South Shields won the inaugural Puma Cup after scoring five times without reply in a superb second half performance at Ossett United on Saturday.
After the sides went in at half-time deadlocked, Jason Gilchrist and Nathan Lowe both netted twice after the break and Luke Daly completed the scoring for a dominant Shields.
The performance was arguably their best of pre-season as they completed their preparations for next Saturday’s season opener at Radcliffe.
Shields did not have things all their own way in an even first half, though, when they were also tested by difficult conditions and were playing against the wind.
Goalkeeper Myles Boney had to be alert early on to prevent Damian Reeves having a clear chance on goal, while at the other end, Ossett’s trialist goalkeeper got down well to keep out an effort from the edge of the box by Adam Thurston.
Boney did well to deny Luke Porritt as he let fly from just outside the area, and Jack Stockdill also went close for the home side as his free-kick struck the wall before bouncing narrowly past the post.
Lowe went similarly close at the other end for the Mariners before the away side created their best chance of the half.
Robert Briggs’ superb clip over the top beat the Ossett defence and found Josh Gillies, but the goalkeeper was out quickly to close the angle and make the save.
The trialist goalkeeper continued to make an impression when he palmed a Briggs free-kick from 25 yards over the bar, and he also pushed away a dangerous cross by Lowe which appeared destined to find the head of Gilchrist.
Shields were ruthless after half-time as they took the game to their hosts with real style.
They almost took the lead within two minutes of the restart as Gillies whipped in a free-kick from the right which was powerfully headed goalwards by Gary Brown, but a tremendous fingertip save denied him.
The Mariners did not have to wait too much longer for their breakthrough.
Daly received the ball on the right, beat his man and delivered a superb cross which Gilchrist struck into the back of the net with a first-time finish.
Shields won the ball back almost immediately from the restart and Lowe played in Gillies on the left of the area before continuing his run and finishing from close range when the return pass was slid across the box.
The Mariners were playing some sublime football and got their reward again when they carved Ossett open down the left and Gillies got in behind and played it across the area to Gilchrist, who made no mistake from point blank range.
Gilchrist played a major role in the fourth goal as he chased a seemingly lost cause into the corner, won the ball and played it inside to Lowe, who was clipped inside the penalty area.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Lowe comfortably beat the goalkeeper to score his second of the afternoon.
More scintillating play by Shields resulted in a fifth goal on 68 minutes, with Lowe playing the ball to the feet of Daly, who struck home from the edge of the area.
Ossett had opportunities to pull one back in the closing stages but the Mariners held firm to register a welcome clean sheet.
It’s now all eyes on next Saturday as they get their league campaign underway.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney (Connell 69), Brown (Charlton 66), Adams, Lowe, Morse (Lockey 72), Wokoma, Daly, Briggs (c) (Thompson 61), Gilchrist (Guy 69), Thurston (Alli 66), Gillies (Foley 61).
Goals: Gilchrist (49, 55), Lowe (50, pen 65), Daly (68).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Bob Scott.
Jason Gilchrist and Millenic Alli both got off the mark for South Shields as they netted their first goals for the club in an entertaining pre-season win at Hebburn Town on Tuesday.
Gilchrist scored twice and Alli netted the other as the Mariners went in at half-time 3-1 ahead, and Luke Daly got on the scoresheet in the second half as the away side won 4-3.
It was a decent response to Saturday’s 6-0 defeat at Guiseley for Shields as they returned to winning ways.
Graham Fenton and Lee Picton named a strong side for the South Tyneside derby, with captain Jon Shaw among those to return to the starting line-up.
They were rewarded for a crisp start when they took the lead in just the third minute, with Robert Briggs delivering an inch-perfect corner from the right which was powerfully headed into the corner of the net by Gilchrist.
The advantage was doubled three minutes later when a David Foley cross from the right was dropped by goalkeeper Andrew Jennison, with Alli on hand to turn the loose ball home.
The Hornets pulled one back in the eighth minute as the frantic start to the game continued. The lively Jack Elliott ran down the left flank and delivered a low cross which former Shields striker Graeme Armstrong converted from close range.
Another former Mariner, Michael Richardson, fired over from distance before Shields restored their two-goal lead on the half hour mark.
Foley rolled the ball into the feet of Gilchrist on the inside-left of the box and he turned his man before burying an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner.
Hebburn almost netted their second two minutes before half-time when Elliott got in behind on the left and fired a ball across the box which was met first time by Ben Dibb-Fuller, but Shields goalkeeper Myles Boney brilliantly denied him from point-blank range.
They had another chance to reduce the deficit early in the second half, but this time Elliott rifled a shot over after weaving his way through.
