South Shields ended Matlock Town’s 10-match unbeaten run in the Evo-Stik Premier Division in emphatic style as they honoured the memory of Jak Fada with a 5-0 win.
Just over a year on from the 10-year-old’s tragic death, the club labelled the match against Matlock as Jak Fada Day as children were allowed entry to the ground for free.
Those present watched a terrific display from Shields, who raced into a 3-0 first half lead thanks to an opener from Carl Finnigan and two from Gavin Cogdon.
The Mariners continued their dominance after half-time and wrapped up the three points with further goals from Jon Shaw and David Foley.
The result kept Shields seventh in the table, nine points off table-topping Nantwich Town with four games in hand.
They went into Saturday’s match expecting a difficult encounter against arguably the league’s most in-form side.
However, despite a strong opening five minutes from Matlock, Shields were in control throughout and thoroughly deserved their comfortable victory.
The Mariners first threatened a breakthrough in the ninth minute when a clearance from visiting goalkeeper Ross Durrant fell to the feet of Ursene Mouanda 30 yards out, and the midfielder was not far away from registering his first goal for the club as his effort looped just over.
They did not have to wait too much longer, though.
Captain Shaw clipped a ball over the top and Lee Mason ran onto it before rounding Durrant and seeing his shot from a tight angle cleared off the line by Adam Yates. Finnigan was determined to get to the loose ball first and did so before ramming it first time into the roof of the net.
It was a poignant moment as Finnigan opened the scoring in the 11th minute – Jak Fada would have been 11 now.
Shields played some outstanding football in the first half and doubled their lead after a terrific flowing move.
Robert Briggs played the ball inside from the right to Finnigan, who hit it first-time beyond the defence for Mason to run onto. Mason sent it across the face of goal and it struck defender Taron Hare before bouncing in off the knee of Cogdon.
Mason was at the heart of much of Shields’ best play and he was unfortunate not to add to the scoring when he got on the end of a Finnigan flick-on and fired over.
Goal number three did arrive before the half-hour mark as Blair Adams split the defence with a superb through ball and Cogdon raced onto it before beating Durrant with an audacious dink.
Matlock were perhaps fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men shortly afterwards when Durrant appeared to handle the ball outside the box, but the referee ruled it was inside the area and then penalised Cogdon, who had stolen the ball from the goalkeeper.
Shields hit the bar a minute before half-time when a Briggs corner was headed against the woodwork by a Matlock defender, and Cogdon almost completed a first half hat-trick as Durrant kept out his low drive.
There was no complacency in the second half from the Mariners, who extended their advantage in the 52nd minute.
Briggs curled in a terrific free-kick from the right and Shaw directed a brilliant header into the opposite corner to end any hopes Matlock had of staging a dramatic comeback.
Finnigan went close again when he fired over from a Briggs through ball, before Matlock hit the post when a ball in from the right was diverted towards goal.
Adams, Mason and Craig Baxter all went close, and Phil Turnbull almost netted his first goal for Shields as a ball across the area from Gary Brown was smashed into the side netting.
The fifth goal did arrive six minutes from the end when Briggs again split the defence with a fine through ball and Foley produced a sublime disguised finish on his 100th appearance for the club.
Foley was denied from point-blank range soon after but Shields had already done more than enough to secure the three points.
Next Saturday’s trip to Nantwich promises to be quite some occasion.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda (Brown 71), Briggs, Mason, Finnigan (Gillies 59), Cogdon (Foley 64). Subs not used: Lough, Harmison.
Goals: Finnigan (11), Cogdon (21, 27), Shaw (52), Foley (84).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
David Foley scored a goal of the season contender as he helped himself to a hat-trick in South Shields’ 4-0 Buildbase FA Trophy victory over North Ferriby United on Saturday.
Foley’s overhead kick from outside the penalty area lit up the first qualifying round tie at Mariners Park as Shields continued their outstanding home form.
Dillon Morse had given the hosts the lead in the first half as he headed in from a Josh Gillies corner, but it was to be Foley who ultimately stole the headlines.
To try it was audacious, to deliver it something else entirely.
Foley received the ball with his back to goal, flicked it up and then beat Ferriby goalkeeper Lewis Exall with an incredible overhead kick from the edge of the box.
It left many of the crowd open-mouthed, with several of Foley’s team-mates putting their hands to their head in disbelief.
The goal helped Shields to a convincing 4-0 victory in the FA Trophy first qualifying round tie as they avenged a 3-0 early-season league defeat to the same opponents.
The Mariners looked comfortable throughout, and there rarely seemed to be any danger of Ferriby repeating their August victory.
