South Shields returned to form in scintillating style as they hit Droylsden for six at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Carl Finnigan, Gavin Cogdon and Dillon Morse all scored twice as the Mariners moved to the top of the EVO-STIK North table with a 6-1 win.
It was a superb result for Shields as they bounced back brilliantly from the 3-1 defeat at Stafford Rangers in the Buildbase FA Trophy a week earlier.
Droylsden had a clear gameplan to play out from the back, and started brightly.
An effort from Liam Caddick deflected against the leg of Morse and bounced not far past the post.
The visitors’ day would only get worse from there, though, as Shields terrorised them with a well-executed high press.
The first warning sign came when a clearance from goalkeeper Ritchie Branagan smashed against Jamie Holmes and bounced just wide.
Then, just as the game ticked into the 10th minute and the ground stood to applaud in memory of 10-year-old supporter Jak Fada – who passed away on November 6 – his favourite player opened the scoring.
Finnigan, fittingly wearing the number 10 shirt, peeled off his marker to connect with a Cogdon cross and find the bottom corner.
It was an emotional moment at the end of an emotional week for all connected with the Mariners.
Cogdon made it 2-0, sending Holmes flying down the left wing before meeting his eventual pass in the centre and firing past Branagan.
It was almost three when Finnigan’s shot was parried by Branagan and struck defender Shaquille Clarke before going just past the post.
From the resulting corner, though, the third goal did arrive as Morse rose highest to head in Julio Arca’s cross from the right.
The defender was on the scoresheet again nine minutes before the break as the brilliant Cogdon got clear on the left and fizzed a low ball across goal which Morse struck into the roof of the net.
Droylsden withdrew Branigan at half-time after he was given a torrid time, but his replacement, James Coates, was beaten just six minutes into the second half after Finnigan converted a penalty when Holmes was fouled.
Cogdon was the latest to score his brace when he raced onto a Craig Baxter throw from halfway, brought the ball into the box and found the bottom corner.
Shields were unable to add any further goals, but Liam Connell made a good save at the other end from Dylan Smith.
Droylsden scored a consolation late on when a Connell parry fell to substitute Steve Hall, and he hit the ball first-time into the centre of the net. The points had long since been sealed by the hosts, though.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw (Nicholson 46), Morse, Arca (c), Smith, Briggs (Stephenson 66), Cogdon, Finnigan, Holmes (Sullivan 53). Subs not used: Pattison, Richardson.
Goals: Finnigan (10, pen 51), Cogdon (22, 61), Morse (26, 36).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.