The Hornets did find the net again on the hour mark in bizarre circumstances as Richardson stole the ball in the penalty area, turned and fired past Boney.
He went close to adding his second and levelling the scores soon after, but this time his free-kick from 25 yards went not far wide.
The chances continued to come at both ends and Shields converted their next one, with Gilchrist carrying the ball through the centre and releasing Daly on the inside-right of the area before he beat Jennison.
A third former Shields player, Louis Storey, pulled another goal back eight minutes before the end for Hebburn but the hosts were unable to force an equaliser in the closing stages.
The Mariners will continue their pre-season preparations on Saturday when they host Dunston in a farewell game for club legend Barrie Smith.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Brown (Thompson 64), Adams (Charlton 74), Shaw (c) (Wokoma 52), Trialist, Briggs (Lowe 69), Foley (Daly 46), Thurston, Gilchrist, Mason (Turnbull 69), Alli (Wright 46).
Goals: Gilchrist (3, 30), Alli (6), Daly (72).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Luke Daly scored the winning goal with the last kick of the game as South Shields stayed in the title race with a 3-2 win over Scarborough Athletic on a pulsating afternoon at Mariners Park on Monday.
The Mariners had let a two-goal half-time lead – handed to them by a brilliant brace from Lee Mason – slip as play-off chasers Scarborough battled back in the second half.
But with Boro seeking a third goal which would have kept them in contention for the play-offs, they sent goalkeeper Tommy Taylor forward for a stoppage time corner which Shields countered from and scored, with Daly picking the perfect time to net his first goal for the club.
The result saw Shields climb above Warrington Town into second in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic heading into Saturday’s trip to Gainsborough Trinity, their final match of the season.
The Mariners were backed by their highest crowd of the season, with over 2,000 packing into Mariners Park.
The hosts started on the front foot and zipped the ball about well, with Jon Shaw sending an early header wide and Gavin Cogdon firing a shot into the hands of Taylor after a ball through by Daly.
Shields almost took the lead in the 20th minute when Blair Adams hit an effort which was pushed out by Taylor to the feet of Josh Gillies, but the ball came to him too quickly and ricocheted against his foot before being cleared.
Scarborough fired a warning of their own as they countered and Michael Coulson pulled a shot not far wide from the right of the area.
Midway through the first half, the breakthrough arrived for the Mariners.
Gillies raced away down the right flank and delivered a superb cross onto the right foot of Mason, who steered it home on the volley to score his 13th goal of the season.
Number 14 arrived just eight minutes later after a prolonged spell of Shields dominance which had seen Shaw and Robert Briggs both come close to doubling the lead.
Cogdon pressured Taylor into a hurried clearance and his miscue fell to Mason, who steered a terrific first-time effort into the net from 35 yards as the Mariners were rewarded for an excellent opening half-hour.
They could have made it three on the stroke of half-time, but after driving at the Scarborough defence, Gillies dragged a shot wide.
The Mariners picked up where they left off in the second half and looked certain to score when Gillies raced through on goal, but Taylor closed the angle well to make the save.
Scarborough gave themselves a foothold in the game when the prolific James Walshaw rifled the ball home from the edge of the box to half the deficit.
Boro were visibly lifted by the goal, although the big home crowd was given a lift when Carl Finnigan was introduced from the bench for his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in January.
Finnigan made an immediate impact as he played Daly in on goal, but he was denied his first goal for Shields by a superb fingertip stop by Taylor.
Liam Connell made a similarly impressive save soon after at the other end as he tipped a free-kick by Ryan Watson over the bar.
Scarborough were awarded a penalty with 14 minutes remaining following a foul in the box, and Walshaw looked to have given Shields’ title hopes a dagger blow when he rolled the spot-kick home.
He almost made it a hat-trick within two minutes of the equaliser, but his flick cleared the crossbar.
Shields gathered some momentum in the closing stages and Craig Baxter was inches away from giving them the lead in the 90th minute as his 20 yard effort flashed past the post.
They had to wait until the final kick for the vital breakthrough, and what a moment it was.
With Taylor racing back to his goal after going up for a corner, the referee played advantage following a foul on Connor Bell on the halfway line.
Daly picked up the loose ball and brilliantly flicked it past his nearest opponent before dribbling towards the goal-line and finishing from close range to create pandemonium at Mariners Park.
Shields’ title hopes were kept alive – in the most dramatic of circumstances.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs, Cogdon (Finnigan 64), Mason (Bell 68), Gillies (Foley 78). Subs not used: Brown, Mouanda.
Goals: Mason (22, 30), Daly (90+5).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.