South Shields secured a third successive promotion at a buoyant Mariners Park with a comfortable 3-0 win over Glossop North End on Tuesday.
The Mariners did not look back after Carl Finnigan opened the scoring after just 20 seconds in front of a crowd of more than 1,400.
Gavin Cogdon quickly made it two and he added a third before the half-hour mark to make the points as good as safe.
Shields saw the game out effectively to ensure they will play in next season’s Evo-Stik Premier Division as their remarkable ascent up the football pyramid continues.
They could not have started any better against Glossop, with Finnigan finishing off a flowing move after the hosts won the ball from kick-off.
Cogdon got in behind on the right and squared for his strike partner, who made no mistake from close range.
It was Cogdon’s turn to get on the scoresheet in the eighth minute, with in-form Lee Mason at the heart of the move which led to the goal.
He drove forward and played a superb reverse pass to Cogdon, who brought the ball a bit further forward before firing in low via the post.
Shields played some terrific football in the first half, though Glossop did have some moments of their own as they tried to fight back.
Benjamin Richardson was their biggest threat, and he forced Liam Connell into a good low save in their first real opportunity of the game.
The home side started to dominate again after that, and almost netted their third when a Julio Arca cross from the right was brilliantly cleared off the line.
Mason also had two efforts blocked before Cogdon added the third goal in the 29th minute.
He twisted and turned in the box before finding the net via a deflection as he continued to cause the visitors no end of problems.
Shields threatened to run riot in the remainder of the first half, but Glossop did well to keep the score down.
At the other end, Craig Baxter did superbly to block from Richardson, who was also denied by Connell.
The Mariners were undoubtedly the team in the ascendancy, though, and they almost went four up when a Robert Briggs free-kick from deep was headed towards goal by Finnigan but brilliantly tipped over by goalkeeper Russell Saunders.
Cogdon went close to scoring his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time, but his effort from the edge of the box was deflected just past the post.
Shields were not as free-flowing going forward in the second half, but rarely looked under any real threat.
Cogdon and Finnigan continued to link up well, and they almost combined for a fourth goal when Finnigan played the ball to his team-mate, who saw a low shot saved by Saunders.
Baxter volleyed over from a Finnigan cross soon after, while at the other end, Shields twice somehow scrambled the ball to safety just as Glossop seemed set to pull a goal back, with Richardson missing an open goal.
The Mariners attempted to add some gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages, with substitute Louis Storey having a powerful effort blocked before Jon Shaw volleyed over.
Substitute Matty Pattison also went close after being played in by Briggs, but his shot across goal went inches wide.
Another close shave saw Cogdon cut inside from the left and fire just wide, and Finnigan was unlucky to see another effort palmed away by Saunders.
There could have been more goals, but three were more than enough for Shields.
They are on their way up again.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Storey 57), Richardson, Briggs, Cogdon (Sullivan 76), Finnigan, Mason (Pattison 46). Subs not used: Woolston, Holmes.
Goals: Finnigan (1), Cogdon (8, 29).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields go into Tuesday’s game against Glossop North End at Mariners Park knowing just a point would be enough to secure their promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
The Mariners are hoping a bumper crowd will be in attendance to cheer the team on as they attempt to tick off their primary target for the season.
The situation surrounding promotion – and why Shields are just a point away from securing it – can be read by clicking here.
They are certainly not taking anything for granted against Glossop, though, having been given a tough test by the Lancashire side in the reverse fixture in March. The Mariners went on to win that game 3-1.
Ahead of the match, Shields joint manager Graham Fenton has praised his players for the commitment they have shown this season.
He said: “The players put so much time and effort in for the football club in terms of travelling all around the north of England, leaving their jobs early when they need to, jumping off a bus and then hearing everyone presuming that they’re guaranteed three points.
“It’s not like that.
“Football is a tough game and you have to be on top of things physically and mentally all the time.
“Over the course of the season, you have dips physically and mentally, and at the moment our lads have shown that they’re probably physically and mentally tougher and stronger than anyone else in the league.”
Glossop go into Tuesday’s match sitting 10th in the table and with a chance of making the play-offs.
On the test they will present at Mariners Park, Fenton added: “They like to play out from the back, and their big centre-back is a good player who is tidy on the ball and takes chances.
“It’s not long since we played against them in really difficult conditions at their place.
“If the weather forecast is right, I think it will be really different this time.
“It will be a nice evening at Mariners Park and hopefully we can achieve a positive result.”
