ball from Arca down the left and then wriggled into a shooting position in the box, but he blasted an effort over the bar.
A half chance from distance apiece came and went before half-time as the Mariners maintained their healthy advantage.
North Shields needed a huge – and swift – response after the break, and the signs were good for Jon McDonald’s side when they tested Connell in the first minute of the second half, with the goalkeeper holding a firm effort from Wilson.
That was not a sign of things to come, though, and almost immediately, South Shields worked a decent opening of their own before Cogdon had an attempt blocked.
Arca curled a free-kick not far past the post before the Mariners were handed a golden opportunity for goal number four.
Barrie Smith’s pass was touched past defender Kevin Hughes by Finnigan, who raced onto the loose ball himself and got there before Hayes, who dived at his feet and gave away a penalty.
Cogdon tucked the spot-kick into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick and claim his 30th goal of the season as the final started to become a rout.
The period following the fourth goal was something of a procession as the Mariners kept possession and seemed content to just wait for any further opportunities which came their way.
The fifth goal arrived almost out of nothing. Smith moved the ball on to Finnigan 25 yards out, and he looked up before sending a swerving effort into the bottom corner to bring up his 30th goal of the campaign in stunning fashion.
In what have become familiar scenes this season, champagne was sprayed and the trophy was held aloft as South Shields’ remarkable season reached another high.
There is just one challenge remaining. All roads lead to Wembley on May 21.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Lough, Shaw (Petrache 78), Storey, Arca (c), Smith, Phillips (Briggs 44), Cogdon, Stephenson (Foley 64), Finnigan. Sub not used: Richardson.
Goals: Cogdon (5, 33, pen 56), Shaw (13), Finnigan (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields made it a trophy double with a 2-0 victory over Billingham Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup.
Goals either side of half-time by Andrew Stephenson and David Foley delighted the huge Mariners following at Victoria Park as the Mariners added to the Northern League title they sealed last month.
It was Shields’ seventh Durham Challenge Cup triumph, and their first since 1977, but with two cup finals yet to come, celebrations after the game were kept in check.
Synthonia had a decent opening to the game, without significantly threatening the Shields goal.
Robert Briggs had curled an early effort wide for the Mariners, while at the other end, Macaulay Langstaff’s powerful shot from 25 yards was well blocked by Darren Lough.
The longer the first half went on, the more dominant in possession the Mariners became, with Stephenson in particular proving to be a constant threat.
After beating his man inside and out on one occasion, Stephenson clipped the ball just wide, while Robert Briggs also went close when his strike from distance took a deflection and was tipped over.
Gavin Cogdon had a golden opportunity eight minutes before the break when Stephenson played him in, but skied his shot as the wait for the breakthrough went on.
Another effort from the frontman drew a decent save by Jack McLaren as Shields kept their foot on the gas, and they finally netted five minutes before half-time.
Wayne Phillips drove towards goal on the inside left of the box and fizzed a low ball in which was half cleared to Stephenson, who sent it first time into the bottom of the net.
There could have been another goal before the break, but after another Stephenson pass, Cogdon was denied by McLaren, who could only watch as Foley fired the rebound over.
Foley took just two minutes in the second half to get on the scoresheet at his former home ground.
The ex-Hartlepool United frontman pounced at the back post for his 33rd goal of the season after a miscue from Michael Richardson, following a fine run and pass by Alex Nicholson.
Richardson curled a shot just past the post himself soon after as Shields kept up the pressure, while another effort from the midfielder was tipped wide by McLaren.
In the closing stages, there were numerous chances for the Mariners to add to the scoring, and the closest they came was when substitute Carl Finnigan had an effort kicked away by McLaren, who also kept out the rebound from Foley.
A clean sheet was comfortably secured by Shields as they added to the Northern League title they picked up last month.
This was not a time for huge celebrations, though – the Mariners still have two cup finals to come, starting with their encounter with North Shields in the League Cup on Saturday.
Shields very much hope that it’s a case of two down, two to go.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Callaghan, Briggs, Shaw (c), Lough, Stephenson (Smith 69), Phillips (Holden 80), Cogdon (Finnigan 62), Richardson, Foley. Sub not used: Storey.
