South Shields progressed to the fifth round of the National League Under-19 Alliance League Cup with a superb 5-2 win at Mansfield Town on Wednesday.
The young Mariners have been in terrific form and continued that with a fine showing in Nottinghamshire.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side were in command in the first half, racing into a 4-1 lead.
Goals from Sam Hodgson, David Allasan, Olly Scott and Ethan Biwer did the damage as Shields took what appeared to be an unassailable advantage into the second half.
Mansfield responded well after the break, but a goal from substitute Dom Minchella wrapped up an impressive victory for the Mariners as they marched into the next round.
Picton was satisfied with the performance of his team.
He said: “We played some really attractive stuff at times, particularly in the first half.
“We led 4-1 at half-time and unfortunately allowed our levels to drop a little bit in the second half, but we still had enough to see out the victory.
“Overall it was a very pleasing performance and one we can take great heart from.
“For us to travel that far and come away with a result like this is brilliant.
“Fingers crossed we get a good home draw in the next round to give us the best possible opportunity of progressing further.”
SSFC Academy team to face Mansfield Town: Bramley, Biwer, Devine, Bexton, Onarbay, Lockey, Thompson, Scott, Hodgson, Guy, Allasan. Subs: Patterson, Elcoate, Minchella, Colquhoun.
Goals: Hodgson, Allasan, Scott, Biwer, Minchella.
The club’s Under-19s are also in fine form in the league, and sit third in the table heading into their next fixture, away to Eccleshill United on Wednesday, January 30.
They are 11 points behind leaders Guiseley with three games in hand, and six points behind second-placed Gateshead, who have played four more games.
The young Mariners’ most recent outing in the league saw them come from behind to defeat York City 2-1 at Silksworth Sports Complex on Wednesday, January 9.
After falling behind, Max Cowburn drew Shields level on 73 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.
The young Mariners finally got their rewards against impressive opposition when Sam Hodgson netted the winner 13 minutes from the end as Shields leapfrogged their opponents in the table.
It promises to be an exciting end to the season for the Under-19s as they battle for silverware on two fronts.
Ethan Biwer and Ryan Colquhoun became the first players born after the turn of the millennium to make a first-team appearance for South Shields on Tuesday.
The Academy pair were brought on in the second half of the Integro League Challenge Cup first round tie with Farsley Celtic at Mariners Park.
Ethan, who turned 17 last month, replaced Alex Nicholson at right-back after 57 minutes of the contest, while Ryan came on in place of Andrew Stephenson to slot in at centre-back for the final nine minutes.
Ryan became the youngest player to appear at first-team level for the Mariners in the club’s history, aged 16 years, four months and 12 days.
Their first-team debuts were rewards for their excellent start to the season with the Academy.
Ethan said: “It was great to get out onto the pitch with the first-team and get some minutes in. It was a great honour to make my debut.
“I was nervous when I first came on, but the lads were really welcoming and helped me settle into the game. I felt quite comfortable.
“The fans cheered an early tackle I made and that just gave me even more energy.
“I just want to keep kicking on now and hopefully get some more opportunities in the future.”
Joint manager Lee Picton said: “When Ethan first came on, he got a fantastic roar from the crowd, and you can’t buy that for a young player. The crowd gave him fantastic support, and it was really great to see.
“Ryan Colquhoun was put in the squad because he showed fantastic character and personality in the FA Youth Cup game against Spennymoor last week.
“He made a mistake on Tuesday and paid the price for it, which happens to everybody. We still think it was the right thing to do to bring the two lads in, and they will undoubtedly gain massively from the experience they had.
“I am in no doubt whatsoever that Ryan will take it on the chin, learn from it and come back from it a better and stronger player. The future is really bright for him.”
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGES: Peter Talbot and Kev Wilson.
South Shields survived late drama as they saw off Farsley Celtic on penalties to book their place in the second round of the Integro League Challenge Cup.
The Mariners looked to be cruising into the second round of the competition when second half goals from Michael Richardson and Jon Shaw put them into a commanding lead.
However, EVO-STIK Premier Division side Farsley hit back on 89 and 93 minutes to send the tie to a penalty shootout.
The hosts scored all five of their spot kicks to progress despite the late disappointment of Farsley’s comeback as they held their nerve in the end.
It had been a somewhat disjointed affair at Mariners Park, with neither side able to find their rhythm in the first half.
Andrew Stephenson went close for Shields in the early stages when his stunning curled effort clipped the crossbar.
The visitors were not far away from taking the lead themselves 10 minutes before half-time, with Adam Priestley getting in behind before smashing his shot into the side netting.
Stephenson was left frustrated again soon after when his header from a Matty Pattison free-kick – which was destined for the top corner – was clawed away by Farsley goalkeeper Kyle Trennery.
The Mariners improved after the break, and after Barrie Smith hammered an effort just over, they took the lead soon after.
Stephenson sent a superb ball over the top for Richardson, whose lob beat Trennery and just bounced in.
Shields had momentum and soon doubled their advantage when an excellent left wing cross from Darren Lough was clinically headed home by Shaw.
The visitors almost got back into it when a shot across goal by Ben Atkinson was palmed away by Liam Connell, and the rebound from Luke Parkin was tremendously blocked by Louis Storey.
Smith, Richardson and Luke Sullivan all went close to wrapping it up, but Farsley kept the game alive.
Mariners academy duo Ethan Biwer, 17, and Ryan Colquhoun, 16, were brought on in the second half as they made their first team debuts for the club.
Colquhoun, in fact, became Shields’ youngest-ever player, aged just 16 years, four months and 12 days.
James Pollard pulled a goal back out of the blue on 89 minutes when his magnificently struck free-kick from distance went in via the post.
An unlikely late comeback saw the visitors equalise deep into stoppage time when Luke Parkin stepped up to slot home a penalty.
In the end, though, it was spot-kicks which came to Shields’ rescue.
Richardson, Sullivan, Robert Briggs, Louis Storey and Shaw all converted their penalties, and just one Farsley miss – which hit the bar – was enough to seal the Mariners’ progress as they avoided making two cup exits in a week, having been beaten 2-1 by Hartlepool United in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson (Biwer 57), Lough, Shaw (c), Storey, Briggs, Richardson, Smith, Sullivan, Stephenson (R Colquhoun 81), Pattison (Callaghan 72). Subs not used: Norton, Cogdon.
Goals: Richardson (53), Shaw (56).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.