Rampant South Shields progressed to the County Cup final with an impressive 4-1 win over Gateshead at Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare on Sunday.
Shields had the first opportunity of the game as Eve Gatens played a dangerous ball across the box, but the defender did well to clear.
The hosts hit the post immediately afterwards as Rebecca Ward floated a corner into the box, the goalkeeper misjudged the flight of the ball and it bounced against the woodwork.
It wasn’t long before Shields’ pressure paid off. Jade Dryden broke clear, composed herself and fired into the net.
Gateshead forced Erin Williams-Brown into her first save of the game, but the effort was tame and the goalkeeper matched it.
The Mariners were inches away from doubling their lead soon after as Abby Towers struck an effort towards goal from close range, but the Gateshead goalkeeper somehow managed to keep it out.
Gatens then broke through the middle and found herself one on one, but the Gateshead goalkeeper again produced a brilliant save.
Seconds afterwards, Shields did punish Gateshead. Becki McMahon did well to find space in the box and fired into the far corner.
Another goal almost arrived as a brilliant pass by Ward released Gatens, who rounded the goalkeeper, but the effort from a tight angle went narrowly wide.
Annece Legg was unlucky not to extend the Mariners’ lead as she hit a free-kick from close range off the bar. The home side continued to pressure the Gateshead defence.
Shields, again, could have had a third as Dryden played the ball across the box to Gatens, but the goalkeeper matched the effort and cleared the danger.
Gatens put the game beyond doubt just after the break with a sensational goal. She broke down the right wing, waited until the goalkeeper came out and chipped the ball into the net.
Seconds afterwards, Gateshead were reduced to 10 players. A late challenge on Gatens gave the referee no option but to send the Gateshead player off.
Sophie White had the ball in the net later for Shields, but the referee disallowed it for an alleged push in the back.
The pressure continued to be forced by Shields and they somehow didn’t extend their lead when Alex Miller’s pointblank header was brilliantly saved and White fired narrowly over.
Towers hit the post after being found by Dryden and Gateshead hit the post at the other end before pulling a goal back with a placed effort into the bottom corner.
Shields grabbed their fourth in the dying embers of the game to put the outcome beyond doubt. Ward found space on the right wing and played a great ball across, and Towers was there to tap home at the far post.
Speaking of her joy of reaching the County Cup final and the team’s overall performance, Megan Archibold said: “It feels great to win, and especially that emphatically in a semi-final.
“It was disappointing not to keep the clean sheet but the performance by every player was fantastic, and we didn’t stop until the final whistle.”
Picture by ID Event Photography.
South Shields will take on clubs including Blyth Spartans and Gateshead as part of a busy pre-season programme ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
The Mariners will travel to Croft Park to face Blyth on Saturday, July 24, with the game against another National League North side, Gateshead, to take place on Saturday, August 7 at 1st Cloud Arena.
Those fixtures are among eight which have been confirmed for pre-season so far, with four of them to take place at 1st Cloud Arena. It is hoped that a ninth match will be confirmed in due course.
Among Shields’ other opponents before the Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign gets underway are Stockton Town, Consett and Marske United.
The confirmed pre-season fixtures to date are:
Tuesday, July 13: Newton Aycliffe (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 17: Stockton Town (home, 3pm kick-off)
Tuesday, July 20: Consett (home, 7.30pm kick-off)
Wednesday, July 21: Crook Town (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 24: Blyth Spartans (away, 3pm kick-off)
Wednesday, July 28: West Allotment Celtic (away, 7.30pm kick-off)
Saturday, July 31: Marske United (home, 3pm kick-off)
Saturday, August 7: Gateshead (home, 3pm kick-off)
Admission and ticket details will be confirmed when it is possible to do so.
There was late drama for loan duo Dillon Morse and Blair Adams as Gateshead snatched a 1-0 victory against Guiseley in National League North on Saturday.
Macaulay Langstaff struck the only goal in second half stoppage time as Morse and Adams marked their debuts for the Heed with all three points and a clean sheet.
The pair are on a month-long loan at the International Stadium while coronavirus restrictions continue to prevent South Shields from playing matches or training together.
Morse was rewarded for his display with the man of the match award as Gateshead moved up to 10th in the National League North table.
The defender told Gateshead’s official website afterwards: “It’s a perfect debut for me.
“First and foremost, you want the lads to get the three points.
“Anything on top of that is a bonus, so I’m delighted.
“All of the lads were brilliant today – me and Blair were struggling for fitness so they’ve helped us massively.
“We’ve played once since the start of November so we were lacking some sharpness, but I’m just buzzing to be back on a football pitch at the end of the day.”