Goals: Stephenson (40), Foley (47).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Northern League champions South Shields capped off a superb league campaign as they won 3-2 at Guisborough Town.
The Mariners lifted the league trophy after the game, which they won thanks to goals from Jordan Blinco, Barrie Smith and Carl Finnigan.
Despite a host of changes being made to the starting line-up, that didn’t seem to affect Shields as they ended the season on 108 points and set themselves up nicely for three cup finals.
For Guisborough, meanwhile, the defeat meant relegation to Northern League Division Two, barring a reprieve should only two teams be relegated as a result of the Mariners’ promotion.
However Saturday’s game went, a party atmosphere was a certainty as an estimated 750 travelling supporters descended on Guisborough, just four days after the Mariners had sealed the title.
For once, the result was not paramount, but with places in the team for the Durham Challenge Cup, League Cup and FA Vase finals up for grabs, there was never any danger of Shields taking their foot off the gas.
A line-up showing eight changes from the team which beat Ashington on Tuesday took just 100 seconds to take the lead.
Harrison Scott, making his debut at right-back, did well on the flank before playing the ball into the feet of Blinco. His lay-off was intercepted by home defender Matthew Lovatt, but the ball broke back to him and his first-time effort from 20 yards found its way under home goalkeeper James Dawson.
With Guisborough battling to avoid relegation, Shields’ early goal was never likely to kill their threat or desire, and they showed good spirit to force their way back into the game.
Ben Hugill had their first sight of goal, but his shot from the edge of the box was easily held by Pete Jameson.
Jameson was beaten on 14 minutes, though, as Guisborough equalised. A ball was floated in from the left by David Onions and the dangerous Steven Roberts nipped in behind to nudge the ball home.
On the rare occasions Shields have suffered adversity this season, they have generally responded swiftly, so it should have been no surprise to see them retake the lead less than three minutes later.
Anthony Callaghan brought the ball forward from the left and played it to Blinco, who showed good strength to hold off his marker before breaking free and finding Smith in space. The long-serving midfielder took a touch and then hammered a shot into the bottom corner from the inside-right of the box to break his duck for the season.
Roberts always looked the home side’s biggest threat, and he tested Jameson with a free-kick which had to be tipped over.
Shields became more and more dominant the longer the first half went on, and a number of good opportunities came and went.
Smith dragged a shot wide from 20 yards, Robert Briggs had a free-kick tipped over and then Darren Holden went the closest of all, firing an effort against the post as the Mariners tried to make their pressure count.
Blinco also went close before the break, but his low curler from outside the area went just past the post.
After half-time, things were more even as the Priorymen tried to secure Division One status.
They went close to equalising when Gary Wood found himself in space on the left of the box, but Jameson denied him with his feet.
Shields themselves almost scored when Blinco got in behind on the right and pulled the ball across the box for Finnigan, but Guisborough scrambled to safety and created a chance themselves on the counter-attack, with Louis Goldsack volleying over.
Onions also directed a decent opportunity wide, while Anthony Snook was unfortunate not to level the scores when his piledriver from 30 yards was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Jameson.
The Mariners were having to withstand some pressure, and responded by introducing David Foley from the bench. His pace would prove to have a decisive impact.
Within five minutes of his introduction, he had burst through on the right after being found by fellow substitute Michael Richardson, and when he played the ball low into the area, Finnigan made no mistake as it became 3-1.
That all but killed off Guisborough hopes, and Shields looked likely to add to the scoring before the end of the 90 minutes.
Foley hit an effort inches wide after again getting in behind on the right, while Finnigan had a header saved from a Briggs free-kick.
The hosts did not allow their heads to drop, though, and pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Goldsack met a cross from the right with his head, and diverted it beyond the reach of Jameson.
There was no time left for Guisborough to force their way back into contention, though, and the final whistle soon went to signal the end of a hugely successful league campaign for the Mariners.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Jameson, Scott (Richardson 45+5), Callaghan, Briggs, Petrache (Lough 82), Storey, Smith (c), Holden, Finnigan, Stephenson, Blinco (Foley 71). Subs not used: Connell, Phillips.
Goals: Blinco (2), Smith (17), Finnigan (76).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.