Gavin Cogdon netted a superb hat-trick as South Shields came from behind to beat Mossley 5-1 at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Despite going a goal down early on, the Mariners produced a composed performance and thoroughly deserved their comfortable victory.
Cogdon equalised a minute before the break and set up Carl Finnigan’s 50th goal for the club just three minutes into the second half to settle any home nerves.
Shields then motored on, with Julio Arca putting them 3-1 ahead before Cogdon netted from the penalty spot and then completed his hat-trick late on.
Despite the win, Shields were knocked off the top of the table by Scarborough Athletic, who leapfrogged them on goals scored after thumping Kendal Town 7-0. The Mariners have two games in hand on Boro.
The Mariners started as they intended to go on as they immediately put Mossley under pressure.
Arca fired over in the early stages before visiting goalkeeper Oliver Martin produced an impressive double save to deny Matty Pattison and Jon Shaw at his near post.
Against the run of play, the Lilywhites took the lead in the 13th minute as an Alex Nicholson header back did not quite reach goalkeeper Liam Connell, allowing Liam Ellis to nip in and slide the ball home.
Shields were initially stung by that blow, but soon grew back into the ascendancy, with Pattison heading a decent opportunity wide before Robert Briggs and Nicholson were both denied by fine blocks after excellent work by Cogdon on the right.
Briggs had an even better chance on the half-hour mark when a fine move led to Pattison passing the ball to him eight yards out, but he sent an effort sailing over on the stretch.
The Mariners’ frustration ended a minute before half-time when Dillon Morse sent a superb ball over the top and Cogdon used his pace to outstrip the defence and then fire a left-footed effort across goal which Martin got a foot to, but could not keep out.
Shields took full advantage of their possession in the second half as they truly put Mossley to the sword.
Just three minutes after the restart, they took the lead as Cogdon sprinted across the pitch from the left and picked the perfect moment to lay it off for Finnigan, who sent a superb finish across Martin and into the bottom corner to score his 50th goal for the club.
Mossley responded well, and almost equalised when Connell did well to palm a shot from Ellis away from goal after he was played into an excellent position.
It did not take long for Shields to secure the breathing space they were seeking, though.
Briggs pulled a free-kick from the left low across the box to Arca, who had made a fine run and struck the ball sweetly into the bottom corner to reward the clever routine.
Martin was in impressive form between the sticks for Mossley, and but for him, the margin of Shields’ victory would surely have been greater. One of his fine saves saw him deny Finnigan in the 67th minute after the striker was found by Pattison.
Another flowing move reaped dividends for the hosts with 10 minutes left as Arca combined with Darren Lough on the left and the ball was swept into the box for Pattison, who was fouled. Cogdon took the responsibility and sent Martin the wrong way from the spot.
He almost got his hat-trick soon after, only to see his effort deflected narrowly wide, while Shaw was also thwarted when his header from point-blank range was pushed away by Martin.
Cogdon was to have the final say as he raced onto a flick-on from substitute Graeme Armstrong and beat Martin to it before toe-poking the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs.
There was still time for him to go close to adding his fourth, with Martin denying him from close range.
The damage had long since been done.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Briggs (Wright 59), Storey, Cogdon, Pattison (Richardson 82), Finnigan (Armstrong 67). Subs not used: Scott, Holmes.
Goals: Cogdon (44, pen 81, 88), Finnigan (48), Arca (55).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Mossley are the visitors to Mariners Park on Saturday as South Shields aim to register their first home win of 2018.
The calendar year got off to a false start for the Mariners as they were beaten 3-1 by Scarborough Athletic on New Year’s Day.
They recovered well from that to win 2-0 at Tadcaster Albion last Saturday, and now they will be looking to cement their place at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division.
Shields – who are league leaders on goal difference from Scarborough – will certainly not be in for an easy task against 13th-placed Mossley, though.
