South Shields 3-0 Ashton United: An impressive showing under the lights
South Shields lit up Mariners Park on a momentous occasion as Ashton United were put to the sword on Tuesday.
On a night which saw the club’s new floodlights make their debut, the Mariners played some scintillating football as they made it two wins from two in the BetVictor Northern Premier League Premier Division.
They found themselves two goals in front at half-time, with Robert Briggs having opened the scoring early on from the penalty spot before Gary Brown headed in the second late in the first half.
Jason Gilchrist wrapped things up 10 minutes from the end as Shields moved to the top of the embryonic table.
The Mariners got off to the fastest of starts and almost took the lead within the first minute, with a terrific ball over the top by Briggs met by Gilchrist, whose goalbound effort was excellently cleared.
They got their reward when Luke Daly was tripped inside the penalty area early on after some fine build-up play, and Briggs made no mistake from the spot as he stroked the ball into the goalkeeper’s bottom left corner.
Ashton had their first chance soon after, with John Pritchard heading over from a cross from the right.
But an even better opportunity arrived at the other end in the ninth minute as Gilchrist was found in the box and he brilliantly beat his man before sending the ball wide.
Both teams were reduced to efforts from distance for much of the rest of the half, until the Mariners doubled their lead four minutes before half-time.
Josh Gillies curled in a tremendous free-kick from the right which found the head of an unmarked Brown, who nodded into the ground and saw the ball bounce up and in off the post.
Ashton could have halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time as the ball broke to Joshua Wilson on the left of the area, but he crashed a shot against the post as Shields survived.
Jordan Hunter was brought on for his Mariners debut at the break as the injured Jon Shaw was replaced, and the hosts almost had their third goal within four minutes of the restart.
A Nathan Lowe effort was half-cleared as far as Gillies and he struck the loose ball goalwards, but an impressive block denied him.
Shields went closer still soon after as Gillies fired towards goal from the left of the box and his effort took a deflection to wrongfoot goalkeeper Jon Worsnop, who somehow adjusted to claw the ball inches over the bar.
Gilchrist was the latest to be denied by a block as the home side continued to create chances, before Ashton had a decent spell from the 75 minute mark.
They went close to pulling a goal back when a ball from deep on the left found Kyle Harrison at the back post and he prodded it against the post.
Shields continued to maintain their clean sheet and then made the points safe with 10 minutes left.
Patient build-up play saw Lowe released on the right of the area and he slid in a superb low cross which Gilchrist turned home from close range.
It was a comprehensive scoreline for the Mariners against a team tipped to challenge strongly for promotion this season, having been relegated from National League North last time out.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Brown, Adams, Shaw (c) (Hunter 46), Morse, Lowe, Daly (Turnbull 64), Briggs, Gilchrist, Thurston (Alli 77), Gillies. Subs not used: Charlton, Mason.
Goals: Briggs (pen 7), Brown (41), Gilchrist (80).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.