South Shields returned to action with a win as they began their pre-season programme against Consett at Mariners Park on Friday.
New signing Josh Gillies and midfielder Dan Lowther were on target as the Mariners defeated their Northern League opponents 2-1.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton fielded a side which included Gillies and fellow new boy Phil Turnbull, and they started brightly as they gained control of possession.
A trialist went close to giving the hosts the lead in the eighth minute when he brilliantly tricked his way past a defender on the inside-left of the box before curling a shot over.
Gillies showed his quality with a through ball to Michael Richardson soon after, but the midfielder saw his effort blocked.
Shields kept up the pressure and got their reward on 17 minutes when Carl Finnigan laid the ball off to Gillies, who kept his composure and slotted home from 12 yards.
Turnbull tested visiting goalkeeper Ross Coombes with a drive from the edge of the box later in the half, but the Consett youngster was equal to the effort as he pushed it away.
At the other end, Liam Connell kept out two long-range attempts by Calvin Smith, and the closest Shields came to extending their lead before half-time came when Richardson fizzed a low shot across the box which just evaded a touch.
The Mariners changed their entire team at half-time, with Gary Brown and Chris Hunter among those brought on as they made their first appearances for the club.
A trialist twice went close to extending the home side’s lead, and Matty Pattison was one of the main bright sparks as he started pre-season in sharp form.
Some good work by Pattison on the right led to a chance for youngster Arron Thompson, but his shot was flicked off the line.
Consett did have some bright moments, and striker Michael Sweet may have thought he had equalised when his sweet strike arrowed towards goal, but Brown was on hand to brilliantly block and clear the danger.
Less than a minute later, Shields doubled their lead as Pattison again caught the eye by keeping possession and then teasing the ball past the defence to Lowther, who rolled it into the bottom corner.
Pattison and Lowther had opportunities to make it three but the Mariners did not find the mark again.
In the end, it was Consett who had the final say as Josh Gray picked out the bottom corner with the final kick of the game.
SOUTH SHIELDS (first half): Connell, Baxter, Trialist, Lough, Morse, Turnbull, Richardson, Smith (c), Finnigan, Trialist, Gillies.
SOUTH SHIELDS (second half): Stephenson, Hunter, Cooper, Shaw, Brown, Ross, Pattison, Thompson, Lowther, Trialist, Cowburn.
Goals: Gillies (17), Lowther (69).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Lee Mason inspired a second half comeback from South Shields as they remained four points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division on Tuesday.
Lee Mason inspired a second half comeback from South Shields as they remained on course for the Evo-Stik North Division title last night.
The Mariners found themselves a goal behind away to bottom side Goole at half-time after a poor first half display.
However, Mason struck twice inside the first nine minutes of the second half to turn the game on its head and take his tally to six goals in his last five games.
Substitute Dan Lowther wrapped up the points late on for Shields on his league debut for the club.
It was the second time Goole had caused the Mariners problems this season, having held out at 0-0 in the reverse fixture until the closing stages before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat.
Shields appeared to have the measure of them in the early stages this time around, with Mason played in on goal inside the first two minutes before seeing his shot beaten away by goalkeeper Ben Saynor.
There was also an early sighter of goal for Michael Richardson, whose effort from the edge of the box was kept out by Saynor.
The home side began to get a foothold, though, and their first attempt drew a decent save from Liam Connell as Nathan Curtis’ header looked set to find the corner.
Connell also did well to palm a long-range effort from Daniel Horton behind for a corner, while at the other end, Jon Shaw was denied by Saynor.
The hosts got their noses in front 10 minutes before half-time when Shields failed to clear a corner and John Lock forced the ball over the line.
The Mariners were in need of a strong response after the break, and after an offside Louis Storey hit the post with a volley, they built some momentum.
Mason netted the equaliser in the 50th minute when he met a superb cross from the left by Storey with a bullet header to give Saynor no chance.
Holmes was kept off the scoresheet by Saynor soon after, but he could do little to handle Mason.
He was soon played in on goal by a terrific through ball from Robert Briggs, and he rounded Saynor before coolly slotting home.
Chances were harder to come by in the remainder of the second half, but substitute Aksel Juul whistled a shot not far wide before the points were sealed five minutes before the end.
Michael Richardson got in behind on the inside-right of the box and when his initial cross was blocked back to him, he picked out Lowther to slide home from close range and score his third senior goal in as many appearances for the Mariners.
The win kept Shields ahead of Hyde United and Scarborough Athletic by four and five points respectively, and they have a game in hand on both.
On Thursday, they host Coalville Town in the semi-final of the League Cup at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw (c), Morse, Ross (Lowther 81), Storey, Briggs, Mason (Armstrong 87), Richardson, Holmes (Juul 58). Subs not used: Woolston, Nicholson.
Goals: Mason (50, 54), Lowther (85).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Dan Lewis.
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.