Darius Osei struck late in the first half to steer South Shields to a third win from three in pre-season against a spirited Consett side at 1st Cloud Arena.

Osei rolled home his third goal in two games on a night the hosts dominated possession and created a number of clear-cut chances, only to be largely kept at bay by an inspired performance from Consett goalkeeper Kyle Hayes.

It was another valuable workout for the Mariners as they emerged 1-0 victors in front of their first four-figure crowd since before the first coronavirus lockdown came into force in March 2020.

Fresh from an impressive 6-1 win over Stockton Town three days earlier, Shields found goals more difficult to come by on this occasion.

However, creativity was not an issue against the Steelmen and they went close to opening the scoring after little more than a minute, with Blair Adams’ drive blocked behind for a corner by the head of defender Nick Allen.

A further presentable opportunity fell the way of Alex Kempster as he got on the end of a Ntumba Massanka cross, but the wideman’s volley was off target.

Shields were in control of proceedings but needed Myles Boney to keep them on level terms when a cross from the right of the area looped goalwards, with the goalkeeper clawing the ball to safety.

Adams netted his first goal of pre-season in the win over Stockton and almost had another in the early stages here as he whistled a low shot narrowly past the post from the left of the area.

Wouter Verstraaten, Osei and Nathan Lowe all had chances to break the deadlock and at the other end, Boney was alert to save with his legs from Dale Pearson as Consett continued to offer the occasional threat.

Allen produced another goal-saving block to deny Conor Tee but it was the visitors who almost took the lead in the 34th minute when Jermaine Metz’s strike from distance took a deflection before clipping the crossbar.

Shields seized the initiative from there and after Callum Ross superbly hassled his opponent to win possession high up the field the ball broke through to Osei, who slid it under Hayes to score what would prove to be the game’s only goal.

Osei – who had been introduced as an early substitute – had two chances to double his tally in first half stoppage time but first saw a shot saved by Hayes before heading over seconds later.

The Mariners started the second half strongly and Osei was again a huge threat, going close with a glancing header from a Lowe corner.

Lowe was at his creative best again less than a minute later with a delightful free-kick which Ntumba Massanka was just unable to get clean contact with on the stretch.

Shields continued to push for a second goal and produced another big chance as Kempster drilled in a superb low cross from the left, but Osei could only turn it wide.

Will McGowan was one of three substitutes brought on during the second half and he almost provided a moment of magic as he attempted a cheeky chip from the inside-left of the box which Hayes was forced to scramble onto the post.

Not to be outdone, fellow replacement Will Jenkins also caught the eye with an excellent turn in the box to beat his defender before firing narrowly over.

Hayes proved to be an unmovable object in the closing stages as he persistently kept Shields at bay.

An Osei strike was blocked and after the Mariners kept the ball alive, McGowan and Sam Hodgson forced Hayes into a sharp double-save to preserve Consett’s chances.

Hayes pulled off an even better stop with three minutes left after Tee skipped inside from the left and unleashed a stinging effort which was destined for the top corner before the goalkeeper tipped it over at full strength.

The second goal would ultimately elude Shields but they were still satisfied by the performance and result against a Consett side expected to seriously challenge for promotion from the Northern League this season.

A Mariners XI will travel to Crook Town in their latest pre-season outing on Wednesday before making the journey to Blyth Spartans on Saturday to compete for the CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy.

South Shields: Boney, Verstraaten, Adams (Tee 24), Agnew, Morse, Ross (Lowe 77), Kempster, Briggs (c) (Jenkins 77), Massanka (Hodgson 77), Lowe (McGowan 62), Tee (Osei 17). Subs not used: Steavens, Rossiter.

Goal: Osei (40).

Attendance: 1,012.

Image: Kev Wilson.

South Shields will take on clubs including Blyth Spartans and Gateshead as part of a busy pre-season programme ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The Mariners will travel to Croft Park to face Blyth on Saturday, July 24, with the game against another National League North side, Gateshead, to take place on Saturday, August 7 at 1st Cloud Arena.

Those fixtures are among eight which have been confirmed for pre-season so far, with four of them to take place at 1st Cloud Arena. It is hoped that a ninth match will be confirmed in due course.

Among Shields’ other opponents before the Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign gets underway are Stockton Town, Consett and Marske United.

The confirmed pre-season fixtures to date are:

Tuesday, July 13: Newton Aycliffe (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 17: Stockton Town (home, 3pm kick-off)
Tuesday, July 20: Consett (home, 7.30pm kick-off)
Wednesday, July 21: Crook Town (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 24: Blyth Spartans (away, 3pm kick-off)
Wednesday, July 28: West Allotment Celtic (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 31: Marske United (home, 3pm kick-off)
Saturday, August 7: Gateshead (home, 3pm kick-off)

Admission and ticket details will be confirmed when it is possible to do so.

South Shields came from behind to defeat Consett as they began their FA Youth Cup campaign with a 4-1 victory on Thursday.

The young Mariners – who reached the third round of the competition last season – showed early signs of nerves as they fell behind to a Will Gallagher goal.

They soon found their stride, though, and after Charlie McLeod and Harvey Neary had fired them into a half-time lead, Oscar Taylor added two more goals after the break to earn Shields a trip to North Shields in the first qualifying round.

Jon Shaw and Wess Brown’s side was lacking in Youth Cup experience, with many of the players who performed so admirably in 2019-20 having now moved into the Under-19s age group.

They almost started this season’s run in the competition in some style as McLeod and Declan Bissett combined well before McLeod fizzed a shot wide from 20 yards.

Shields fell behind on the quarter-hour mark, though, as goalkeeper Callum Dobson made a sharp save but Gallagher was on hand to convert the rebound.

The young Mariners gained the upper hand after that and deservedly brought themselves back on level terms midway through the first half.

Dom Agnew – who made an impressive 90-minute appearance for the first-team in Tuesday’s win over York City – launched a ball over the top and McLeod beat the goalkeeper to it before stroking an effort home.

They went close to a quickfire double as McLeod motored down the right flank and delivered a low cross which Taylor flicked wide, with the striker denied again soon after as he was found by another right-wing delivery.

McLeod was at the heart of much of Shields’ most impressive work and he went close to doubling his tally for the night when he angled an effort just past the post after gliding across the pitch from right to left.

Shields did get the second goal they had been threatening just before half-time as another ball over the top caused confusion and this time Harvey Neary got their first to prod home from the inside-right of the area.

There were chances at both ends at the start of the second half, with McLeod’s cross sent just wide by Taylor for the Mariners before Dobson was forced to make a decent save to preserve his side’s lead.

The Mariners registered the game’s crucial fourth goal just after the hour mark as substitute Jack Wilkinson received the ball on the right and sent in a low cross which Taylor controlled well before turning and calmly picking out the bottom corner.

Shields were in full control by that stage and after Wilkinson and Taylor had gone close to making it 4-1, Taylor did just that as he slid an effort across the goalkeeper after being found in space in the box.

The only debate left open was whether Taylor could complete his hat-trick but after Wilkinson picked him out with a menacing delivery from the right, he fired over from close range.

It was a promising start in the Youth Cup for the young Mariners and they can now look forward to a rematch with neighbours North Shields, who they defeated on their route to the third round last season.

South Shields: Dobson, Neary, Hopper, Williamson, Stout, Agnew, McLeod (Wilkinson 55), Cooper, Taylor, Bissett (Witheat 76), Ryland (Lukeman 62). Subs not used: Walker, Baker, Gardiner.

Goals: McLeod (23), Neary (43), Taylor (61, 81).