South Shields booked their place in the first qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy as they impressively won 5-2 at Scarborough Athletic on Saturday.
The Mariners scored four times in a scintillating first half performance, with two goals from Carl Finnigan, as well as one each from Gavin Cogdon and Matty Pattison, putting them into a commanding position.
Boro found the net twice themselves in the opening 45 minutes, including in stoppage time, to give themselves hope heading into the second half.
They battled well, particularly in the closing stages, but despite hitting the woodwork twice they were unable to set up a grandstand finish.
A controlled finish from substitute Andrew Stephenson late on wrapped up the Mariners’ victory and set up a trip to Farsley Celtic in the next round of the competition on Saturday, October 28.
Shields produced some of their most free-flowing football of the season so far in the first half at the Flamingo Land Stadium, and should perhaps have found the net even more than the four times they did.
They were on top from the outset, with Finnigan having a low shot saved in the third minute.
He went even closer soon after as he moved into space on the inside-left of the box and was found by Robert Briggs, before sliding an effort just past the upright.
It was an entertaining start which set the tone for the rest of the half, and Scarborough did possess a danger, particularly through Max Wright on the right flank.
Wright – who was sent off in the league meeting between the sides in August – had a sight of goal early on, but his strike was well held by Jack Norton in the Shields goal.
That was a rare blip in a blistering opening to the game from Shields, but they had to be patient to break the deadlock.
Finnigan saw a sweet hit from 20 yards held by home goalkeeper Tom Taylor, who also denied Pattison as he pounced on a loose backpass.
Boro couldn’t keep the visitors out for long, though, and the opener arrived in the 14th minute.
Julio Arca won possession in midfield for Shields and Pattison then helped the ball onto Barrie Smith. His pass gave Cogdon something to chase down the left and he outpaced home defender Matty Turnbull before turning him inside-out and firing into the roof of the net.
The Mariners’ lead was wiped out on 25 minutes when Michael Coulson’s well-hit free-kick from 25 yards appeared to strike the back of Anthony Callaghan in the Shields wall and wrongfoot Norton before finding the net.
The home side’s parity did not last for long as Shields restored their lead. Briggs sprayed a free-kick from the centre circle out to Craig Baxter on the right, and he carried the ball down the flank before crossing for Finnigan, who was initially beaten to the ball by Taylor. However, the Boro goalkeeper was unable to keep it under control and the ball dropped at the feet of Finnigan, who put it in at the second attempt.
It was one of three goals the Mariners would score in a devastating five-minute spell to take a firm grip on the tie.
The next came as Briggs played a superb ball into the feet of Pattison on the edge of the box, and he worked it onto his left foot before curling a glorious effort into the top corner.
Scarborough pushed for a goal to get them back into the game and were picked off on the break as Shields added a fourth. Arca clipped a perfectly-weighted ball down the left for Cogdon to run onto and again he got the better of Turnbull before squaring for Finnigan, who made no mistake as he added his second of the afternoon.
Boro pulled one back as the half ticked into stoppage time as Luke Dean’s effort from the edge of the box took a deflection before nestling in the bottom corner.
The goal will have changed the teamtalk of joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton somewhat, but the Mariners had chances to kill the game off in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Cogdon carried the ball down the right before angling a powerful low effort across goal that Taylor did well to palm away.
He should have scored his second of the match soon afterwards as he raced onto a flick-on from Finnigan and found himself one-on-one with Taylor. Cogdon looked sure to find the net, but his clipped effort went past the post.
He was also off-target after getting on the end of a ball from Pattison, but they were rare blips in a terrific performance from the frontman on his 50th appearance for the club.
Boro enjoyed a better spell towards the end of the game as they started to put Shields under pressure, knowing that one goal could change the complexion of the tie and make it a nervy ending for the away side.
Ross Daly, Dean and Coulson all had decent attempts from distance, before Wright hit the bar when he climbed highest and met a left-wing cross with a header.
Dean also hit the woodwork with a piledriver from long range, while substitute Nathan Curtis was unable to convert a delivery from the right as he nodded wide.
They were unable to score what could have proved to be an important third goal, though, and were again punished on the counter by a slick Shields team.
A dangerous free-kick from Scarborough was cleared and, as the hosts looked to recycle the ball and launch another attack, a misplaced pass let the Mariners in. Finnigan forced a ball through for Stephenson to run onto, and he kept it under control as he ran into the box before a cool finish across Taylor found the bottom corner.
It was a deserved and entertaining victory for the Mariners as they marked their first taste of action in the FA Trophy since the club reformed in 1974 in good style.
They now have a week to prepare for their latest cup quest, as they host Hartlepool United in the fourth qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Norton, Baxter, Callaghan, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Smith (Stephenson 66), Briggs, Cogdon (Sullivan 83), Pattison (Lough 71), Finnigan. Subs not used: Connell, Richardson.
Goals: Cogdon (14), Finnigan (33, 37), Pattison (36), Stephenson (87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields made it a trophy double with a 2-0 victory over Billingham Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup on Wednesday.
Goals either side of half-time by Andrew Stephenson and David Foley delighted the huge Mariners following at Victoria Park as the Mariners added to the Northern League title they sealed last month.
It was Shields’ seventh Durham Challenge Cup triumph, and their first since 1977, but with two cup finals yet to come, celebrations after the game were kept in check.
Synthonia had a decent opening to the game, without significantly threatening the Shields goal.
