South Shields 6-1 Newport Pagnell: Mariners cruise into semi-finals
South Shields reached the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history with a crushing 6-1 win over Newport Pagnell Town at an electric Mariners Park on Saturday.
Cheered on by a ground record crowd of 3,161, the Mariners produced a majestic display to make it 19 victories in a row.
David Foley and Wayne Phillips fired them 2-0 up with two superb strikes within the first six minutes, and further goals from Dillon Morse and Robert Briggs saw Shields take a commanding 4-0 lead into half-time.
Gavin Cogdon added a double after the break to seal the home side’s passage into the last four, with Newport pulling one back towards the end.
The Mariners now await Monday’s semi-final draw.
There was a carnival atmosphere at Mariners Park some three hours before kick-off on Saturday, with supporters piling into the ground for such a big occasion.
The Shields squad was even treated to a deafening roar as they departed the dressing room for their warm-up, with space in the stands and around the pitchside fence already very limited even at that early stage.
By the time the players entered the pitch before the game, the crowd was already in fine voice and ready to back their team to the hilt.
Newport Pagnell started well, though, as they aimed to silence the home support.
They were almost rewarded in just the second minute, but the appropriately-named Elliot Sandy was adjudged to have brought the ball down with his arm before prodding into the bottom corner.
If that was the jolt Shields needed, they certainly responded in style.
Foley collected the ball 10 yards inside the Newport half and twisted past one opponent before unleashing a left-foot piledriver which glanced in off the post to send Mariners Park into raptures.
The atmosphere was sent up another notch when Shields scored a second stunning goal inside the first six minutes.
Michael Richardson found Darren Lough just outside the box on the left, and he played the ball into the path of Phillips, who, urged to shoot by the crowd, did just that with the outside of his left foot and watched his effort drive into the corner of the net in another devastating show of quality.
Shields were rampant and in the mood to wrap up a place in the semi-finals quickly.
Cogdon had an effort deflected wide and Briggs hit one over, while a Craig Baxter shot from the edge of the box bounced in front of goalkeeper Mark Osbourne, who managed to divert it over the bar.
The third goal wasn’t long in arriving, though, and it came when Phillips swung in a terrific corner from the right which an unmarked Morse powerfully headed home from close range.
Within two minutes of that, the Mariners all but sealed their victory with another tremendous goal.
Richardson sprayed a superb pass out to the left which was expertly controlled by Cogdon and played through to the advancing Lough on the inside-left of the box. He swept the ball across the area, where Baxter claimed it and passed it on again to Briggs, who smashed it into the roof of the net with a brilliant strike.
Newport battled gamefully and the match understandably hit more of a lull before Shields burst back into life in the second half.
Briggs saw a free-kick tipped wide by Osbourne, while at the other end, Liam Connell saved a one-on-one from Darryl Smith after a loose pass at the back.
Suddenly, though, Cogdon was played in on goal and when he was brought down, the referee pointed to the spot.
Osbourne got a hand to Cogdon’s penalty, but the power meant it was always destined to reach the bottom-right corner. Cogdon celebrated in style with his trademark handstand – which was brought to an abrupt end thanks to a sneaky push from Phillips!
It was Cogdon’s 20th goal of the season, and he had to wait just six minutes more for number 21.
It was another picture-book effort, with Cogdon playing the ball into the feet of substitute Andrew Stephenson, who flicked it first-time over a defender’s head and into the path of his team-mate, who volleyed it sumptuously into the bottom corner.
Try as they might for a seventh goal, Shields just could not add to the scoring in the final 20 minutes.
Foley hit an effort not far wide, while substitute Carl Finnigan’s shot was destined for the net, only to hit team-mate Stephenson.
Morse went close twice – with one header cleared off the line – while Foley struck the post with a powerful low effort after being played in on the inside-right of the box.
In the end, it was the visitors who would have the final say on proceedings as their endeavours were rewarded.
Sandy twisted and turned inside the area, and then curled a superb effort into the top corner to give the travelling support something to cheer.
There was a whole lot more to cheer for the record-breaking home crowd, though, as Shields qualified for the last four of the FA Vase for the first time.
There is now great anticipation ahead of Monday’s draw.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Nicholson 57), Briggs, Phillips, Cogdon (Finnigan 71), Richardson (Stephenson 67), Foley. Subs not used: Storey, Holden.
Goals: Foley (3), Phillips (6), Morse (23), Briggs (25), Cogdon (pen 64, 70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.