South Shields were dominant as they secured a third home win in a week with a crushing 6-0 beating of Guisborough Town on Saturday.
The Mariners were 3-0 up within a quarter of an hour against a Guisborough side currently sitting bottom of Northern League Division One, with two Robert Briggs goals sandwiching a strike from David Carson.
They pressed forward their advantage as Julio Arca and Carl Finnigan got on the scoresheet, before debutant Adam Wrightson finished it off when he netted just 10 minutes after being brought on.
It was a superb team performance from the Mariners as they consolidated their second position in the table, having been in control from the start.
Finnigan had a half-chance within the first two minutes, and although the visitors scrambled the ball to safety, it did not delay the opening goal by too long.
It arrived in the fifth minute as David Foley got to the byline on the left and delivered a good cross which Briggs headed into the top corner.
Shields were two up extremely quickly as Andrew Stephenson and Anthony Callaghan worked a short corner routine, and the former found Carson on the edge of the box before he took a shot which bounced in front of goalkeeper James Dawson and nestled in the bottom corner.
Opportunities for Guisborough were very limited, but Liam Connell was on hand to keep out the efforts which were on target.
Foley had a goal ruled out for offside before the Mariners effectively put the game to bed on 15 minutes.
It was a terrific team effort as Carson found Briggs on the edge of the box and he played an impressive give and go with Finnigan before touching the ball beyond a defender and then sliding it past Dawson for his 10th goal of the season.
Later in the first half, Dawson did well to deny Foley and Craig Baxter, before Shields were awarded a penalty when Danny Carson’s shot was charged down and was adjudged by the referee to have struck the hand of Guisborough’s Chris Youldon.
Arca’s spot-kick was parried by Dawson back into the path of the midfielder, and he made no mistake the second time as he tucked it home.
The one-way traffic continued, but Shields were unable to add further to their advantage in the remainder of the first half, with the closest they came when David Carson curled an effort not far wide from distance.
Teenage winger Wrightson – who joined on loan from Gateshead on the eve of the match – came on at the interval in place of David Carson, and immediately looked at home as he produced an energetic display.
He was involved in goal number five within four minutes of the restart as his pressing forced a mistake and Briggs then delivered a magnificent, firm ball through the centre for Finnigan, who controlled with his chest before slamming it into the bottom corner.
Wrightson got in on the act himself soon after when Stephenson took control of the ball on the edge of the box, waited for his team-mate to run beyond him into space and then found him, before the teenager hooked it in.
Shields were rampant and Briggs so nearly claimed his hat-trick when he ghosted past a defender and then saw his effort strike the post via a touch from the goalkeeper.
Foley was kept off the scoresheet by Dawson as he made a good save, while Briggs again went close to his third when he thrashed a shot narrowly over from the edge of the box.
In the end, the Mariners could not add to their six goals, but it remained an excellent afternoon for Graham Fenton and Lee Picton’s side as they kicked off the second half of their league campaign in style.
They are next in action next Saturday, when they take on Dunston UTS at Mariners Park from 3pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Shaw (Smith 73), Danny Carson, Arca (c), Briggs, Stephenson, Finnigan (Phillips 61), David Carson (Wrightson 46), Foley. Subs not used: Riding, Ramsey.
Goals: Briggs (5, 15), David Carson (6), Arca (36), Finnigan (49), Wrightson (55).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
The 19-year-old winger is in contention to make his debut for Shields in Saturday’s game against Guisborough Town at Mariners Park.
Wrightson is the third Gateshead player to join the Mariners so far this season, following short-term moves for Ben Clark and Luke Hannant.
He is a product of the Tynesiders’ link-up with Gateshead College, having broken into the first-team during last season.
So far this season, he has made five appearances at senior level for Gateshead, and has scored 11 goals in nine outings for the club’s Under-19s side in the Northern Alliance League.
Welcome to Mariners Park, Adam!