South Shields 4-1 Esh Winning
By Daniel Prince
South Shields ended a run of 10 games without a win with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Esh Winning at Peterlee.
Once the Mariners got into their stride in the first half, there only ever looked likely to be one winner.
Top scorer Paul Kane grabbed a brace, while David Molloy also netted on his return from injury, and Aron Burn claimed his first goal for the club.
Although the win was ultimately sealed with quite a bit to spare, Shields did find themselves under pressure in the early moments at Eden Lane.
An Esh Winning through ball sent Daniel Johnson through on the left, and Mariners goalkeeper Christopher Davidson came out to try and smother the attack.
However, the referee ruled he has brought Johnson down, meaning Davidson had given away a penalty less than three minutes into his debut after signing from Horden earlier in the day.
Dean Sinclair took the spot-kick, but Davidson produced an excellent save low to his right to keep the scores level.
For most of the rest of the half, it was one-way traffic as Shields went on attack after attack.
Their first chance came within a minute of the penalty as a swift break led to a Barrie Smith cross from the right that was met by James Talbot, who was denied at close-range by Esh goalkeeper Dean Caris.
Craig Roberts had an effort blocked soon after, before the Mariners did break the deadlock in the sixth minute.
Talbot’s corner from the right was met by Burn, who nodded past the defenders on the line to grab his first goal in claret and blue.
Kane was next to go for goal, but his powerful shot from 30 yards went narrowly over, while Abu Salim saw a shot blocked by Christopher Mordue.
Salim had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 on 15 minutes.
After a great one-two with Molloy, Salim rounded the goalkeeper and looked to have done the hard part before shooting into the side netting.
A rare foray forward for Esh led to a mix-up at the back for Shields, who were punished for a backpass in the area.
The resulting indirect free-kick was smashed goalwards by Richard Addison, but Chris Feasey got in the way of the effort to keep Shields ahead. Burn headed clear from the corner that followed after a header from Sinclair.
Shields were the side much more likely to grab the next goal, though, and it arrived in the 24th minute.
Molloy played the ball through for Kane, who touched it round the goalkeeper, took his time to take aim and fired it past the despairing defenders.
Kane lifted another effort over two minutes later after a strong break led by the lively Roberts, while Anthony Phillipson saw a shot blocked at the other end by Chris Locke.
It was Molloy who killed the game off on 34 minutes.
The forward – who was making a quicker than expected return from injury – latched onto a through ball from Kane and dribbled towards the edge of the box before firing low into the corner.
Kane continued to cause problems for the visitors, and his cross from the left soon after evaded everyone to find Talbot on the right of the box. He sent a powerful shot arrowing towards goal, and Luke Thompson had to make a superb goal-line clearance to keep the score down to 3-0.
Addison almost pulled one back for Esh in the last minute of the first half, but Davidson produced a fantastic one-handed save.
There was still time before the half-time whistle blew for Johnson to waste a glorious chance to get himself on the scoresheet for the away side, as he shot wide from close range.
Shields showed their intent immediately from the kick-off in the second half when Kane’s shot from the halfway line went not far wide.
Roberts had a shot saved soon after, while some fine play from him on the left led to another effort which Caris did well to hold onto.
Esh enjoyed their best spell of the game after that, and Davidson had to be alert to keep out a 40-yard effort from Ben Sanderson that swerved and dipped in the air.
Feasey produced a terrific goal-line clearance soon after to deny Sinclair, but he was injured in the process and had to be replaced by Lloyd Evans.
Kane had a free-kick deflected wide, while Mordue drilled an effort past the post at the other end.
Shields had to wait until the 77th minute for their fourth goal, and when it did come, it was no surprise Kane scored it.
Substitute Dan Hall dribbled the ball in the centre before playing Kane in on the left of the box, and he sent his shot into the opposite corner to grab his 16th goal of the season.
He was denied a third hat-trick of the campaign moments later when Caris got down to keep out a low effort.
Addison had a decent chance to grab a consolation for Esh, but skewed a shot over, while Hall headed over for Shields after a cross from Kane.
Esh got on the scoresheet with three minutes remaining when Daniel Grant got in behind the Shields defence on the right and lifted the ball over Davidson.
Hall and Salim both had chances to grab a fifth for Shields in stoppage time, but were unable to beat Caris as Esh kept the score down to 4-1.
It was a welcome three points for Shields, who moved up to 13th in Ebac Northern League Division Two ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Whickham at Peterlee.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Davidson, Stephenson, Feasey (Evans 67), Burn, Locke (c), Smith (Bell 80), Talbot, Roberts, Kane, Molloy (Hall 74), Salim. Subs not used: Sharp.
Goals: Burn (6), Kane (24, 77), Molloy (34)
ESH WINNING: Caris, Thompson, Richardson, Briden (c), Sanderson, Addison, Mordue, Clarke, Sinclair, Johnson, Phillipson. Subs (from): Field, Turnbull, Stephens, Wilson, Grant.
Goals: Grant (87).