Sam Hodgson scored twice as he captained a youthful South Shields side to a 2-1 pre-season win at Crook Town on Wednesday.

Hodgson’s brace put the Mariners two goals up before Crook, who are preparing for life in Northern League Division One after securing promotion last season, mounted a spirited fightback and halved the deficit.

The Mariners’ backline held firm though as they belied their tender years on a night which should prove a valuable learning experience.

Shields settled the quicker of the two teams and were unfortunate not to take the lead after just six minutes as Blair Rossiter curled a cross into a superb area, but Charlie McLeod was just unable to get clean contact on it in front of goal.

They did not have to wait too much longer to open the scoring, though, and the breakthrough arrived after some energetic pressing from summer signing Will McGowan. He won the ball in an advanced position and laid it off to Hodgson, who produced a clinical finish.

The rhythm of the game was disrupted after a lengthy delay caused by an injury to Shields’ Alfie Weallens, who was eventually stretchered off with a knee complaint. He is expected to undergo a scan to assess the severity of the injury.

Weallens was replaced by 16-year-old Academy team-mate Albe Fletcher, who caught the eye on the biggest occasion of his young career with an excellent display.

Hodgson was arguably the Shields player possessing the most experience, and he was a constant thorn in Crook’s side. He could have doubled his tally midway through the first half after some good work from Rossiter, but this time his effort cleared the crossbar.

Crook should have equalised six minutes before half-time after a mix-up at the back from the Mariners presented the hosts with an open goal, but they were unable to convert the golden opportunity and Shields capitalised on that early in the second half.

Goalkeeper Aaron Steavens picked out Joe Lockey on the left flank and he set substitute Oscar Taylor away down the left flank. His cross was intended for Jamie Whitehead but when he was unable to get clean contact on it, the ball broke to Hodgson and he made no mistake.

Crook pulled a goal back soon after, with Jamie Tumilty converting at the back post after an impressive cross from the right.

They threatened more regularly in the remainder of the game without seriously testing Steavens, with Shields able to mainly restrict their opponents to efforts from distance.

There could have been a third goal to wrap things up for the Mariners three minutes before the end when Fletcher progressed well through the centre and played it to fellow substitute Ben Campbell, but his drive from the right of the area went over.

Shields are back in action on Saturday when they face Blyth Spartans in the CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy at Croft Park.

South Shields: Steavens, Morris, Lockey, McGowan (Campbell 62), Stout (Aldus 46), Neary (Stout 68), Rossiter (Witheat 62), Weallens (Fletcher 16), Hodgson (c) (McLeod 77), Whitehead (Hills 62), McLeod (Taylor 36).

Goals: Hodgson (9, 48).

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 will travel to Esh Winning later this month in their opening match of this season’s FA Vase campaign.

The Mariners are starting at the second qualifying stage of the competition after reaching the third round last season.

Their opponents are Esh Winning after they triumphed 2-1 at Crook Town on Saturday in the first qualifying round.

The tie will see Shields travel to West Terrace on Saturday, September 24, for a 3pm kick-off.

Their last visit there was last October, when the Mariners won 4-0 with goals from Lewis Teasdale (2), Ben Riding and Julio Arca.