By Philip Reay
South Shields earned their biggest league win for five years with a 6-0 defeat of Thornaby at Eden Lane on Saturday.
Shields started the game on the front foot, and their early pressure was rewarded on five minutes.
Chris Locke won the ball deep in his own half before releasing David Molloy on the right flank. Molloy turned past his marker before crossing the ball into the box, and Stephen Ramsey continued his good form in front of goal to fire in from close range.
Shields continued to dominate possession, and on the quarter-hour Chris Feasey outpaced his marker before crossing the ball to Ramsey. He laid the ball off for Steven Graham, but his 20-yard drive was well saved by goalkeeper Justin Hutchinson.
On 20 minutes, the Mariners again went close. Feasey floated a free-kick into the Thornaby box towards James Talbot, but his header flew inches wide of the upright.
Shields doubled their advantage three minutes later when a long throw from Colin White was met by Graham at the back post. His bullet header flew past Hutchinson into the back of the net.
From the restart, Thornaby pressed forward, and were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Veteran striker Jamie Clarke fired the ball towards goal, but was denied by Shields keeper Aidan Grant.
On the half-hour, James Pickering outpaced the Thornaby defence before crossing to Molloy. He twisted and turned inside the box to beat three men, but his shot was smothered by Hutchinson. This was to be Pickering’s last contribution to the game as a hamstring injury saw him replaced by Paul Kane.
Shields maintained the pressure on the visitors’ defence, and with five minutes remaining in the first half, they were awarded a free-kick on the angle of the box.
Feasey curled the ball round the defensive wall and Hutchinson initially fumbled it, but at the second attempt he claimed the ball to deny Feasey his first goal of the season.
From the clearance, Daniel Lofts collected the ball wide on the right and turned away from his marker before crossing the ball for Daniel Lambert, but he was denied by a superb point blank save by Grant.
In the final action of the half, Talbot fired a 20-yard shot at goal, only to be denied by a good save from Hutchinson, and the sides left the field with Shields holding a deserved two-goal advantage.
As in the first half, the home side started the second half on the front foot, and with the half five minutes old, Feasey further extended the Shields advantage.
He collected the ball wide on the left and jinked past the defence before firing a shot in off the post.
On the hour, Callum Wilson collected the ball in space in the centre of the park, and rifled a shot towards goal that was spectacularly tipped round the post by Grant.
Within five minutes, the South Shields pressure was again rewarded.
Feasey again tormented the Thornaby defence on the left flank before playing the ball towards Molloy on the edge of the box. He instantly flicked the ball over the head of the advancing keeper to put Shields four goals to the good.
The Mariners won the ball back from the restart and Kane advanced on goal, but his shot from the angle of the box curled just wide of the post.
With 15 minutes remaining, Kane was rewarded for his efforts. Ramsey floated the ball over the Thornaby defence, and Kane raced past the defenders to collect the ball and drive it past the keeper to give Shields a five-goal advantage.
They then spurned a further two chances as Kane first had his shot blocked and then headed a ball towards goal that just cleared the bar.
With two minutes remaining, Kane doubled his tally to put Shields six goals to the good. He collected the ball 20 yards from goal and volleyed the ball past Hutchinson.
Shields are next in action on Tuesday night when they entertain Tow Law Town at Peterlee. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Grant, Locke (Houshby), Feasey, White, Halliday, Graham (Maitland), Talbot, Smith (c), Ramsey, Molloy, Pickering (Kane).
Goals: Ramsey (5), Graham (23), Feasey (50), Molloy (66), Kane (73, 88).