Shields had some early sighters, with Blair Adams denied by a last-ditch tackle and Morse heading wide from a corner, before the deadlock was broken on 14 minutes.
Gillies curled in a superb corner from the left and Morse towered above the defence to head in his second goal of the season.
The hosts almost doubled their lead when a flowing move saw Adams played in on the left of the box, but his effort rattled the crossbar.
Shields kept the ball alive and Exall did well to push out a shot from Craig Baxter before Gillies sent the rebound wide.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side kept up the pressure throughout the first half.
A header from Lee Mason just cleared the crossbar while Foley saw a low effort tipped wide by Exall in two of Shields’ best moments.
Exall made the save of the match on the stroke of half-time when Adams swept a low ball into the box from the left and Foley looked certain to score, only to be denied at point-blank range.
Ferriby were unable to stem the tide after the break, but Exall was proving to be a formidable man to beat.
He saved well from Foley within a minute of the restart before Mason fired the rebound over.
Foley did find a way past Exall soon after, but his shot after cutting in from the left came back off the post.
The second finally arrived thanks to Foley’s moment of magic in the 52nd minute.
Exall had kept out a Mason header seconds earlier, but he could do nothing to prevent Foley’s stunning overhead kick loop over his head and into the net.
Foley and Shields brimmed with confidence after the goal, attacking with purpose down both flanks.
Adams was at the heart of much of their bright play and he twice went close to getting on the scoresheet, seeing one shot saved from close range before firing narrowly over from distance soon after.
Goal number three came after a swift counter attack as Robert Briggs stole the ball in the centre of the park and motored through towards goal.
An interception by a defender sent the ball into the path of Foley, who dinked it over the despairing Exall to put the result beyond any doubt.
Mason missed a glorious chance to make it four when he headed a Ben Harmison cross wide, but Shields did not have to wait too much longer to find the net again.
New signing Nathan Lowe saw a low shot saved but Foley was on hand to sweep in the rebound and complete his hat-trick.
Foley and Briggs each went close to adding a fifth but Shields had long since wrapped up their place in the second qualifying round.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c) (Lough 72), Morse, Turnbull, Lowe, Briggs, Mason (Guy 77), Gillies (Harmison 63), Foley. Subs not used: Brown, Mouanda.
Goals: Morse (14), Foley (52, 66, 75).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
David Foley’s first half goal was enough to return South Shields to winning ways as they beat 10-man Gainsborough Trinity 1-0 at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Shields had to battle for the three points against an impressive Gainsborough side who did not let the 33rd-minute dismissal of forward Ross Hannah affect them too much.
Foley put the Mariners in front two minutes into first half stoppage time and despite a good challenge from the visitors in the second half, Shields saw the game out with a professional performance as they climbed to sixth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table.
The Mariners had an inauspicious start as Gainsborough made some early inroads.
The closest the came was when Alex Byrne got in down the left and fired a low effort which Liam Connell did well to push to safety.
Ben Gordon whistled another shot over from distance as the visitors flashed Shields some warnings of their quality.
Shields soon found their feet, though, and looked the more threatening side the longer the first half went on.
Josh Gillies curled a free-kick into the side netting as the hosts pushed for a breakthrough.
Their task was helped in the 33rd minute when Hannah was given his marching orders for a lunging challenge on Gillies on the right touchline.
Gainsborough’s players were incensed by the decision but showed impressive grit in the remainder of the match as they set up to frustrate the Mariners.
Shields built some momentum at the back end of the first half and almost had the lead when Craig Baxter’s powerful effort from 20 yards was tipped over by goalkeeper Jon Stewart.
Two minutes into stoppage time, the deadlock was broken as Robert Briggs beat the defence with a fine pass and Foley got to the ball before Stewart, taking it around him before finishing from a tight angle.
Gainsborough stuck to their gameplan in the second half and ensured they remained in contention.
They almost levelled things up on 57 minutes when Neil Austin whipped in a superb shot from the left which Connell did well to tip onto the crossbar.
Shields remained patient and kept the ball relatively well to ensure the visitors did not have any further clear-cut opportunities.
Foley was unfortunate not to add a second when he found the net after a Carl Finnigan effort was parried to him, and the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside.
The Mariners had a number of further attempts at goal in the closing stages but were unable to find a second goal which would have made the three points safe.
Their solidity across the pitch ensured another goal was not required.
Shields host West Auckland Tunns on Tuesday in the Durham Challenge Cup as they aim to build some momentum.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda, Briggs, Finnigan (Harmison 68), Gillies (Wright 90+5), Foley (Mason 81). Subs not used: Brown, Lough.
Goal: Foley (45+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.