Darius Osei netted twice as South Shields won the inaugural CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy match against Blyth Spartans on Saturday.

The in-form forward bagged either side of half-time to help Shields to a 2-1 victory over the National League North side at Croft Park.

It continued Shields’ 100% start to pre-season and was their most notable victory of the summer to date.

Shields started on the front foot as Ntumba Massanka almost capitalised on an error by Blyth goalkeeper Alex Mitchell, but he did well to recover and block the follow-up strike.

The home side then had a great chance to take the lead as Connor Thompson stole the ball from Dillion Morse, but Myles Boney did well to close the angle and the effort trickled comfortably wide.

Although Blyth had produced the best chance of the game at that point, Shields were still pressing for the opening goal. Massanka was presented with a great opportunity to get it, but he miscued his shot and the ball sailed out for a goal kick.

Not long afterwards, Shields’ pressure paid off. Nathan Lowe played a brilliant corner into the front post and Osei flicked the ball into the roof of the net after beating his marker.

Blyth nearly hit back immediately as Thompson, who caused problems throughout the afternoon, found space in front of goal but dragged his shot wide.

The Mariners doubled their lead not long after the break as Osei bagged his second. Conor Tee did brilliantly to beat a defender and stand up a cross to the far post, where the in-form Osei was waiting to control the ball and fire into an empty net.

The home side got one back straightaway as substitute Karl Byrne was presented with a great opportunity and lifted the ball over Boney and into the net.

That gave Spartans much-needed energy as they searched for an equaliser. It almost came through Nicky Deverdics as Robbie Dale’s corner caused unrest in the penalty area, but his effort from close range hit the side netting.

Shields saw out the rest of the game after absorbing pressure towards the end, and look in great shape for the season ahead after continuing their winning pre-season run.

South Shields: Boney, Verstraaten, Kempster, Trialist (Agnew 58), Morse, Ross, Osei (McGowan 80), Briggs (c), Massanka, Lowe, Tee. Subs not used: Steavens, Neary, Hodgson, Steavens.

Goals: Osei (27, 50).

Attendance: 993.

Words: Daniel O’Neill. Image: Kev Wilson.

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 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.