After a superb atmosphere was generated at the ground during Saturday’s win over Colwyn Bay, Fenton is hoping for more of the same.
He said: “It’s always nice if you can gain promotion at home instead of away.
“Hopefully we can put on a really good performance in front of the supporters again.
“I’d like to thank them for Saturday, too, because they were magnificent.
“They supported us really well and seemed to really enjoy watching the football in the first half, and then they stayed with us in the second half when perhaps we weren’t on top of our game and just managing it to see it through.”
Shields will be without Barrie Smith and Anthony Callaghan for the 7.45pm kick-off, and there is a doubt over Matty Pattison.
Admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields battled to a 3-1 win at a snowy Glossop North End on Saturday as they ended a run of three weeks without a league game.
The Mariners had been left frustrated over recent weeks after a host of postponements stalled their bid for promotion from the Evo-Stik North Division.
They were in determined mood against Glossop, and opened the scoring in the second minute when Carl Finnigan flicked home his 21st goal of the season.
The hosts levelled just after the half hour mark, but within two minutes of that, Shields were ahead again as Jamie Holmes slid in a cross from Gavin Cogdon.
The points were sealed in the second half when Robert Briggs converted a penalty after an incident which saw Glossop goalscorer Benjamin Richardson sent off.
Snow blizzards and gusts of up to 45mph struck during the match at the Arthur Goldthorpe Stadium, providing difficulties for players and supporters alike.
The teams entered the pitch amid a heavy snow shower, and it was the Mariners who adapted to the conditions better in the early stages.
It took them less than 100 seconds to open the scoring when Darren Lough retrieved the ball on the left of the penalty area and sent it across the box, where Finnigan flicked it home to give the away side a perfect start.
With Gavin Cogdon back in the team after a lay-off with a hamstring injury, Shields looked threatening almost every time they attacked.
They almost made it a quickfire double when Holmes got in behind on the right, but goalkeeper Russell Saunders scrambled his shot behind for a corner.
Saunders also denied Louis Storey as the midfielder tried to convert from a tight angle, and Shields went even closer when Cogdon menacingly brought the ball inside from the right before striking an effort against the post.
Glossop started to gain a foothold in the game towards the half-hour mark, and when Darrhyl Mason got through on the inside-left of the area, Liam Connell had to be alert to make a smart stop.
A corner which followed soon after also saw the hosts go close when Courtney Meppen-Walter hit a shot which took a deflection and went narrowly wide.
The short period of pressure paid off when Glossop – with the wind at their backs – levelled as a ball across goal by Callum Spooner was converted from close range by Benjamin Richardson.
Shields’ response was instant, and within two minutes they had restored their advantage.
Cogdon was again central to things as he sprinted in behind on the right before squaring for Holmes, who forced the ball over the line with a sliding finish.
It could have been 3-1 soon after when Cogdon again cut in from the right, but this time he fired just past the post.
An even better opportunity fell the way of Finnigan six minutes before the break, but after Cogdon squared the ball from the right, he was unable to get clean contact on it and the chance went begging.
Shields almost paid for that in first half stoppage time when Richardson let fly from distance for the hosts, but Connell brilliantly tipped the ball over the bar to maintain his side’s lead.
The Mariners started the second half well, and almost went in front as Briggs’ ball forward took a deflection on its way through to Holmes, but Saunders did well to stretch out a leg and force the ball wide.
From the resulting corner, though, arguably the key moment of the game swung it decisively in Shields’ favour.
Briggs swung in the set-piece from the left and it was flicked on to Finnigan, who sent a header back towards goal.
Richardson tipped it over the bar with his hand, and after the referee spotted the infringement, he had no option other than to send off the Glossop goalscorer and award Shields a penalty.
Briggs sent Saunders the wrong way from the spot to all but wrap up the points.
The remainder of the game was a lesson in keep-ball from the Mariners as they conserved energy ahead of a hectic run of fixtures.
They had some opportunities to extend their advantage, but Storey, Graeme Armstrong and Briggs were all denied by Saunders, while at the other end, Connell saved from Spooner after a rare Glossop attack.
In all, it was a job well done for Shields as they remained two points behind leaders Hyde United, with three games in hand.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Pattison 77), Storey, Briggs, Cogdon (Armstrong 67), Finnigan (Mason 57), Holmes. Subs not used: Woolston, Ross.
Goals: Finnigan (2), Holmes (33), Briggs (pen 53).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.