South Shields 4-2 Dunston: Gilchrist nets hat-trick in Barrie Smith farewell
On a day when South Shields said farewell to club legend Barrie Smith, a new arrival stole the show as Jason Gilchrist scored a hat-trick in an entertaining 4-2 win over Dunston.
Smith pulled on the claret and blue shirt for one last time in the pre-season friendly and was given a tremendous reception as his nine years of superb service to the Mariners was recognised.
Shields went behind twice in the first half at Mariners Park, with a Gilchrist goal sandwiched in between.
Gilchrist scored twice more after the break, after a deflected effort from distance by Nathan Lowe had brought the home side level.
The Mariners went into the game without a number of players, with Liam Connell, Blair Adams, Jon Shaw, Phil Turnbull, Josh Gillies, Myles Boney, Craig Baxter, Callum Guy and Lee Mason all unavailable for selection.
The visitors opened the scoring in just the fourth minute as Liam Marrs sent in a teasing low cross from the right which Michael Pearson was able to nudge home in the six-yard box.
Shields threatened an equaliser when a Robert Briggs shot from 25 yards whistled over the crossbar, and gradually found their feet.
They got back on level terms on 20 minutes when Smith helped to win possession deep in the Dunston half and in the confusion which followed, the ball eventually fell to the feet of Gilchrist, who made no mistake from close range.
Smith was withdrawn to a standing ovation in the 23rd minute as fans, players and staff were given the opportunity to show their appreciation for a player who won six trophies and made over 300 appearances during his nine years with the Mariners.
Luke Daly had an opportunity to put the Mariners into the lead when he weaved his way through from the right and rounded goalkeeper Karl Dryden, but he sent his effort from a tight angle into the side netting.
Adam Thurston and Gary Brown both had attempts from distance as the game neared half-time but Dunston retook the lead four minutes before the break as Liam Brooks turned in the penalty area before picking out the bottom corner.
Shields built up some momentum early in the second half and equalised just before the hour mark when Briggs rolled a free-kick into the feet of Lowe, whose long range piledriver took a huge deflection before nestling in the opposite corner.
The Mariners went on to enjoy their best spell and almost went ahead as a sweet strike from Brown was deflected wide.
Thurston also went close with a similar effort but Shields eventually got their reward when Daly’s corner from the right was headed across the area by substitute Millenic Alli before being nodded in by Gilchrist from close range.
More chances came and went for the home side, who did double their lead in the 73rd minute as a defensive clearance fell to the feet of Gilchrist, who took the ball round Dryden before completing his hat-trick with a composed finish.
Dan Wright almost added to the scoring soon after when he got on the end of a Gilchrist cross, but his header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Smith was reintroduced with 10 minutes left to another rapturous reception and Lowe almost scored Shields’ fifth during his time on the pitch, but his effort from the edge of the box flashed wide.
Shields will complete their pre-season schedule with a trip to Ossett United next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Coombe, Smith (c) (Wokoma 23), Charlton (Lockey 80), Lowe, Morse (Trialist 67), Brown (Smith 80), Daly (Wright 73), Briggs (Thompson 67), Gilchrist, Thurston (Biwer 73), Foley (Alli 49).
Goals: Gilchrist (20, 64, 72), Lowe (59).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.