South Shields made it 14 goals in three games with a stunning demolition of Workington in the quarter-final of the Integro Cup on Thursday.
The Mariners stormed to a 5-1 victory away to their higher-ranked opponents, with five of the club’s academy starlets in the starting line-up.
They always looked a step ahead of Workington, and goals from Lee Mason, Barrie Smith, Luke Sullivan, Graeme Armstrong and Dan Lowther secured a comfortable passage into the semi-finals.
Shields started well in Cumbria, with Armstrong denied by an impressive save early on, while Aksel Juul also went close.
A deserved breakthrough arrived in the 16th minute when Smith slipped in Mason on the inside-right of the box and he superbly fired into the roof of the net to register his first goal for the club.
With their first shot of the game, the hosts equalised midway through the first half when Tommy Whitehead broke through on the inside-right of the box and squared for Max Brown, who made no mistake from close range.
Shields stayed on top, and were given a golden opportunity to reclaim the lead 12 minutes into the second half when Armstrong was fouled in the area.
Smith took the responsibility and stroked his penalty into the bottom corner via the post to begin another spell of dominance from the Mariners.
Sullivan was brought on immediately after the goal as he made his first appearance for Shields since returning from a two-month loan spell at Bishop Auckland.
He could not have asked for a quicker impact as, with his first touch, he controlled a cross from the left with his chest before brilliantly dinking the ball over the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.
Brown chipped over at the other end, while Workington goalkeeper Aaran Taylor made a fine stop to keep out an Armstrong header, and tipped another effort from the frontman onto the bar.
It seemed a matter of time until Shields sealed their win, and their fourth goal was registered with 13 minutes left.
A ball through the centre was ran onto by Armstrong, who slotted home to score his deserved goal.
There was still time for academy midfielder Lowther to get in on the act.
He played in Armstrong down the right and, although his effort was saved, the ball was kept alive and Lowther saw one shot blocked before rifling the rebound into the roof of the net.
It was as convincing a victory as Shields could have hoped for as they booked their place in the semi-finals.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Woolston, Biwer, O Scott (Kavanagh 67), Shaw (c) (Morse 46), Patterson, Ross, Smith, Lowther, Armstrong, Mason (Sullivan 58), Juul. Sub not used: Guy.
Goals: Mason (16), Smith (pen 57), Sullivan (58), Armstrong (77), Lowther (80).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields will continue their bid to defend the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday when they take on Sunderland RCA at Mariners Park.
The Mariners won the competition last season on their way to a historic quadruple.
They will be up against familiar opponents in Tuesday’s match, with RCA having proved to be extremely difficult to beat in both Northern League fixtures between the sides last season.
Shields had to come from two goals down with 10 men to claim a draw in the first meeting at Mariners Park, while the return fixture saw the Mariners again come from behind after having a player sent off to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Joint manager Graham Fenton is expecting a similarly difficult encounter with Martin Swales’ side this time around.
He said: “Sunderland RCA will work their socks off, and Swaz expects nothing different from his teams.
“They will make it difficult for us, and we’ve already put that in the players’ minds ahead of the game. The lads know it will be a tough test.
“There’s no complacency coming from our side, thinking that just because we’ve stepped up a level it’s going to be easy.
“We know it’s going to be difficult against one of Swaz’s teams, so we’ll give them all due respect and hopefully come out on the right side of the line.”
Sunderland RCA currently sit ninth in Division One of the Northern League, although they are without a win in their last five games in all competitions.
Another player with plenty of experience of coming up against them is Barrie Smith, who also expects a difficult tie as Shields bid to win a place in the quarter-finals.
He said: “Swaz will have them working very hard and getting stuck in.
“They’ll try to make themselves tough to beat, so we’ve got to be ready for that challenge.
“We’re at home and on our pitch, so hopefully we’ll get everybody wanting to do the hard work first and battling for each other. We all know the quality will come through for us if we do that.
“We’re the holders, so we want to win it again. Like last season, we want to win everything that we play in, so our aim is to try to win this game and get through to the next round.”
Kick-off is at 7.30pm, with admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – costing £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields hit five past Brighouse Town for the second time this season as they went six points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division on Saturday.
The Mariners went in at half-time with a 2-0 lead after goals from Carl Finnigan and Louis Storey, but Brighouse battled well in the second half, and pulled one back with a strike from Gabriel Johnson.
The hosts’ good spell ended when defender Adam Field was shown a red card for a foul in the penalty area, with Barrie Smith dispatching the resulting spot-kick to restore Shields’ two-goal advantage.
Graeme Armstrong netted his first goal for the club and Alex Nicholson scored late on to seal an ultimately comfortable win for the Mariners against a team they beat 5-0 in August.
Shields started the game strongly, and could have opened the scoring within four minutes when Craig Baxter’s effort from 20 yards was parried to Finnigan, who struck the post with the rebound. The offside flag had already been raised, though.
Finnigan had another chance 10 minutes later as Louis Storey played a superb through ball, but skewed his shot comfortably wide of the target.
He made no such mistake soon after, though. After Jamie Holmes was fouled on the left, Robert Briggs floated in a terrific free-kick which was glanced into the bottom corner by the head of Finnigan, Shields’ top scorer this season.
Brighouse almost levelled things up within a minute when Johnson got in behind, but Liam Connell beat away his effort with his legs.
That was a rare first half opportunity for the hosts, who went a further goal behind a minute into stoppage time, moments after Briggs had seen a shot from distance deflected wide.
The resulting corner saw Briggs curl in another impressive delivery which was this time headed beyond the defenders on the line by Storey as he netted for the second game in a row.
Brighouse had added attacking purpose at the start of the second half, and Rhys Jenkinson’s effort from the edge of the box stung the fingertips of Connell.
Shields looked like they could add a third goal at any moment, though, and almost did that after a sweeping counter-attack which saw Michael Richardson get in behind, and his chip just cleared the crossbar. He was also denied by a fine block less than a minute later.
Brighouse pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Johnson controlled a cross from the left before firing low past Connell.
The home side enjoyed their best spell of the game as they put the Mariners under pressure in search of an equaliser.
The closest they came to levelling was after an impressive move on the right, with Connell doing well to parry an effort from Aaron Martin.
Their challenge was dealt a major blow with 16 minutes left, though, when defender Field was given a straight red card after a scramble in the area, with the officials ruling that he had denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Smith’s central penalty found the net to restore Shields’ two-goal advantage and put them back into a commanding position.
Ten-man Brighouse could have pulled themselves back into it again soon after, but Smith proved to be their nemesis as he cleared a header from Callum Hall off the line.
The Mariners were well on top in the closing stages, with substitute Matty Pattison pulling the strings.
He played a major part in the final two goals. The first saw him clip a glorious pass beyond the defence for fellow substitute Nicholson, whose ball across the box was slid in by Armstrong as he netted his first goal for the club.
A flick from Pattison also got Smith in behind on the right soon after, and when he pulled it back to his team-mate, Pattison’s effort was destined to find the top corner. On its way in, it struck Nicholson and flew into the opposite corner as the points were wrapped up.
Shields are next in action on Tuesday, when they host Sunderland RCA in the second round of the Durham Challenge Cup, with a 7.30pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (c), Lough, Storey, Morse, Briggs, Richardson (Pattison 76), Smith, Armstrong, Finnigan (Nicholson 63), Holmes. Subs not used: Norton, Callaghan, Stephenson.
Goals: Finnigan (23), Storey (45+2), Smith (pen 75), Armstrong (82), Nicholson (86).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.