Champions South Shields reached the 100-point mark for the third season in a row as a clinical display secured a 5-0 win over Kendal Town on Thursday.
The Mariners – who had already sealed the Evo-Stik North title two days earlier – demonstrated just why they had won the league in a superb first half performance.
Goals from Lee Mason, Graeme Armstrong, Carl Finnigan and an own goal by Paul Dawson put them four ahead before half-time, and Armstrong struck again towards the end to complete another thumping victory.
Kendal initially started the brighter of the two teams until Shields took the lead in the seventh minute.
Finnigan hit an effort from the edge of the box which former Mariners goalkeeper Josh Richardson pushed away, but Mason was on hand to sweep the ball home with a composed finish.
A visibly confident Mason had a chance to make it two soon after when he came inside from the left flank before firing a shot which was well blocked.
Within seconds of that, though, Shields did extend their advantage.
A wonderful flowing move led to Michael Richardson receiving the ball in some space on the right of the box, and his inch-perfect cross was powered in by the head of Armstrong from close range.
The third goal arrived on 26 minutes when Armstrong touched the ball through for Finnigan, and he took full advantage as he drove it into the bottom corner with a superb finish from just outside the area.
Shields were threatening to run riot as they celebrated their title win in front of their home fans.
Craig Baxter hit an effort over from distance and Louis Storey drilled an effort not far wide as they kept up the pressure.
The Mariners got their reward five minutes before half-time when Storey got in on the inside-right of the area before fizzing a ball into the danger area.
It cannoned against the unfortunate Dawson and into the corner of the net as the points were made well and truly safe.
With another game to come on Saturday, Shields were less potent after the break, with the team content to hold possession.
But they did find the net again 10 minutes before the end as a Robert Briggs corner from the left was headed in by Armstrong from six yards as he netted his fifth goal in three games.
Shields are at home to Colne on Saturday as they celebrate another superb season in front of what looks set to be a bumper Mariners Park crowd.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Pattison, Lough (Holmes 46), Morse, Storey, Richardson, Briggs (c) (Juul 67), Armstrong, Finnigan, Mason (Smith 59). Subs not used: Lister, Sullivan.
Goals: Mason (7), Armstrong (10, 80), Finnigan (26), Dawson (own goal 40).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE:
Monday’s Evo-Stik North Division match between South Shields and Kendal Town has been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
A rearranged date for the fixture at Mariners Park will be announced in due course.
South Shields were forced to settle for a second successive draw after coming from behind at Kendal on Boxing Day.
The table-topping Mariners fell behind early on, but Michael Richardson’s free-kick levelled things up on the stroke of half-time, with Shields defender Louis Storey claiming he got a touch.
Shields battled in the second half as they tried to find a winner, but found it difficult to break through on a testing pitch as their lead at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division was reduced to two points.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side let a two-goal lead slip as Trafford claimed a 2-2 draw at Mariners Park on Saturday, and they found themselves up against another set of plucky opponents at the ST&B Accountants Stadium.
Although the Mariners held much of the early possession, it was Kendal who had the game’s first chance, with Richard Seear shooting over from 20 yards after a Liam Connell pass went astray.
The hosts then took the lead on the quarter-hour mark after some impressive work down the left, and when the ball was played low into the box, midfielder Anthony Lynch did well to sweep it into the bottom corner.
Shields almost levelled things up within five minutes of that after a swift counter-attack, but Carl Finnigan’s effort went narrowly past the post after he was found by Gavin Cogdon.
Cogdon was a real danger to the home back-line, and he went close 10 minutes before half-time after the ball broke to him in the box, with goalkeeper Samuel Ashton doing well to hold onto his low shot.
The Mariners’ equaliser arrived in stoppage time as Richardson’s free-kick from the left appeared to take a deflection before squirming over the line, with Storey claiming he had the decisive touch.
After half-time, it was much of the same as both teams struggled to find any fluidity on a pitch which was becoming ever more difficult to play on.
Connell beat away an effort from Kendal forward Connor Gaul, while at the other end, Shields debutant Aksel Juul saw an effort saved.
The closest the Mariners came to finding a winner came as a ball forward fell the way of Cogdon, who fired a superb volley not far over.
Kendal possessed a threat too, and Daniel McGahon crashed an effort just over the crossbar from distance.
Jon Shaw was sent up front by the Mariners in the closing stages as they looked for a more threatening aerial threat, and it almost paid off as he headed a Matty Pattison cross narrowly over.
Pattison and Finnigan were denied by Ashton as the game ticked towards its conclusion, but Shields almost lost it in the final minute of stoppage time after losing possession just outside the penalty area.
Seear screwed his effort wide, though, as the Mariners came away with a point.
They are back in action on Saturday as they travel to third-placed Bamber Bridge, who have played a game less and trail Shields by five points.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Shaw, Storey, Arca (c), Richardson (Nicholson 82), Briggs (Pattison 32), Cogdon, Finnigan, Juul (Morse 71). Subs not used: Lough, Smith.
Goal: Richardson (45).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.