South Shields 5-1 Harrogate Town: Young Mariners reach first round again
South Shields qualified for the main draw in the FA Youth Cup for the second year running after an impressive 5-1 victory over Harrogate Town at Mariners Park on Monday.
Ben Errington and Sam Hodgson each netted twice, with Joao Gomes also on the scoresheet after firing a thunderbolt in the second half as the young Mariners booked their place in the first round.
Shields had beaten Gateshead, Carlisle City and North Shields in previous rounds and could now face a Football League club’s academy, as they did last season when they came up against Macclesfield Town and Lincoln City.
To reach round one they had to beat National League side Harrogate’s youngsters, and they did so comfortably in front of another good crowd at Mariners Park.
The margin of victory could have been greater for Jon Shaw and Wess Brown’s side, who were dominant in possession and created a hatful of chances.
They had an appeal for a penalty within the first minute when captain for the night Hodgson went down in the area, but the officials deemed no foul had been committed.
The visitors posed a threat in the early stages, with Adam Kellett seeing an effort deflected wide and Shields goalkeeper Ethan Hodgson doing well to stop a sharp shot from Gabe Hopkinson.
Once the Mariners hit their stride, though, there was no stopping them.
They opened the scoring in the 13th minute after a well-worked corner routine as Stephen Black played it short and exchanged passes with Hodgson before driving into the area and pulling the ball across goal for Errington to finish from close range.
Shields then pressurised the Harrogate defence relentlessly, with Will Jenkins whistling an effort over from 25 yards before Hodgson went close twice in a matter of minutes.
He went even closer to adding his name to the scoresheet in the 26th minute after Gomes produced some brilliant skill on the left before delivering a cross which was met first time by the striker, but his shot was palmed onto the post by visiting goalkeeper Jack Wade.
Wade also denied Jenkins but was beaten by Hodgson just before the half-hour mark, only for his curled effort to edge past the post after he was found by Black.
Hodgson continued to be frustrated by Wade as the goalkeeper made another impressive save before Shields eventually doubled their lead seven minutes before half-time.
The same two players combined as Black curled in a superb corner from the left and a towering header from Errington found the bottom corner as the defender celebrated his second goal of the night.
Gomes scored the pick of the bunch three minutes into the second half when he collected the ball 30 yards from goal before hammering a stunning effort in via the post to seemingly make the tie safe.
Hodgson finally got in on the act soon after as substitute Rob Ryland retrieved a loose ball on the right of the area before centering for the striker, who reacted well to divert the cross into the bottom corner and continue his run of scoring in every round.
He had another chance two minutes later but fired over, while at the other end Shields were determined to keep a clean sheet and were indebted to substitute Dom Agnew for keeping those hopes alive as he produced a fine tackle to deny Joe Payette.
The Mariners continued to relentlessly search for a fifth goal and went close twice as substitutes Jake Dunn and Ryland were narrowly off target with efforts.
Harrogate had a better spell in the final 10 minutes and after Josh Wicks crashed an effort against the post from the left of the area, they earned a reward for their endeavours as substitute Lewis Thornton headed in a corner from Malakai Mason.
Shields immediately went down the other end and restored their four-goal advantage, though, as Hodgson swivelled in the box before picking out the bottom corner.
There was still time for Ethan Hodgson to save well from Thornton at the other end before the final whistle blew and the young Mariners’ place in the first round was confirmed.
SOUTH SHIELDS: E Hodgson, L Black, Croft, Ames (Dunn 70), Wade, Errington (Agnew 54), Morris (Ryland 46), S Black, S Hodgson (c), Jenkins, Gomes. Subs not used: Steavens, Williamson, Taylor, Green.
Goals: Errington (13, 38), Gomes (48), Hodgson (55, 89).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.