Robert Briggs had curled an early effort wide for the Mariners, while at the other end, Macaulay Langstaff’s powerful shot from 25 yards was well blocked by Darren Lough.
The longer the first half went on, the more dominant in possession the Mariners became, with Stephenson in particular proving to be a constant threat.
After beating his man inside and out on one occasion, Stephenson clipped the ball just wide, while Robert Briggs also went close when his strike from distance took a deflection and was tipped over.
Gavin Cogdon had a golden opportunity eight minutes before the break when Stephenson played him in, but skied his shot as the wait for the breakthrough went on.
Another effort from the frontman drew a decent save by Jack McLaren as Shields kept their foot on the gas, and they finally netted five minutes before half-time.
Wayne Phillips drove towards goal on the inside left of the box and fizzed a low ball in which was half cleared to Stephenson, who sent it first time into the bottom of the net.
There could have been another goal before the break, but after another Stephenson pass, Cogdon was denied by McLaren, who could only watch as Foley fired the rebound over.
Foley took just two minutes in the second half to get on the scoresheet at his former home ground.
The ex-Hartlepool United frontman pounced at the back post for his 33rd goal of the season after a miscue from Michael Richardson, following a fine run and pass by Alex Nicholson.
Richardson curled a shot just past the post himself soon after as Shields kept up the pressure, while another effort from the midfielder was tipped wide by McLaren.
In the closing stages, there were numerous chances for the Mariners to add to the scoring, and the closest they came was when substitute Carl Finnigan had an effort kicked away by McLaren, who also kept out the rebound from Foley.
A clean sheet was comfortably secured by Shields as they added to the Northern League title they picked up last month.
This was not a time for huge celebrations, though – the Mariners still have two cup finals to come, starting with their encounter with North Shields in the League Cup on Saturday.
Shields very much hope that it’s a case of two down, two to go.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Callaghan, Briggs, Shaw (c), Lough, Stephenson (Smith 69), Phillips (Holden 80), Cogdon (Finnigan 62), Richardson, Foley. Sub not used: Storey.
Goals: Stephenson (40), Foley (47).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
A stunning strike from Andrew Stephenson sealed three vital points for South Shields as they battled to a 2-1 win at Ryhope CW on Saturday.
Stephenson scored the winner 19 minutes before the end as the Mariners closed the gap at the top of Northern League Division One to 14 points.
The sides had been level after Josh Home-Jackson cancelled out an early Carl Finnigan penalty with a superb hit from distance for the hosts.
The victory made it 26 in a row for Shields, extending the club record for consecutive wins.
They started brightly at Ryhope, and almost took the lead within the first minute when Alex Nicholson clipped a superb ball over the top which Finnigan drilled not far past the post.
David Foley and Finnigan also had efforts saved by home goalkeeper Antony Lowerson, but he was unable to keep the scores level for long.
Finnigan was fouled in the area in the 11th minute, and stepped up himself to send Lowerson the wrong way from the penalty spot and score his 24th goal of the season.
Shields were well on top, and looking likely to extend their advantage.
Lowerson thwarted Finnigan with a good low save, while Gavin Cogdon volleyed over as two chances came and went within a matter of seconds.
Ryhope battled their way back into the game well, and enjoyed a decent five-minute spell before drawing level.
Home-Jackson struck a superb effort from 25 yards into the top corner, giving debutant Pete Jameson no chance in the Shields goal.
Although the home side had no clear-cut chances to claim the lead, they did cause the Mariners problems and the game became more even.
Robert Briggs went close to restoring the Shields advantage two minutes before half-time, but Lowerson did well to push his free-kick around the post.
Jon Shaw was introduced from the bench at half-time by Lee Picton and Graham Fenton, with Louis Storey pushed into midfield and Briggs brought off.
Within five minutes of coming on, Shaw struck the woodwork as he headed against the post after meeting a Stephenson corner at the near post.
Cogdon also almost put Shields ahead when he picked up the ball on the outside-right of the box before flashing an effort just over.
The pressure from the visitors was cranked up the longer the second half went on, but the Mariners were just unable to get the vital breakthrough.
A great run down the left by Cogdon ended when Lowerson denied him with a low save, while Anthony Callaghan also had an attempt kept out by the goalkeeper and Finnigan had an effort deflected narrowly wide.
Cogdon looked certain to make it 2-1 when a mistake at the back from Ryhope let him in on goal, but he hit his shot against the post as it began to look like it might be one of those days for Shields.
In fact, they almost went behind when James Ellis cut in from the left for the hosts, but Jameson made a good save with his foot on the only occasion he was seriously called upon in the second half.
The Mariners finally found their breakthrough in the 71st minute with another goal of the season contender.
A ball from halfway was headed out as far as Stephenson, who chested it down 25 yards from goal. He then drove a fantastic effort over Lowerson and into the net to delight the large travelling support.
Cogdon, Foley and captain Barrie Smith all had good opportunities to make the points safe, but were unable to beat Lowerson.
Ryhope were unable to carve out a decent opportunity of their own, despite some nervous moments for Shields in the closing stages when they were forced to defend set-pieces.
Elsewhere, Shildon defeated league leaders North Shields 2-0, meaning the Mariners cut the gap at the top to 14 points, while they have five games in hand.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Jameson, Nicholson, Callaghan, Briggs (Shaw 46), Morse, Storey, Smith (c), Stephenson, Cogdon, Finnigan (Baxter 84), Foley. Subs not used: Connell, Holden, Ramsey.
Goals: Finnigan (pen 12), Stephenson (71).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.