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.
Teenage defender Ewan Simpson told of his delight after impressing in a 35-minute appearance for South Shields on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old, who is a regular in the Mariners’ reserves side, made his debut for the club during the 2014-15 season, playing twice during Shields’ final campaign in Peterlee.
He was a late call-up for the game against West Auckland Town on Tuesday in Northern League Division One, and was pressed into action following an injury to Louis Storey.
He slotted in well at left-back, and after an assured display, he was given a great reception from the Shields fans following the 4-1 victory.
Afterwards, Simpson said: “It was brilliant to get on the pitch and get some minutes.
“I didn’t expect to get on, but Louis unfortunately got injured and I went in at left-back.
“Danny Carson was at centre-back and he was brilliant alongside me, talking to me.
“We conceded, which we obviously weren’t happy about, but after the draw on Saturday, the lads were buzzing to win again.
“Coming off, the fans were brilliant towards me, which I didn’t expect. They were shaking our hands and high-fiving us, which was fantastic.”
Another SSFC Reserves player, Ryan Bolam, is also now registered for the senior side, having been transferred from Seaham Red Star.
Bolam is the youngest goalscorer for the club in the modern era, having netted on his debut against Stokesley in 2014 as a 16-year-old.
He spent time at Seaham last season and at the start of this season, combining that with playing for Shields’ Under-18s and latterly reserve teams.
He will continue to play for the reserves, but if called upon, the midfielder will also now be available for the first team.
The Mariners’ joint manager, Lee Picton, hopes the introduction of Simpson on Tuesday will send out a great message to all players involved with the club.
He said: “Ewan Simpson was a big plus for us on Tuesday, and I think it sends a great message throughout the whole club.
“He did a great job, and hopefully he’ll gain a lot from that.
“Who knows where that might go over the coming weeks and months?”
You can watch a full interview with Ewan at the top of this page.
VIDEO: Daniel Prince. STILL IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields returned to winning ways on Tuesday with a confidence-boosting 4-1 victory at West Auckland Town.
Carl Finnigan was on target twice while David Palmer and Robert Briggs also netted in the win over the league’s bottom-placed side.
Shields were without the likes of Julio Arca, Jon Shaw, David Foley and Craig Baxter, but did not let their absence affect them too much.
They were up against a West side still smarting from a 9-0 loss at Washington on Saturday, which resulted in the departure of manager Andy Campbell.
Shields quickly got on top of them, with a David Carson effort saved early on.
The visitors found the breakthrough in the 16th minute as Palmer slid a ball through for Finnigan, who swept it into the bottom corner.
Within eight minutes, the Mariners’ lead was doubled when Carson curled a cracking effort off the bar and Shields kept the ball alive. Eventually, it was worked to Palmer, who hit across the goalkeeper and in off the post.
Within moments, Danny Carson almost added his name to the scoresheet, but he was denied by a superb close range save from home goalkeeper David Knight.
Shields kept West out well, with the Mariners strong defensively. Danny Carson made one fine tackle to stop a home attack.
Three minutes before half-time, the Mariners added a third goal when they were correctly awarded a penalty for handball.
Finnigan made no mistake from the spot as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
After the break, Shields continued where they had left off, and Knight made an incredible save on the goal line to deny Dillon Morse.
Finnigan also had a great chance to seal his hat-trick as he was played in on goal, but he could only shoot over.
Teenager Ewan Simpson was brought on after 55 minutes after being promoted from the reserves side.
The 18-year-old performed superbly at left-back after replacing the injured Louis Storey.
The hosts secured an unlikely route back into the game when Darren Richardson turned in a cross from the right.
However, they never appeared likely to truly threaten a comeback, with Simpson stopping their only meaningful attack with a fine block.
Briggs sealed the points once and for all with nine minutes left as he curled a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards.
Warren Byrne came closest to making it five after being brought on, but the ball eventually ran away from him after he successfully closed down the goalkeeper.
Shields remain top of the table, and take a break from league action on Saturday when they travel to Esh Winning in the FA Vase.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Danny Carson, David Carson, Morse, Storey (Simpson 55), Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Byrne 84), Finnigan (Ramsey 78), Briggs, Phillips. Subs not used: Connell, Cogdon.
Goals: Finnigan (16, pen 43), Palmer (24), Briggs (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.