South Shields pair Julio Arca and Gavin Cogdon have had their outstanding form this season recognised after receiving honours at the Northern Premier League’s 2018 Player of the Year Awards.

A ceremony to celebrate the great and good of the league’s three divisions was held on Sunday at the Brooklands Holiday Inn, near Barnsley.

Julio was the star of the show, winning the coveted Evo-Stik NPL Show Fans’ Player of the Year accolade.

The midfielder was on a five-man shortlist for the award, which covers all three Evo-Stik divisions, alongside Basford United’s Liam Hearn, Altrincham’s Jordan Hulme, Grantham Town’s Lee Shaw and Scarborough Athletic’s Nathan Valentine.

Supporters were able to vote online for their favourite, and Julio was a popular winner.

Carl Finnigan was among 10 players who were highly commended for their performances, but just missed out on a place on the shortlist.

Arca was also named in the Evo-Stik North Division’s Team of the Year, alongside team-mate Cogdon.

They were among nearly 40 players honoured by Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder at the seventh running of the annual awards, still unique in the top levels of non-league football with the winners chosen by the league’s managers and fans.

As well as naming Hulme and Hearn as the two runners-up for the fans’ award behind Arca, former Alfreton, Halifax Town, Oxford United and Northampton boss Wilder also unveiled a Player of the Year and Young Player of Year in each of the NPL’s three divisions, as well the players chosen in three Teams of the Year.

More than 300 guests at the awards ceremony, broadcast live on Facebook and Twitter for the second season running, saw Altrincham’s Hulme, Scarborough Athletic’s Michael Coulson and Basford’s Liam Hearn collect the top Player of the Year accolades in the Evo-Stik League’s top flight and North and South divisions respectively.

Colne’s Alex Curran, Corby Town’s Jordan Crawford and Warrington Town’s Dylan Vassallo collected their division’s respective Young Player of the Year accolades, while the competition’s next generation of stars coming through the the NPL Football Academy were also honoured at the event for the third year running.

Originally the brainchild of former Manchester City goalkeeper and NPL stalwart Alan Ogley, Sunday’s awards also saw the NPL unveil its Top 100 Players of all-time and Team of all-time as part of the competition’s 50th anniversary celebrations this season.

South Shields avenged their early-season defeat to Colwyn Bay with a comfortable 4-1 victory over the Welsh side at Mariners Park on Saturday.

The Mariners were in control from the start against the Bay, and took the lead in the fourth minute when Gavin Cogdon finished off a flowing move.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when goalkeeper Matt Cooper was given his marching orders for a foul on Cogdon, and from the resulting free-kick, Julio Arca curled a sumptuous effort past substitute Kris Leigh.

Darren Lough fired in his first goal for the club eight minutes before the break and, although Danny Andrews pulled one back for the Bay, Shields were never seriously troubled.

They completed the scoring in the 56th minute as Robert Briggs rattled home a penalty to leave the Mariners just once point short of securing promotion.

It’s a slightly complicated process, but a point would mean that, even if Shields were overhauled by Scarborough Athletic and Hyde United and finished third, they would be guaranteed to possess the best points per game ratio of any third-placed finisher at their level in the country.

The third-placed team with the best points per game ratio at this level will earn automatic promotion.

Up against a Colwyn Bay side which caused them many problems in an early-season 4-2 defeat, a difficult afternoon was expected at Mariners Park for Shields on Saturday.

But the Mariners got out of the blocks swiftly and took the lead in just the fourth minute.

Arca sprayed a glorious pass from the centre of the park to Lee Mason on the right, he beat his man and squared for Cogdon to bundle the ball home.

The Mariners continued to cause their opponents problems before a key moment came midway through the first half.

With Cogdon running through on goal, goalkeeper Cooper came charging out of his area and brought the striker down.

Perhaps harshly, he was shown a straight red card, and his replacement Leigh’s first action was to pick the ball out of his net after Arca curled a sumptuous free-kick into the corner of his goal.

Shields were rampant and almost had a third when Jon Shaw clipped a pass forward for Cogdon, who turned his defender and rattled an effort against the foot of the post.

Carl Finnigan was denied by a close-range save soon after and Jamie Holmes went close before the points were eventually wrapped up.

Lough drove inside from the left and played it to Cogdon, who flicked it back into the left-back’s path.

First time, he sent a bullet of a shot into the top corner as Lough registered his first goal for the Mariners – 15 months after joining.

The Welsh side regrouped, and pulled a goal back a minute before the break when an Andrews effort from distance took an awkward bounce and found the top corner.

There were chances at both ends at the start of the second half, with Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell doing well to keep out a free-kick from Josh Brizell before Finnigan was denied at the other end.

The Mariners’ fourth goal arrived when Finnigan was fouled in the area and Briggs made no mistake from the spot.

Shields mostly conserved energy in the closing stages, though Luke Sullivan, Shaw and Holmes all went close, while at the other end Connell saved well from Andrews.

The Mariners had moved three points closer to promotion. One more will do.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Ross 68), Mason, Briggs (Richardson 57), Cogdon, Finnigan (Sullivan 57), Holmes. Subs not used: Woolston, Biwer.

Goals: Cogdon (4), Arca (24), Lough (37), Briggs (pen 56).

Attendance: 1,535.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.

South Shields returned to the top of the Evo-Stik North Division after a five-star performance saw off the 10 men of Ossett Town on Tuesday.

The visitors were up against it from the start and, after Dillon Morse had headed Shields in front, their task was made even harder when striker Nicky Boshell was sent off for a foul on Julio Arca.

The Mariners pushed on from there, with Robert Briggs making it 2-0 from the penalty spot before Gavin Cogdon, Julio Arca and Louis Storey all netted in the second half to complete the job.

Hyde United’s draw at Bamber Bridge allowed Shields to climb back to the top of the league and strengthen their promotion bid.

They were on the front foot from the start against Ossett, and almost took the lead early on when Carl Finnigan’s effort was cleared off the line.

Jon Shaw headed wide from a Robert Briggs free-kick as Shields continued to probe, and their breakthrough arrived in the 14th minute as Arca’s cross from the right was headed in at the back post by Morse.

Boshell was sent off in the 21st minute for an awful challenge on Arca in the centre of the park, and there was no way back from there for Ossett.

It was soon 2-0 when, after Cogdon was fouled in the area, Briggs stepped up to rattle the penalty away and surely make the points safe.

Jamie Holmes and Storey went close before half-time, but a five-minute blitz in the second half ultimately added the gloss to the scoreline.

Cogdon scored Shields’ third as he tapped into an empty net following a fine move, with Darren Lough stroking the ball across the box for him.

Arca was soon in on the act, too, as he reacted quickest when a Briggs drive was parried to find the net.

And then it was Storey who completed the scoring as he diverted another Briggs shot from distance in via his head.

The Mariners could have made the scoreline even more convincing in the closing stages, but ultimately kept the ball and conserved some energy ahead of a hectic period.

They are next in action on Thursday when they travel to Workington in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw (Smith 63), Morse (Mason 71), Arca (c), Storey, Briggs, Cogdon, Finnigan (Richardson 34), Holmes. Subs not used: Woolston,

Goals: Morse (14), Briggs (pen 25), Cogdon (62), Arca (65), Storey (67).

Attendance: 973.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.