Liam Connell’s loan spell at Darlington has been extended until the end of the season.

Connell initially joined the Quakers on a month-long deal in October and an agreement has now been reached to keep him at Blackwell Meadows for the rest of the campaign.

The goalkeeper has made 140 appearances for the Mariners across two spells, with the majority of those appearances coming since joining from Dunston in 2016.

He has been a part of two promotion campaigns and five trophy wins, and has 56 clean sheets to his name in a South Shields shirt.

We’d like to wish Liam well for the remainder of his loan spell with Darlington.

Josh Gillies has become South Shields’ fourth signing of the summer after completing a move from Darlington.

He is also the Mariners’ fourth acquisition from the Blackwell Meadows-based club this summer, following in the footsteps of Gary Brown, Chris Hunter and Phil Turnbull.

The 28-year-old, who can play on either flank or behind a main striker, has vast experience at various levels of the game, from his formative years with Sunderland Nissan and Newcastle Blue Star to a spell in the Football League with Carlisle United.

He most recently spent two years starring for Darlington in the National League North, but has opted to drop one division after a positive discussion with Shields joint managers Graham Fenton and Lee Picton.

Gillies said: “I’m over the moon to have joined the club.

“I met Graham and Lee earlier this week and came away feeling very excited about what is happening here.

“From the outside looking in, you can see where the club is going and where it wants to be.

“The plans the club have are amazing and hopefully I can help it on its way.

“It’s something I want to be a part of.”

Gillies started his career with Sunderland Nissan and Newcastle Blue Star before progressing up the pyramid, including a two-year spell in the Football League with Carlisle.

He enjoyed two stints at Gateshead either side of his time at Carlisle, scoring 15 goals in his most memorable campaign at National League level in 2012-13.

He was rewarded for his form that season with a call up to the England C squad, and made two appearances for his country.

Gillies is now hoping to help Shields achieve further success after they won promotion in each of the last three seasons.

He added: “You want to join a team that is looking to win the league, and that’s the number one target.

“I’m confident we’ve got the team here to do that.

“I know quite a lot of the squad having played with them in the past, so it will be easier than going to a brand-new club where you don’t know any of the players.

“Everything I’ve heard about the place is positive.

“There’s never any negativity when you speak to people about it and you want to be part of clubs like that.”

Gillies was part of the Darlington team beaten 3-0 by the Mariners in the FA Cup last season.

Although his personal experience that day was a negative one, he went away feeling impressed with Shields’ style of play.

He said: “We got a bit of a roasting that day and Shields played well.

“The way they play caught my eye as soon as I saw them.

“The full-backs spread and they like to get it down and play, which is how football should be played.

“I like to play on the floor and get into space to hurt defences.

“Hopefully it will suit me down to the ground.”

Shields joint manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re delighted to bring Josh to the club as our latest addition.

“He’s someone we showed a bit of interest in last season and it’s great to now have him on board.

“Josh will give us real quality at the top end of the pitch.

“He has played at a real high standard and is an intelligent footballer who will suit the way we play really well.”

South Shields’ Emirates FA Cup run continued as they cruised to a stunning 3-0 win at Darlington on Saturday.

The Mariners were on top form across the pitch as they swept aside their National League North opponents to qualify for the third qualifying round.

Dillon Morse put them 1-0 up inside the first seven minutes, and Carl Finnigan added a deserved second before the half-hour mark against Darlington, who are ranked two leagues higher than Shields.

Finnigan then wrapped it up in the closing stages in front of a jubilant travelling support numbering more than 600.

It was comfortably the Mariners’ best performance of the season so far as they rose to the occasion.

They took the lead early on as Robert Briggs’ free-kick from the left was flicked on by Jon Shaw and brilliant fired into the roof of the net by Morse to silence the home support.

Shields dealt with everything Darlo could throw at them, closing down the space and stopping the supply to striker Mark Beck.

When Darlington did make efforts at goal, they were usually from outside the box, with Josh Gillies and James Caton firing wide, while Beck was denied by a block from Morse.

Shields then doubled their their lead on 27 minutes.

Jamie Holmes showed great strength to turn his man midway inside the opposition half and played in Anthony Callaghan down the left, whose low cross was slid in by Finnigan.

Shields’ work-rate from the front was superb and earned them a number of opportunities in the closing stages of the first half.

Gavin Cogdon was among those leading from the front, and he almost made it three, only to be denied by a superb block from Terry Galbraith.

Cogdon was also prevented from having a tap-in at the back post by a great interception from Liam Marrs.

Mariners goalkeeper Jack Norton – making his first start in place of the injured Liam Connell – was not called into action to make a serious save in the whole match, and the closest Darlo came to beating him was three minutes before the break when Josef Wheatley’s effort was deflected into his hands.

Shields were more dominant after the break, and only a brilliant double save by Adam Bartlett stopped them going three up as he kept out efforts from Cogdon and Holmes – the second of which was from point-blank range.

A big penalty appeal for handball was turned down and Shields played themselves into threatening positions on numerous occasions.

At the other end, they were rarely troubled, and Norton dealt with crosses admirably.

Bartlett kept the score down, saving from Briggs after one of the Mariners’ best openings, before the victory was sealed with a minute left.

Shields broke well from a Darlington attack and Michael Richardson exchanged passes with Finnigan before playing the striker in on goal, and he made no mistake.

The big travelling support were singing in the rain – and there was no doubt that their team was winning.

The Mariners now eagerly await Monday’s draw for the third qualifying round as their dream goes on.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Norton, Baxter, Callaghan (Nicholson 90+2), Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Smith, Briggs, Cogdon (Richardson 79), Finnigan, Holmes (Sullivan 54). Subs not used: Lister, Storey, Pattison, Stephenson.

Goals: Morse (7), Finnigan (27, 89).

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.