Nathan Lowe’s thunderbolt inside the first two minutes set South Shields on their way to a season-opening win over Mickleover on an uplifting afternoon at 1st Cloud Arena.
Lowe’s strike into the top corner was an emphatic way for Shields to return to competitive action before second half goals from Jon Shaw and Jason Gilchrist completed what proved to be a convincing victory.
Mickleover played their part in an at times feisty game but it was the Mariners who were smiling at the final whistle as they climbed to the top of an admittedly primitive Pitching In Northern Premier League table.
It may have been Shields’ first competitive game in more than six months but there was little evidence of rustiness in the opening stages.
Darius Osei fed Gilchrist down the right and when he looked inside for options, Lowe was screaming for the ball 25 yards from goal. Gilchrist duly played it into his path and his good friend leathered it into the top corner to kick-off the season in style.
The home side’s bright start continued and it was Gilchrist who remained chief creator, with his cross from the left sent narrowly wide by a looping header from Osei.
Osei went closer still to doubling Shields’ advantage before quarter of an hour had even been played as he drifted in from the right before belting a left-foot shot narrowly over the crossbar.
It took Mickleover some time to settle into the game but when they did, they demonstrated their ability to provide a real threat to the Shields back-line.
They almost equalised on the half-hour mark when Declan Bacon’s low ball into the box was half-cleared as far as Andrew Wright, whose well-struck effort hit the base of the post.
If that was a warning for the Mariners, they were fired another one soon after as Wright fizzed in a dangerous cross from the right but no team-mate was on hand to convert.
Mickleover’s strong end to the first half saw them continue to threaten a leveller and they created another decent chance when Alex Morris whipped in a cross which found the head of the experienced Stuart Beavon, but he was unable to trouble Myles Boney.
Shields came out strongly at the start of the second half and Josh Gillies forced visiting goalkeeper Callum Hawkins into action early on as his low strike from distance was beaten away.
Lowe almost doubled his tally for the afternoon in spectacular fashion with a powerful free-kick from the left of the box which just cleared the crossbar, although many in attendance had mistakenly thought the ball had looped in.
The match entered a scrappy period as both sides picked up a number of yellow cards, but Shields broke the resistance of the away side on 68 minutes as substitute Robert Briggs’ superb free-kick delivery from the left was met at the back post by Shaw, who guided it past Hawkins with a brilliant header.
The Mariners were well on their way to an opening-day victory but had to remain alert at the back and were fired another warning of Mickleover’s threat when Anam Verma played in substitute Jordan Walshaw and his powerful strike forced Boney into an impressive one-handed save.
The visitors were left scratching their heads as to how they had not pulled a goal back two minutes before the end when Ben Garing headed against the post before Dillon Morse denied Beavon with an acrobatic goal-line clearance and Boney brilliantly blocked from Patrick Webb as the clean sheet was preserved.
The final word ultimately belonged to Shields, who added a third goal in stoppage time.
Jordan Hunter beat Alex Morris on the right and he found Gilchrist, who tucked in his first goal of the season from close range after some typically impressive movement from the striker had left him in space.
It was a pleasing return to competitive football for Shields, who travel to Warrington Town on Tuesday as they get their Emirates FA Cup campaign underway.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Brown 75), Shaw (c), Morse, Ross, Gillies (Briggs 63), Baxter, Gilchrist, Lowe, Osei (Jenkins 77). Subs not used: Turnbull, Verstraaten.
Goals: Lowe (2), Shaw (68), Gilchrist (90+3).
IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields continued their preparations for the new season with an impressive 3-0 victory over National League North side York City.
Captain Robert Briggs handed the Mariners a first half lead at 1st Cloud Arena, converting from the penalty spot after midfielder Callum Ross was fouled.
Nathan Lowe’s free-kick and an emphatic finish by Jason Gilchrist in the second 45 confirmed the victory for the Mariners.
Shields were back in action following Saturday’s postponed fixture against Blyth Spartans, and were immediately onto the front foot.
Lowe picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal, but his dipping half-volley passed just over the crossbar.
After a bright start, however, the visitors began to settle into their rhythm, and started to create chances of their own.
They came agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the 15h minute. Former Gateshead midfielder Paddy McLaughlin unleashed a venomous drive from the left hand side, which crashed off the post.
Minutes later, Jack Redshaw received the ball with his back to goal but his low effort was tame and Ross Coombe gathered comfortably.
Redshaw did have the ball in the back of the net in the 24th minute, after he had fired a low drive across goal into the far corner, but the linesman had his flag raised for offside.
Then, in the 36th minute, a long ball over the top was allowed to bounce, which was seized upon by Ross who was then brought down just inside the area.
