South Shields 3-1 Washington: Finnigan brace helps Mariners to top spot
South Shields began life under Graham Fenton and Lee Picton with a deserved 3-1 win over Washington at Mariners Park on Tuesday.
The victory moved the Mariners to the top of Northern League Division One as they leapfrogged Shildon and North Shields, who were both not in action.
It was a fifth successive victory for Shields, who played in front of a crowd of 1,164. They came out of the blocks superbly, and it took them less than five minutes to take the lead.
The breakthrough came as Julio Arca clipped a tremendous ball over the top for Carl Finnigan to run onto, and he squared the ball for Jon Shaw, who stroked it home.
It was almost one-way traffic in those early stages, but against the run of play, Washington almost levelled when striker Ash Davis broke free on the inside-left of the box and then rattled an effort against the post.
That did not alter the flow of the game, though, and Shaw was denied by a fine save from visiting goalkeeper Dale Connor, while Arca and David Palmer also had efforts kept out by the former Shields player.
Washington’s side also included former Mariners Daryll Hall and Ibby Hassan, and they went two goals down when the lively Wayne Phillips chipped a good cross into the box which Finnigan forced in with his head.
The ground was stunned, though, when the Mechanics pulled a goal back from almost nothing, with Matthew Waters sending a tremendous chip in off the bar.
Shields suffered a further blow when influential defender Ben Clark was forced off through injury, and Washington came more into the game, with Davis going close with a header.
Shaw thought he had made it 3-1 with a header from Craig Baxter’s cross, but the offside flag went up, while in the second half, Finnigan, Shaw and Phillips all went close as the Mariners pushed forward.
Shields were always in control, but struggled to kill the game off, with Robert Briggs going the closest when he had an effort brilliantly kept out by Connor.
The third goal finally arrived when David Carson ran through and then squared the ball for Finnigan to tap home seven minutes from the end.
Shields are back in action on Saturday when Ryhope CW visit Mariners Park for a 3pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Baxter, Arca, David Carson, Clark (Storey 34), Danny Carson, Palmer (Smith 74), Scroggins (c), Shaw, Finnigan, Phillips (Briggs 64). Subs not used: Connell, Morse.
Goals: Shaw (5), Finnigan (21, 83).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.