South Shields withstood a late Warrington Town fightback to record an important 3-2 victory at a bustling 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.
The Mariners roared into a two-goal advantage within the first half-hour as a close range Alex Kempster finish was followed by a composed penalty from Robert Briggs.
Briggs added a second spot-kick early in the second half to provide added comfort for Shields and ensure that goals from Jordan Buckley and substitute Dom Reed did not earn them any points.
The result kept Shields two points clear at the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League as they maintained their unbeaten start to the league campaign.
The Mariners had tasted defeat seven days previously, though, as they were beaten 3-0 by Marske United in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Those expecting there to a hangover from that loss proved to be mistaken as Shields started firmly on the front foot.
Graham Fenton opted to make one change to his starting line-up although it was a significant one, with Will McGowan replacing Ntumba Massanka and Jon Shaw moved up-front, with Robert Briggs pushed back into defence.
It took just five minutes for the new-look Shields to take the lead as a well-worked corner routine reaped dividends.
Briggs clipped the ball in from the left and after it was headed back across the area by Dillon Morse, Darius Osei nodded it goalwards. It may have been heading in but Kempster made sure by sticking out his boot and forcing it home from close range for his first goal of the season.
Shields were well aware of Warrington’s capabilities, having faced numerous problems against the Yellows over the last three seasons.
They possessed a clear threat when given space to work in, and fired a warning to Shields when Jack Mackreth advanced down the right of the area and sent in a low cross which Myles Boney did well to clear with a foot.
The majority of the bright attacking play came at the other end, though, and the Mariners had a second opportunity as Kempster nodded the ball back to Conor Tee and his goalbound drive was deflected over.
A similar chance fell the way of Dan Martin on the opposite side of the area, with his fizzed strike seemingly headed for the top corner before hitting the head of a defender.
It was an impressive start by Shields but Warrington remained in the game and went close to equalising with a pure hit from distance by Jordan Buckley which whistled narrowly over Boney’s crossbar.
The near miss at the other end did not deter the Mariners, and they were awarded a penalty shortly before the half-hour mark when Tee controlled the ball beautifully before dancing past a defender and being fouled in the area.
Briggs – who had failed to convert his most recent penalty, at Radcliffe – made no mistake from 12 yards as he sent Atherton the wrong way to double the home side’s lead.
Warrington had a golden opportunity to halve their deficit less than a minute into the second half as Josh Amis turned in the area and powered an effort just over.
Rolling back the years in his striking role, Shaw almost added his name to the scoresheet soon after as Osei found him with a cross from the right of the box and his strike was beaten away by Atherton, before he sent the rebound wide.
Shields did not have to wait too much longer for the third goal, which again arrived via the penalty spot after McGowan had brilliantly found Kempster and he was tripped on the left of the area. For the second time, Briggs sent Atherton the wrong way to extend his side’s advantage.
The Mariners were playing with real confidence and that was underlined when Martin switched the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a sweet strike which was destined for the net before being brilliantly blocked by Warrington captain Mark Roberts.
The Yellows were not in the mood for giving up and pulled a goal back shortly afterwards as Jordan Buckley used his strength to force his way through down the right before finding the bottom corner with a low effort.
Fenton introduced Callum Stead from the bench for his debut as he replaced Shaw on 69 minutes, with Nathan Lowe brought on four minutes later as he made his first appearance since late-August after recovering from a hamstring injury.
The substitutions came as Shields looked to wrestle back control after a period of pressure by Warrington which saw Boney forced into impressive saves from Roberts and Amis.
Lowe, meanwhile, almost made an immediate impact as he shifted the ball onto his left foot and forced Atherton into a low save with an effort from the edge of the area.
Reid ensured it would be a nervy finish for the Mariners as he volleyed home from close range with five minutes left but the hosts responded well, with substitute Will Jenkins twice forcing Atherton into saves and Lowe also denied by the goalkeeper.
The nerves continued to jangle but there was to be no late equaliser for the visitors as Shields saw it out.
The Mariners are back in action at 1st Cloud Arena on Tuesday as they host Lancaster City in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
South Shields: Boney, Martin, Bodenham, Shaw (Stead 69), Morse, Ross (c), McGowan (Jenkins 82), Briggs, Osei, Tee (Lowe 73), Kempster. Subs not used: Hodgson, Massanka.
Goals: Kempster (5), Briggs (pen 29, pen 56).
Image: Craig McNair.
South Shields hit Stockton Town for six at a sweltering 1st Cloud Arena as the Mariners marked their long-awaited homecoming in style.
It was Shields’ first home match in 261 days and a crowd of 973 cheered them to an emphatic 6-1 pre-season win as Blair Adams, Alex Kempster, Ntumba Massanka and Callum Ross all netted, with Darius Osei adding a further two goals.
It was a hugely encouraging performance and result from the Mariners against a side which won promotion from the Northern League last season.
Seemingly inspired by a buoyant home support, Graham Fenton’s team made their intentions clear immediately as they pressed from the front.
Within two minutes, Kempster won the ball inside the Stockton penalty area and pulled it back for Nathan Lowe, who fired over from 12 yards.
Lowe was central to the game’s opening exchanges and drew a low save from Connor Roberts before picking out Dillon Morse with a superb free-kick which the defender headed narrowly wide.
Shields were dominant in possession and quickly won it back whenever they lost it. Their early pressure paid off in the 17th minute.
Lowe clipped a ball into the area which Kempster headed across goal to Adams, who volleyed home from close range to give the hosts a deserved lead.