The ever-reliable from 12 yards Briggs stepped up and rolled the penalty into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The home side burst out of the traps in the second half. Alex Kempster, playing against his former team, did brilliantly down the left hand side as he forced his way to the by-line, before cutting the ball back to Lowe.
The midfielder was chopped down on the edge of the area, but dusted himself down to dispatch a low-driven free-kick from the edge of the area into the bottom left hand corner.
Lowe was involved just minutes later as he slipped in Gilchrist on the right hand side of the box. He cut back inside the defender and fired a powerful shot into the right corner.
The Mariners’ second half onslaught continued just moments after the restart as Josh Gillies went close, but his 55th minute effort struck the foot of the post.
The Minstermen refused to be beaten, however, as they piled the pressure on, forcing some good defending from Shields, notably from Craig Baxter who took the full brunt of a volley from close range.
Shields thought they had added a fourth in the 80th minute as Will Jenkins’ lovely through ball was latched onto by Will McCamley, who calmly slotted past the onrushing keeper, but the winger was adjudged to be offside.
McLaughlin came close to reducing the deficit for City five minutes from time, as he forced substitute keeper Myles Boney to tip his long range effort over the bar.
South Shields: Coombe (Boney 46), Hunter, Baxter, Ross (Turnbull 72), Wade (Jenkins 46), Agnew, Gillies (Verstraaten 72), Briggs (c), Gilchrist (Osei 72), Lowe (Mason 72), Kempster (McCamley 64). Subs not used: Lockey, Thompson, Hodgson.
Goals: Briggs (pen 36), Lowe (49), Gilchrist (50).
York City: James, Kennedy, Tinkler, Newton, Spratt, Barrow, McLaughlin, Trialist, Bunn, Redshaw, Cassidy. Subs: Whitley, King, Jebson-King, Whitfield, Harrison, Dyson, Guilfoyle, Trialist, Trialist.
IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields registered their first victory of pre-season on an entertaining night against West Auckland Town at 1st Cloud Arena.
Goals from Nathan Lowe, a trialist and Will McCamley were enough for the Mariners against a strong West Auckland side featuring former Shields players Tom Flynn and Chris Hunter.
It was a positive night’s work for Shields as they showed improved fluency and peppered the West goal with efforts.
They took the lead in the seventh minute as Wouter Verstraaten claimed the ball on halfway and played it into the feet of Lowe, who took two touches before belting a shot which glanced the underside of the bar before finding the target.
The Mariners had an opportunity to double their advantage soon after when Alex Kempster surged down the right and cut inside before firing a left-foot effort past the post.
Shields were in control but their Northern League visitors pegged them back in the 19th minute thanks to some sharp play on the left as Craig Baxter was robbed of possession by Anthony Bell before he squared it to Mason Hurworth, who converted into an empty net.
The home side quickly regained the initiative and went close to going back in front when Jason Gilchrist’s shot from 20 yards was palmed behind by Flynn.
The Mariners had to wait until seven minutes before half-time to regain the lead, with Kempster running in behind down the left before his cross found the head of a trialist, who found the corner of the net.
There were numerous opportunities for a third goal in the remainder of the first half but Gilchrist was denied by the offside flag before Arron Thompson forced Flynn into a low save after some neat work in the middle.
Gary Brown almost made his mark in spectacular fashion 10 minutes into the first half following some superb one-touch play involving Robert Briggs and Kempster, but his eventual left-foot effort was parried. Shields kept the ball alive and a further shot by their trialist forced another save.
Callum Ross sent a long range shot not far wide from distance while the Mariners passed up a glorious opportunity for goal number three when Verstraaten progressed through the centre and opted to pass it onto Will Jenkins, who was unable to get an effort away. The ball eventually squirmed out to McCamley, whose shot trickled against the post as Shields were denied.
They did not have to wait too much longer for their third goal, though, and it arrived when Ross and Mathew Wade combined on the right and the latter sent in a cross which was retrieved by Sam Hodgson and laid off to McCamley, who fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Jenkins and Hodgson both had opportunities in the closing stages to add their names to the scoresheet but there were to be no further goals as Shields registered a 3-1 win.
South Shields: Boney (Coombe 74), Baxter (Wade 61), Adams (Croft 61), Ross (Thompson 30), Morse (Verstraaten 61), Verstraaten (Brown 30), Kempster (McCamley 61), Briggs (c) (Ross 61), Gilchrist (Hodgson 61), Lowe (Jenkins 61), McCamley (Trialist 30). Subs not used: Lockey.
Goals: Lowe (7), Trialist (38), McCamley (73).