The Lancashire-based side came from behind to lead the Mariners 2-1 in the reverse fixture between the teams in October. Goals in the last three minutes from Julio Arca and Jamie Holmes sealed a dramatic victory for Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side, though, as they demonstrated tremendous character.
Picton is eager for Shields to go on a run of wins as they aim to open up a lead at the top of the table.
And he feels the Mariners owe their fans following the defeat against Scarborough.
He said: “The league table is a lot tighter than it was three or four weeks ago, and we’ve got to go on a run.
“We should be able to take a lot of confidence from last week’s performance, and we’re back at home.
“One thing I want to say ahead of the Mossley game is that we owe the fans a real performance at home.
“I’ve never said this before, but they were short-changed against Scarborough.
“All credit to the players for the way they reacted. We brought them in a day after the Scarborough game and spent a lot of time trying to put things right.
“Everybody took it in exactly the right way, and we pulled together as a group, as we needed to.
“I just really hope and pray, and I’m pretty confident after last Saturday’s performance, that we can give something back to the home fans.”
Striker Carl Finnigan will be aiming to score his 50th goal for the Mariners in Saturday’s 3pm kick-off. He is currently on 49.
There may be 20 points separating the sides going into the fixture, but joint manager Picton is not expecting an easy ride.
He added: “The reverse fixture was one of the roller-coasters we’ve had so far this season.
“I’m sure it will be difficult to beat them again.
“Like every team, they’ll probably put an extra 10% on their performance, because they’re playing us. That’s what we’ve just come to expect.
“We’ve got to be ready to match that, go beyond that and finish the right side of the line.”
Admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s. Season tickets and part-season tickets are valid for this fixture.
The turnstiles will open at 12pm, and a happy hour will be in operation until 1pm, with pints of Foster’s and John Smith’s available at £2 per pint.
Pints of Heineken will also be available for £2 in the marquee, while stocks last.
In the clubhouse, meanwhile, the 12.30pm Championship match between Cardiff City and Sunderland will be shown.
We hope you can make it to Mariners Park!
Right-back Alex Nicholson feels South Shields’ confidence has been restored after the Mariners ended a three-game winless run on Saturday.
Draws against Trafford and Kendal Town were followed by a home defeat to Scarborough Athletic on New Year’s Day as Shields briefly lost top spot in the Evo-Stik North Division.
A comfortable 2-0 victory at Tadcaster Albion on Saturday put the Mariners back on top of the pile, with a solid team performance getting them back on track.
Ahead of this Saturday’s game at home to Mossley, Nicholson feels the squad are in confident mood again.
He said: “After the Scarborough game, we knew we had to bounce back straightaway to get the momentum going again.
“We were all on the same wavelength and all worked hard ahead of the Tadcaster game, when we knew we needed to get the result in whatever way we could.
“We were solid and restricted their chances by keeping the ball away from them, and when we needed to do the dirty work, we were willing to do that as well.
“That result gives us confidence going into the Mossley game, when we will need to have the same mentality.
“It will be a tough challenge, but as long as we get our preparation right and are in the right frame of mind, hopefully we’ll be OK.”
Mossley gave Shields an extremely difficult challenge in the reverse fixture in October. They held a 2-1 lead until the 87th minute, when goals from Julio Arca and Jamie Holmes turned the game on its head and secured the Mariners a dramatic 3-2 win.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the sides, Shields are top of the league on goal difference from Scarborough Athletic, and Mossley are 13th.
Although Nicholson is not taking too much notice of the table at this stage, he insists the Mariners must be satisfied with their efforts so far.
He added: “You’d rather be the ones being chased than in the chasing pack, but we know we’ve got a big challenge for the rest of the season.
“It’s up to us to maintain the mentality that we’ll stay on top. We don’t want anyone to overtake us and just have to stay in the right frame of mind.”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 3pm, and the turnstiles open at 12pm. For full details, click here.
Season tickets and part-season tickets are valid for this fixture, but otherwise 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: Peter Talbot.