South Shields eased into the first round of the FA Vase with a 4-0 success at Esh Winning on Saturday.
The Mariners enjoyed complete domination against their Northern League Division Two opponents, and goals from Robert Briggs and Leepaul Scroggins handed them a half-time lead.
After the break, Ewan Simpson and Gavin Cogdon scored the goals to secure Shields’ passage into the next round, the draw for which will take place on Monday.
Shields handed debuts to Liam Connell and Luke Hannant at West Terrace, while 18-year-old Simpson started for the first time after being called up from the Mariners’ reserve side.
Stephen Ramsey was also in from the start as he made his 300th appearance for the club.
With Esh defending with real determination, Shields struggled to break through in the opening exchanges.
Dillon Morse headed wide from a corner, while Briggs curled a free-kick not far over and David Palmer was denied by a good save from home goalkeeper Mark Hodgson.
Shields played the resulting corner short, and this time Palmer saw his effort cleared off the line.
On the left flank, Simpson and Hannant – who joined on a dual-registration deal with Gateshead on Friday – linked up well, and the latter was the next to be denied by Hodgson.
He could do nothing to prevent the Mariners opening the scoring on 34 minutes, though.
Some good one-touch play on the right eventually led to Barrie Smith playing Briggs through, and he dinked the ball over the goalkeeper to score his fifth goal in his last four starts.
The second goal arrived four minutes before the break, with Hannant retrieving an overhit ball from the right before clipping in a superb low cross which captain Scroggins converted.
Briggs looked destined to make it three on the stroke of half-time, but his shot hit the leg of a defender.
Carl Finnigan replaced the injured Ramsey at half-time, and the Mariners could have gone three up quickly, with David Carson hitting over from a good position after a corner was played short.
Simpson was the next to run at the home defence as he brought the ball inside from the left, and when he released Palmer, he looked sure to score.
However, after beating his man by cutting inside, he could only fire over.
Finnigan was also off target before Simpson deservedly got on the scoresheet to mark his man of the match display.
Hannant burst down the right and delivered a superb cross to the back post, and Simpson headed it across goal and into the bottom corner.
Briggs and Finnigan were both denied by blocks on the line, while Hodgson made a stunning point-blank save from Palmer as the hosts succeeded in keeping the score down.
Shields introduced Cogdon from the bench just before the hour mark, and he got in on the act soon after.
Simpson carried the ball inside from the left and then played in the striker, who drilled low into the net before celebrating with his trademark handstand.
Cogdon almost scored a goal of the season contender soon after when he spotted the goalkeeper off his line from 40 yards and smashed an incredible effort which struck both posts before bouncing to safety.
Palmer and Cogdon both failed to add to the scoring from decent opportunities in the closing stages, but Shields settled for a 4-0 victory as they got their FA Vase campaign started.
They return to league action on Tuesday, with Jarrow Roofing visiting Mariners Park for a South Tyneside derby.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Smith, Simpson, David Carson, Morse, Shaw (Riding 72), Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Cogdon 59), Ramsey (Finnigan 46), Briggs, Hannant. Subs not used: Carmichael, Phillips.
Goals: Briggs (34), Scroggins (41), Simpson (54), Cogdon (76).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields make their entrance into this season’s FA Vase on Saturday with a trip to Northern League Division Two outfit Esh Winning.
The Mariners reached the third round of last season’s competition, before losing on penalties to eventual winners Morpeth Town following a thrilling 3-3 draw.
They will be coming up against familiar opposition on Saturday, having played Esh twice in the league last season, winning on both occasions.
Shields go into the tie as leaders of Northern League Division One, while their opponents are bottom of Division Two.
However, having seen off Division One’s bottom-placed side West Auckland Town on Tuesday, joint manager Lee Picton wants his side to show the same attitude on Saturday.
He said: “It’s not a game we can take lightly.
“Esh Winning might be struggling a bit in the Second Division, but we’ve got to go out and do exactly what we did on Tuesday, start the game with a good tempo and hopefully our quality will shine through.”
On the competition itself, Picton added: “We hope it’s the first game of a long run for us in the FA Vase this year.
“We’ve certainly got the attributes and qualities to go very deep into the competition.
“Every team needs a bit of luck along the way, and hopefully we’ll get a bit of that this season.
“The club didn’t have much luck in it last year in the defeat to the eventual winners Morpeth on penalties.”
Shields go into the tie without defender Louis Storey, who suffered a broken leg and ankle ligament damage in Tuesday’s game.
They are also likely to be missing David Foley, Ben Riding and Julio Arca, while there are doubts over Craig Baxter, Jon Shaw and Gavin Cogdon.
Striker Carl Finnigan is confident, though, that the Mariners’ squad is strong enough to come through a testing period.
He said: “There are a lot of injuries and a few are playing who are struggling with knocks as well, so it’s key that we prepare right and make sure we’re all ready for the next game.
“We’ve got a fantastic squad and a great group of players. Players have stepped in and we’re confident with the squad we’ve got.”
Finnigan is set to make his FA Vase debut on Saturday, having played in the past for the likes of Newcastle United, Falkirk and Gateshead.
He added: “I’ve heard a lot about the FA Vase, but I’ve never been involved in it.
“I’ve heard it’s a special cup competition, so I’m looking forward to playing in it and we want to go all the way.
“That’s the end goal. We want to win trophies and that’s one that’s definitely on the list.”
On the trip to Esh Winning, Finnigan said: “It’s another scenario similar to Tuesday.
“We need to take it with the same attitude, 100mph, don’t give them anything early on and kill their confidence.”
Kick-off at West Terrace, which has a post code of DH7 9BQ, is at 3pm. We would very much appreciate your support at the game.
Meanwhile, Esh Winning have posted the following ahead of the match…
“An update for all fans attending Esh Winning vs South Shields FC:
“Tickets: £5 for adults and £3 for concessions, all kids in their Deerness Valley Shirts get free entry with a paying adult.
“Parking: Obviously we are expecting a big crowd so parking will be at a premium, there is a fairly decent sized car park, and our overflow car park is the grass field behind this one. Please note that parking on the overflow car park would be at your own risk, especially if it rains. We will have someone in the car park to help park you, however we advise you to get there early to ensure you get a space. If you are a blue badge holder please contact us via email at email@example.com.
“Clubhouse: The clubhouse will be open from 1pm, and of course the bar will be open from that time as well. Please be aware that as per league and FA regulations no alcoholic drinks are to be taken outside. Everyone at the club is a volunteer so please bear with us whilst we try and cope!
“Most importantly we hope you all have a fantastic time in our beautiful location and that we all enjoy the game.”
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.