South Shields 3-0 Staveley MW: Mariners into FA Vase fourth round
South Shields progressed to the fourth round of the Buildbase FA Vase after seeing off the challenge of a resilient Staveley Miners Welfare side at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Debutant Michael Richardson netted a first half brace before Robert Briggs wrapped up a deserved 3-0 victory with his 11th goal of the season with 15 minutes left.
Shields will find out their fourth round opponents when the draw is made on Monday lunchtime.
With loanee Adam Wrightson ineligible for the game, Richardson was given his first taste of action for the Mariners from the start.
Shields quickly took control of possession, but Staveley were game opponents and did well to restrict clear-cut opportunities in the opening stages.
Carl Finnigan had a header saved by visiting goalkeeper Lewis Naylor, and the closest the Mariners came early on was when the sharp David Foley cut inside from the right and fired a low shot just wide.
Staveley attacks were rare, but Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell was called into action when a quick break from the visitors led to a cross from the left which was headed goalwards by Steven Carty. Connell did well to hold the effort.
Shields started to gather momentum after that, with Dillon Morse going close to putting them in front when his header was brilliantly saved by Naylor with his feet.
Foley got in behind on the inside-left of the box soon after, but when he pulled the ball across goal, it went just behind his team-mates in the centre.
Julio Arca was the next to threaten, as he timed a run perfectly to get on the end of a free-kick from Briggs, but headed not far past the upright.
The breakthrough came on 25 minutes as Richardson netted.
Arca clipped a ball through the centre towards Finnigan, who did well to lay it off to Briggs just outside the box. His cross was half-cleared as far as Richardson, who rifled it into the bottom corner to start his Shields career in style.
The Mariners threatened to kill the game off in that period, with Foley seeing an effort deflected just wide, while he hit another shot not far off target before Shields had two big penalty appeals turned down following challenges on Richardson and Briggs in quick succession.
A counter-attack from the visitors led to another save by Connell from Carty, but it was mainly one-way traffic, with Foley getting in behind again, only to see Naylor push away his effort. The ball broke to Finnigan, who was denied by a block.
Although their first half performance had been strong, Shields looked set to go into the half-time break with some frustration having not extended their one-goal lead.
However, as the clock ticked onto 45 minutes, Richardson put that right.
Shields won the ball back in the opposition half and Richardson sprayed a pass through for Foley to run onto on the right of the box. He played the ball across the box, where Richardson had made a lung-busting run to meet it on the slide, and it bounced beyond the line via the post.
Less than a minute into the second half, Richardson almost completed a dream debut hat-trick after Arca played him in, but it was not to be as he curled not far wide.
Andrew Stephenson headed a presentable opportunity wide from a Briggs free-kick as Shields looked to put the game out of sight.
Out of nothing at the other end, substitute Tyla Bell struck the post for the visitors with a header, but less than a minute later, Richardson was again threatening goal number three.
This time it was an even better chance for his hat-trick as the ball broke to him after a Jon Shaw shot had been blocked, but he hit it just wide of the top corner from eight yards.
Staveley were not ready to exit the competition without a fight, and rallied, with Connell doing well to keep out a hooked effort from Kurtis Morley, while a scramble in the box led to the ball cannoning off the same player and going inches wide.
If that was a warning, Shields heeded it.
Briggs went close when his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and was well saved by Naylor.
Finnigan also had a decent opportunity after Foley led a Shields break and found him, but he could only shoot over.
However, the victory was finally wrapped up with 15 minutes left.
Substitute Wayne Phillips beat his defender with some impressive skill on the left before getting to the byline and chipping in a superb cross which was chested down by Finnigan to Briggs, whose backheel was parried by Naylor. The ball bounced back off Briggs and into the bottom corner to delight the home support.
Finnigan went the closest to extending the lead further in the closing stages when he headed not far wide from a Briggs cross.
It was an impressive performance from Shields, who are now safely into the last 32 of the competition.
They return to Northern League Division One action on Friday, when they travel to Seaham Red Star for a 7.30pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Holden 80), Carson, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Briggs (Smith 84), Stephenson (Phillips 73), Finnigan, Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Parkin, Ramsey.
Goals: Richardson (25, 45), Briggs (75).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.