Stokesley SC 1-3 South Shields
By Philip Reay
South Shields completed their first league double of the season with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Stokesley SC on Saturday.
Shields started the game on the front foot, putting the home defence under pressure from the kick-off.
Alex Berhan won the ball in the centre of the park and played a ball into the path of Adam Burnicle; Burnicle shrugged off the attention of two defenders before firing a shot at goal from the angle of the box that flew inches wide of the upright.
Stokesley responded instantly. Jordan Sherwood picked the ball up from Laverick’s goal kick and in turn he played the ball into the path of Reece Kelly; Kelly turned past his marker before firing a shot at goal that was blocked by Colin White.
Shields began to dominate the game as they controlled the play in midfield and their pressure was rewarded on 10 minutes.
Berhan outpaced the defence on the left flank before sending a cross towards the back post, and Shaun Smith ghosted into the box to head in from 10 yards.
The goal spurred Shields forward as they continued to pressurise the home defence, but they were thwarted by some determined Stokesley defending.
On the quarter-hour, the Mariners were awarded a free-kick on the right flank that was floated into the box by Elliot Cutts towards White, but the Shields defender saw his header fly wide of the post.
Shields continued to dominate and went close to doubling their advantage on 20 minutes.
Berhan and Chris Locke combined on the left to release Berhan, but his shot was punched clear by Laverick in the Stokesley goal.
Stokesley began to enjoy a period of possession around the midpoint of the first half.
Gary Redman collected the ball on the right flank and beat his man before crossing the ball into the Shields box, but Cutts was on hand to head the danger clear.
A minute later, Connor Hood outpaced the Shields defence, but again the final ball failed to reach a Stokesley forward as Luke Richardson headed clear.
As the game approached the 35 minute mark, Shields were given a golden opportunity to extend their advantage following the award of a penalty.
Locke won the ball in the air and headed the ball into the path of Cutts, and he was brought down just inside the Stokesley box.
Shields skipper Stephen Ramsey stepped forward to take the spot kick, but his shot was saved by Laverick.
Despite continuing to dominate, the Mariners were unable to create any clear scoring opportunities, and the sides went into the break with Shields holding a slender advantage.
Shields started the second half as they had the first and immediately had the home defence under pressure.
The pressure bore fruit on 48 minutes. Berhan again tormented the Stokesley defence and fired a cross in from the left, and again it was Smith that reacted quickest to fire the ball past Laverick for his and Shields’ second goal.
Within a minute, Smith again tormented the Stokesley defence as he outpaced the defence on the left, before playing the ball into the path of Ramsey, but he fired wide.
Shields continued to press forward as Ramsey turned past his marker before playing the ball into the path of Cutts, but he also saw his shot fly wide of the post.
With the hour mark approaching and against the run of play, Stokesley reduced the arrears.
Sherwood fired a shot at goal that was saved at point blank range by Jak Wells, but the ball fell into the path of Greg Peel and he fired in from close range.
Shields responded instantly as Richardson fired a shot at goal that was deflected past the post for a corner; Berhan floated the resulting corner into the box for White, but he headed the ball wide of the post.
Despite continuing to dominate, Shields could not prise open the Stokesley defence as first Ramsey and then Berhan had shots blocked by the Stokesley defence.
As in the first half, the midpoint of the second half saw the home side enjoy a period of pressure and goalscorer Peel tested Wells with a shot from the angle of the box.
Stokesley maintained the pressure on the Shields defence, and on 80 minutes they again caused problems.
Luke Nicholson fired a free-kick into the box and following a scramble in the box, Adam Burnicle eventually cleared the danger.
As the game entered the closing minutes, Shields eased the nerves of the travelling support as Burnicle beat the offside trap to collect the ball before chipping it over the advancing keeper to restore Shields’ two-goal advantage.
Shields are next in action on Monday when they travel to Boldon to take on Jarrow Roofing.