South Shields produced one of their most convincing performances of the season as they swept to a 4-0 win over Hyde United at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The Mariners were in command throughout as they moved level on points with second-placed Warrington Town in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Lee Mason put them ahead in the first half after good link-up with the terrific David Foley, and goals after the break from Craig Baxter, Nathan Lowe and Dillon Morse made the points safe.
Shields were anticipating a tough game against a side which had beaten them 4-1 in the reverse fixture in October.
However, they banished those memories with a display which had a bumper crowd of more than 1,850 purring.
Foley was at the heart of much of the Mariners’ impressive attacking play without getting on the scoresheet himself.
He signalled his intentions as early as the third minute when he got in behind the Hyde defence on the right of the area and cut the ball back towards Morse, but a defender nipped in first just as the Shields number five was about to slam it home.
Baxter had a good opportunity to open the scoring soon after when Lowe played him in, but he smashed an effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Hyde’s best spell of the match came around the 20 minute mark, but Liam Connell was on hand to make a smart stop from the dangerous Paddy Lane.
Lane again caused the Mariners problems when he advanced down the left and fired a ball across goal which Connell parried before Jon Shaw cleared the ball to safety.
Shields responded emphatically to Hyde’s bright period and opened the scoring in style in the 24th minute.
Robert Briggs won the ball 10 yards inside his own half and spread it wide to Foley on the right. He sprinted forward, beat his man with some superb skill and pulled a low cross into the area which Mason met first time with a piledriver into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
It was terrific play from both forwards, with Foley’s fine skill and end product met with equally impressive movement from Mason, and a finish to match.
Briggs was unfortunate not to double Shields’ lead eight minutes before half-time when his free-kick from 25 yards rattled the crossbar, but the hosts had plenty of positives to take into the half-time interval.
They picked up where they left off after the break and it took them less than three minutes to stretch their advantage to two.
Again, some fine movement was on display from Shields’ attackers as Blair Adams, Mason, Foley and Luke Daly linked up before Foley hit the post and the ball rebounded to the advancing Baxter, who slammed it home.
Hyde could have pulled a goal back moments later, but Morse brilliantly blocked from Kyle Brownhill and Connell made a good near-post save to deny Lane.
The points were then made safe in the 55th minute as Foley teed up Lowe 20 yards from goal and he thumped the ball past Hyde goalkeeper Peter Crook for his seventh goal in Shields colours.
The Mariners were rampant now and could have gone further ahead, but Morse was denied by a block and Lowe saw a free-kick saved by Crook.
The fourth goal eventually arrived a minute from the end after another spell of Shields dominance on the ball as Lowe curled in a teasing free-kick from the left which Morse helped on its way to the corner of the net with a glancing header.
It was an impressive performance and result for the Mariners, who were backed by a superbly vocal home support as they kept the pressure on Farsley and Warrington above them.
They return to action away to Marine next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 84), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs (Cogdon 80), Mason (Bell 71), Lowe, Foley. Subs not used: Mouanda, Thompson.
Goals: Mason (24), Baxter (48), Lowe (55), Morse (89).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Joint manager Lee Picton says South Shields have “eight cup finals” left as they aim for a fourth consecutive promotion.
Shields welcome Hyde United to Mariners Park on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on top two Farsley Celtic and Warrington Town.
Their entire focus is simply on what they can control, starting with the visit of Hyde.
Picton said: “With eight league games to go, it might sound like a bit of a cliche but we must treat each one almost like a cup final to ensure we get as close to maximum points as possible to keep the pressure on Warrington and Farsley Celtic above us.
“It certainly isn’t going to be easy against Hyde, though.
“We’ve had some very competitive games against them over the last couple of seasons and we’re expecting exactly the same on Saturday.
“We know from experience that on their day, Hyde can be a really dangerous opponent and as they showed here earlier in the season in the FA Trophy, they set up well to counter-attack and can be very dangerous on the break.”
Shields and Hyde were promoted together from the Evo-Stik North Division last season, and have already met twice so far this campaign.
