South Shields recorded a fifth consecutive clean sheet and were rewarded with a fourth straight victory as a Robert Briggs penalty settled a Pitching In Northern Premier League encounter with Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
In their final league fixture before a month-long lockdown, the Mariners enjoyed the bulk of the possession and chances and deserved their win at the Gainsborough Martin & Co Arena.
They came up against an impressive goalkeeper in Tom Jackson, though, and were kept at bay until midway through the second half when Briggs converted a spot-kick following a foul on Jordan Hunter.
Shields will take their impressive form into one of the biggest games in the club’s history on Saturday when they travel to Cheltenham Town in the first round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Full report to follow.
South Shields: Boney, Sterry, Adams (McCamley 64), Shaw (c), Morse, Ross, Hunter (Baxter 83), Turnbull, Osei (Hindle 76), Briggs, Kempster. Subs not used: Thompson, Gillies.
Goal: Briggs (pen 71).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields registered a convincing 4-1 win at in-form Gainsborough Trinity as they moved five points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
The Mariners produced one of their most impressive performances of the season to strengthen their promotion hopes as they built on an early goal from Darius Osei.
Nathan Lowe doubled the advantage 11 minutes before half-time and the away side continued to press on after the break, with goals from Dillon Morse and Josh Gillies sealing the points.
Gainsborough pulled one back from the penalty spot towards the end but could do little to dent what was a superb day for Shields in Lincolnshire.
They looked in determined mood from the outset and had their first sight of goal as early as the second minute as Jason Gilchrist flashed a shot wide from a Dom McHale corner.
The Mariners were dominant in possession and received their reward on nine minutes as Jon Shaw lifted a ball over the defence into the left channel and Osei wriggled his way through before finishing well from a tight angle as he netted his first goal for the club.
Shields were playing front foot football and went close to doubling their advantage on a number of occasions, with Osei firing into the side netting, Lowe sending a piledriver just wide and Blair Adams drilling a low ball across goal which just evaded a touch.
The deserved second goal arrived in the 34th minute as Lowe pounced on a loose ball in midfield and drove forward before hammering a low effort past home goalkeeper George Willis.
There were two good opportunities for the Mariners to make it three before half-time, but Morse and Osei were both narrowly off target with their attempts.
Shields will have expected a strong response from their hosts early in the second half and Gainsborough obliged.
They provided an improved goal threat but were unable to seriously trouble Myles Boney in the Shields goal before the Mariners pressed on again midway through the second half.
Willis did well to tip a long range bullet from Lowe wide but from the resulting corner, the Mariners added a third as Gillies’ cross from the right bounced in the area and was pounced on by Morse, who smashed it past Willis.
A fourth goal was added 10 minutes before the end when Willis saved from Gilchrist before Robert Briggs headed the rebound against the bar the ball bounced to Gillies, who nodded home.
Gainsborough pulled a goal back five minutes from the end as Gregg Smith converted from the spot, but the points had long since been sealed by the Mariners.
They will hope to build on the victory when they travel to Bamber Bridge next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Verstraaten 80), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Baxter, Lowe, Gilchrist, Osei (Briggs 74), McHale (Gillies 46). Subs not used: Thompson, Ross.
Goals: Osei (9), Lowe (34), Morse (70), Gillies (80).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields are hoping for a triple fitness boost ahead of their important trip to in-form Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
The Mariners are two points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division heading into the clash with 16th-placed Gainsborough.
Trinity have been much-improved since the appointment of Curtis Woodhouse as manager in October 2019 and only recently saw an 11-match unbeaten run come to an end.
Shields will be hoping to get the better of them as they bid to return to winning ways and strengthen their hand in the race for promotion.
They could be boosted by the returns of Dillon Morse and Darius Osei tomorrow, while Blair Adams is also back to full fitness after coming on as a substitute in last Saturday’s draw against Buxton.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side won 2-0 in the reverse fixture at Mariners Park, but know the size of the task which awaits them when they travel to Lincolnshire.
Fenton said: “We always get a tough game against Gainsborough.
“Their new manager has got them going and they’ve had some decent results recently.
“We’re not expecting an easy game but you can say that across this league.
“Even when you play the teams in the bottom three you get a really difficult game.
“We have to raise our levels every single week to try to ensure we win three points.”
Saturday’s game could also see the return of Arron Thompson from a head injury, while Lee Mason is being assessed as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
A number of sides near the top of the table have squandered points over recent weeks, including Shields, and Fenton is appealing for greater consistency as the season reaches its business stage.
He added: “Last week against Buxton was disappointing because we can keep talking about other teams slipping up but we’ve been slipping up ourselves.
“We’ve got to get our own house in order and pick up three points regularly.
“We’ve won four points in our last two games so we can say that but our form at Mariners Park in particular has got to be better.”
Kick-off on Saturday at the Martin & Co Arena – which has a post code of DN21 2QW – is at 3pm.