South Shields 2-0 Billingham Synthonia: Second trophy in the bag
South Shields made it a trophy double with a 2-0 victory over Billingham Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup on Wednesday.
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.