Hyde beat Shields 4-1 in the reverse fixture in the league before falling to a 2-1 defeat at Mariners Park the following month in the FA Trophy.
That loss at Hyde proved to be something of a turning point for Shields.
It was their sixth defeat in seven games, but since then they have lost just three of their 28 matches.
Saturday’s game will be Shields’ first since beating Marine 2-1 on March 12, with last Saturday’s trip to Workington having been postponed.
The Mariners squad took part in an in-house friendly in the absence of a fixture, with a number of the club’s brightest academy prospects making the most of their chance to shine.
Shields go into tomorrow’s match without injured trio Carl Finnigan, Barrie Smith and Gary Brown.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
You can secure discounted tickets in advance by clicking here before midnight on Friday.
First half goals from Carl Finnigan and Dillon Morse guided South Shields into the third qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy as they defeated a spirited Hyde United side 2-1 at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The result was a fifth consecutive victory for the upwardly mobile Mariners, who were deserving of their win.
They had been pegged back in the first half by a Hyde equaliser, but wrestled back control before half-time and saw the game out well in the closing stages.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton were dealt a blow on the eve of the game as David Foley was ruled out with a knock picked up in training.
Finnigan – returning from a two-match suspension – took Foley’s place in the starting line-up and led a fine opening to the game from the Mariners.
They dominated possession and probed for the breakthrough before Finnigan provided it in style on 12 minutes.
He jinked his way past two defenders outside the area before bringing the ball forward and slamming it into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.
Hyde gradually became more effective and they threatened an equaliser with a clever corner routine which led to a shot from an unmarked Tom Pratt being deflected wide.
Shields looked the more potent outfit, though, and almost doubled their lead when a sublime flick by Finnigan on the right provided Craig Baxter with an opportunity to score his second goal in as many weeks, but goalkeeper Peter Crook kept out his low effort.
Hyde countered and almost shocked their hosts with an equaliser when a drive from Pratt was brilliantly tipped over by Liam Connell in the Shields goal.
The Mariners’ reprieve was short-lived as a Janni Lipka corner dropped into the six-yard box before being bundled in by Jordan Fagbola.
Hyde continued to be competitive as they showcased some of the play which helped them beat Shields 4-1 in the league the previous month.
Shields stuck to their task and produced some football which was extremely pleasing on the eye, notably when a fine move led to a cross by Blair Adams which Josh Gillies hit wide.
At the other end, Connell closed the angle well to deny Jerome Wright on the left of the box.
The Mariners were soon to reclaim their lead, though.
Finnigan played a free-kick short to Gillies 35 yards from goal and he whipped in a tremendous cross from the left which Morse guided in with his head at the back post.
Nathan Lowe had two half-opportunities to double Shields’ lead, but both efforts went wide of the post.
The Mariners pressed on in the second half and Lee Mason – who held the ball up superbly throughout the game – thrashed a shot which swerved not far wide within two minutes of the restart.
Lowe also saw an effort from range parried by Crook, but Shields’ bright start to the second half was almost thwarted in the 52nd minute.
Wright got to a loose ball first and sent a low shot towards goal which Adams scrambled to clear off the line, before captain Jon Shaw cleared another effort from Wright which was destined to drop in.
Connell saved smartly from Pratt later in the half as Hyde continued to pose a threat, while Connor Simpson fired wide from long range.
The closest Shields came to extending their advantage was 16 minutes from the end when Crook’s clearance fell to Finnigan 25 yards from goal and his attempted chip just failed to beat the goalkeeper.
Shields breathed a sigh of relief in the 87th minute as Pratt skewed a presentable opportunity wide, and that was to prove the final sighter of goal for the visitors.
The Mariners can now look forward to Monday’s third qualifying round draw.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Gillies (Harmison 64), Briggs, Finnigan, Lowe (Mouanda 77), Mason (Cogdon 86). Subs not used: Brown, Lough.
Goals: Finnigan (12), Morse (31).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.