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).

Attendance: 973.

Image: Kev Wilson.

Callum Ross has committed his long-term future to South Shields by signing a new contract.

The midfielder, who joined in January 2020 after a spell with USA-based Oklahoma City Energy, impressed in the early stages of the 2020-21 season after establishing himself in the side.

He and his team-mates were ultimately left frustrated when a second successive campaign was lost to the pandemic, but he is eager to get going again when things kick-off in 2021-22.

Ross, who also had successful stints at Charlotte Independence and Wingate University before returning to England and his native North East, said: “I’m really pleased to have signed a new deal with the club.

“The club had an option to extend my previous contract but offered me a longer-term one, and I’m proud the management wanted to keep me.

“It gives me that bit of extra security and now I’m just excited to get going again.

“I’m hugely grateful to the club and management for everything they’ve done for me so far and really want to repay their faith in the coming seasons.”

Prior to his move to America, Ross developed under the tutelage of Graham Fenton and Lee Picton in Monkseaton High School’s football academy.

The pair were instrumental in the 26-year-old’s initial move to 1st Cloud Arena, although Picton has since stepped away from first-team duties to take up a new role as the club’s chief executive.

Fenton, assisted by Jon Shaw and Brian Smith, will lead the Mariners into the new campaign.

Ross is confident he can find his best form again under the trio.

He added: “The vision and ambition of this club is exciting for any player and we all believe it is only heading in one direction.

“I’ve known Graham for a long time and I’ve got to know a lot of other people at the club really well now as well.

“Jon Shaw is one of those who I’ve built a good relationship with and he has been really open and honest with me, which I value massively. It’s the same with Graham and Brian.

“I trust the people that are here and hopefully we can kick on next season, which should be an exciting one with the work that is going on at the ground and hopefully we’ll have the fans back in big numbers.

“It was a no-brainer for me to stay because I’m really happy here and want to repay the faith that has been shown in me.”

South Shields manager Graham Fenton said: “We are delighted that Callum has committed his future to the club by signing a new long-term contract.

“He showed real class and quality in the games we were able to play last season as he fully settled into the squad.

“We are looking forward to seeing him back in a South Shields shirt as soon as possible.”

Another December day is upon us and with it, the seventh 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 started by Callum Ross, whose message for fans can be viewed via the tweet below.

Between now and Christmas Eve, 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 place on the SSFC Foundation Christmas holiday course on December 21 and 22.

To enter this competition, supporters must wait until four questions have been asked, with the fourth to be published on Tuesday. Supporters will have until 9am the following day to submit all of their four answers together via email to info@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

The first question, asked by Dillon Morse, was: Which club did South Shields defeat 3-0 on the opening day of this season?

The second question, asked by Phil Turnbull, was: Which club does Phil Turnbull’s twin brother Stephen currently manage?

Today’s question is: Which club did Shields beat 4-0 in the FA Vase final in 2017?

Remember, don’t submit your answers until the fourth question has been published on Tuesday.

We also have another competition running in partnership with our sponsors Fugati.

A 50% discount voucher is up for grabs and to enter the competition, you must do one of the following by 1pm on Tuesday…

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, @Fugati1

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 Sunday morning.

2. Make sure you like the following pages on Facebook: South Shields FC, SSFC Foundation, Fugati

We would like to thank Fugati for their continued support. You can visit their website by clicking here.

We are also currently highlighting our second charity of the month, Hospitality and Hope.

This is a fantastic South Shields-based charity which supports vulnerable and homeless people in our community through areas including a food bank and a supported housing project.

To find out more about Hospitality and Hope, click here. To donate financially, click here.

The charity is also this month publicising a reverse advent calendar, which highlights some of the items they are most in need of this festive season. You can read the items they require in the graphic below.

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 Eight tomorrow!