South Shields 4-0 Brandon United
By Daniel Prince
David Molloy fired a 12-minute hat-trick as South Shields stormed to a 4-0 win over Brandon United in the Ebac Northern League Division Two on Saturday.
All of Shields’ goals came after half-time at Peterlee, as Jon King’s side recorded their first win of the new season.
Captain Barrie Smith was the other Mariners player on the scoresheet as he netted for the second time in three games from the penalty spot.
Within 25 seconds, they had a strong appeal for a penalty, but the referee opted not to blow for a foul after Lewis Herron went down under the challenge of Colin White.
John Harrison also saw a low shot held by Shields goalkeeper Brett Wilson on 14 minutes, before the hosts were forced to replace Aron Burn with David Halliday after the defender suffered a hamstring injury.
Brandon had another claim for a penalty – this time for handball – waved away two minutes later, while Mark Swindle was denied by Wilson after a long-range effort.
Shields’ first real sight of goal came on 21 minutes, but Molloy’s shot from inside the box on the left went over.
The Mariners were starting to impose themselves on Brandon, but the pitch at Peterlee – which was cut longer than usual – was causing some problems.
Wilson – whose suspension for his midweek red card at Ryhope CW has yet to kick in – was impressive when called upon against Brandon, and produced a fine save with his legs to deny Craig Roberts on the half-hour mark.
Brandon goalkeeper Cameron Metcalfe, meanwhile, blocked Andy Renton’s shot at the other end after doing well to close the angle.
Wilson made a similar save on 38 minutes to prevent Roberts opening the scoring, as he got a strong hand on the shot to divert it wide.
The sides went in level at the break, but Shields suffered another injury blow when Lee Maitland was forced off with a thigh injury at half-time.
Midweek match-winner James Talbot replaced him, and within two minutes of the second half getting under way, the Mariners almost took the lead.
A brilliant run from Renton on the left resulted in the winger pulling the ball back for Molloy, and his low shot was palmed wide by Metcalfe.
Brandon remained dangerous, and a shot across goal by George McCain went not too far wide, although Wilson seemed to have it covered.
Molloy continued to threaten at the other end, and a shot from 25 yards went just past the post before he narrowly failed to convert a cross from the left.
Shields captain Smith played a key role at the back to stop a swift Brandon break, which looked set to leave one of their attackers through on goal. He slid in, and from then it was all Shields.
Molloy showed great work-rate to charge down the clearance of visiting goalkeeper Metcalfe, and the ball ricocheted off the forward before rolling into the net on 64 minutes.
Brandon appealed in vain for handball, and within two minutes were another goal behind when the referee blew for a penalty after a handball by Lee Tinkler in the box.
Smith stepped up to take it, and just as he did at Willington last week, he scored. Metcalfe got a hand to his low effort, but could not prevent it hitting the net.
The Mariners now looked menacing every time they went forward, and went three goals to the good on 70 minutes.
Substitute Abu Salim played a through ball into the path of Molloy, who beat his man before calmly rolling the ball past Metcalfe and into the bottom corner.
His hat-trick was completed six minutes later after a Brandon defender was robbed of possession, with the Shields man dribbling the ball to the left and then firing into the bottom corner.
It could have been an even more comfortable win for King’s men, with Renton sending a shot not far over and Molloy just failing to get on the end of a Talbot cross.
At the other end, Brandon had two glorious chances to get a consolation. Declan Lavery hooked an acrobatic shot just over, while a forward sent an effort just wide with the last kick of the game.
Shields had by then already got their just rewards for a fine second half display, and now travel to Wednesday’s game at Northallerton Town (7.45pm kick-off) full of confidence.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Wilson, Locke, Feasey, Burn (Halliday 15), White (Salim 68), Maitland (Talbot 46), Stephenson, Smith (c), Ramsey, Molloy, Renton. Subs not used: Sharp, Houshby.
Goals: Molloy (64, 70, 76), Smith (pen 66).