Stockton’s response was impressive and they went close to pulling level almost immediately, but Myles Boney was alert to the danger as he narrowed the angle and smothered an effort from Jonathan Franks.
The game’s second goal was not long in coming, though, and it was Shields who claimed it.
Kempster pounced on a loose ball in the Stockton box and danced around Roberts before, with defenders converging, he rifled into the roof of the net as the home side’s strong start continued.
The Mariners were enjoying particular success down the left flank and some fine work on that channel almost resulted in a third goal. They patiently worked their way into the area and Massanka’s backheel played in Adams, who was only denied a second goal by the legs of Roberts.
Osei and captain Robert Briggs were introduced from the bench in the 34th minute and the former almost scored with his first touch after being picked out by Massanka, but he guided the ball just past the post.
Briggs also threatened the Stockton goal with a powerful low drive from 25 yards which Roberts was forced to beat behind for a corner.
Shields were rampant and they added the third goal they had been probing for when Briggs’ corner from the right was punched by Roberts onto the head of Osei before dropping into the net.
The Anchors pulled a goal back moments before the break despite the best efforts of Dillon Morse, who cleared an effort from a corner off the line. Adam Nicholson reached the loose ball first and produced a swivelled finish to reduce the deficit to two.
Jon Shaw and Will Jenkins were brought on at half-time by the Mariners and it took just five minutes for Shaw to register an assist as he chested down a cross from Briggs to Ross, who buried it left footed into the bottom corner.
Any faint Stockton hopes of a comeback were extinguished in Shields’ next significant attack. Jordan Hunter was played into space down the right and produced a sumptuous cross into the six-yard area which Osei was on hand to slam past Roberts.
Massanka got in on the act on the hour mark on his first appearance at 1st Cloud Arena with a terrific first-time finish from a Conor Tee cutback.
There were opportunities for the Mariners to further extend their lead in the late stages, with Blair Rossiter dragging a shot narrowly wide, Sam Hodgson twice going close and Lowe firing a free-kick onto the roof of the net, while substitute goalkeeper Aaron Steavens made two smart saves at the other end.
It was a superb afternoon’s work for the Mariners, who registered their second win from two pre-season games. They are back in action on Tuesday when they welcome Consett to 1st Cloud Arena.
South Shields: Boney (Steavens 61), Hunter (Verstraaten 61), Adams (c) (Lowe 61), Ross (Rossiter 61), Morse (Shaw 46), Trialist (Agnew 61), Kempster (Osei 34), Lowe (Briggs 34), Massanka (Hodgson 61), McGowan (Jenkins 46), Tee (Kempster 61).
Goals: Adams (17), Kempster (22), Osei (44, 53), Ross (50), Massanka (60).
Image: Kev Wilson.
Welcome to the 10th day of December, which also sees the 10th installment of our SSFC Advent Calendar feature.
Throughout the first 24 days of the month we will attempt to spread a bit of festive cheer, and today’s feature is kicked off by Alex Kempster, whose message for fans can be viewed via the tweet below.
Allow Alex Kempster to introduce Day 🔟 of the #SSFCAdventCalendar as he delivers a festive message for you all!
He also asks the latest question as part of our comp to win a signed SSFC shirt! Submit your answers after question 4⃣ on Saturday! pic.twitter.com/WLD2uxBsno
— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) December 10, 2020
Over the next 24 days, you will be able to enter a range of competitions to win prizes courtesy of the club and several of its sponsors.
The latest item up for grabs is a signed South Shields home shirt.
To enter this competition, supporters must wait until four questions have been asked, with the fourth to be published on Saturday. Supporters will have until 9am the following day to submit all of their four answers together via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first question, asked by Jason Gilchrist yesterday, was: Which club did Jason Gilchrist score his first competitive goal for South Shields against?
Today’s question is: Which club did Alex Kempster join South Shields from?
Remember, don’t submit your answers until the fourth question has been published on Saturday.
We are today launching another competition in partnership with our sponsor Stoney’s Barber Shop.
A voucher for a haircut, deluxe shave and products is up for grabs and to enter the competition, you must do one of the following by 1pm on Saturday…
TO ENTER VIA TWITTER:
1. Like and retweet the below tweet
2. Make sure you are following the following accounts on Twitter: @SouthShieldsFC, @SSFCFoundation, @SSFCAcademy
Win a voucher for a haircut, deluxe shave and products with Stoney's Barber Shop in the #SSFCAdventCalendar!
One winner will be selected from all Twitter and FB entries! pic.twitter.com/hBNMYlWNzj
— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) December 10, 2020
TO ENTER VIA FACEBOOK:
1. Like, share and tag three of your friends on the competition posted on the South Shields FC Facebook page on Thursday morning.
2. Make sure you like the following pages on Facebook: South Shields FC, SSFC Foundation, Stoney’s Barber Shop
We would like to thank Stoney’s Barber Shop for their continued support.
We are also now highlighting our third charity of the month, Autism Able.
This is a fantastic South Shields-based charity which provides positive educational, social and work experiences for all learners enabling them to develop personally, vocationally and academically within an autism-friendly environment supported by passionate, caring and experienced staff with high standards and expectations.
Over the month, donations will also be encouraged towards the club’s charitable Foundation, which works with hundreds of children each week and does such fantastic work within our community.
To support the Foundation with a donation, please click here.
Thank you for your continued support and keep an eye out for Day Eleven tomorrow!