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.
On a day when South Shields said farewell to club legend Barrie Smith, a new arrival stole the show as Jason Gilchrist scored a hat-trick in an entertaining 4-2 win over Dunston.
Smith pulled on the claret and blue shirt for one last time in the pre-season friendly and was given a tremendous reception as his nine years of superb service to the Mariners was recognised.
Shields went behind twice in the first half at Mariners Park, with a Gilchrist goal sandwiched in between.
Gilchrist scored twice more after the break, after a deflected effort from distance by Nathan Lowe had brought the home side level.
The Mariners went into the game without a number of players, with Liam Connell, Blair Adams, Jon Shaw, Phil Turnbull, Josh Gillies, Myles Boney, Craig Baxter, Callum Guy and Lee Mason all unavailable for selection.
The visitors opened the scoring in just the fourth minute as Liam Marrs sent in a teasing low cross from the right which Michael Pearson was able to nudge home in the six-yard box.
Shields threatened an equaliser when a Robert Briggs shot from 25 yards whistled over the crossbar, and gradually found their feet.
They got back on level terms on 20 minutes when Smith helped to win possession deep in the Dunston half and in the confusion which followed, the ball eventually fell to the feet of Gilchrist, who made no mistake from close range.
Smith was withdrawn to a standing ovation in the 23rd minute as fans, players and staff were given the opportunity to show their appreciation for a player who won six trophies and made over 300 appearances during his nine years with the Mariners.
Luke Daly had an opportunity to put the Mariners into the lead when he weaved his way through from the right and rounded goalkeeper Karl Dryden, but he sent his effort from a tight angle into the side netting.
Adam Thurston and Gary Brown both had attempts from distance as the game neared half-time but Dunston retook the lead four minutes before the break as Liam Brooks turned in the penalty area before picking out the bottom corner.
Shields built up some momentum early in the second half and equalised just before the hour mark when Briggs rolled a free-kick into the feet of Lowe, whose long range piledriver took a huge deflection before nestling in the opposite corner.
The Mariners went on to enjoy their best spell and almost went ahead as a sweet strike from Brown was deflected wide.
Thurston also went close with a similar effort but Shields eventually got their reward when Daly’s corner from the right was headed across the area by substitute Millenic Alli before being nodded in by Gilchrist from close range.
More chances came and went for the home side, who did double their lead in the 73rd minute as a defensive clearance fell to the feet of Gilchrist, who took the ball round Dryden before completing his hat-trick with a composed finish.
Dan Wright almost added to the scoring soon after when he got on the end of a Gilchrist cross, but his header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Smith was reintroduced with 10 minutes left to another rapturous reception and Lowe almost scored Shields’ fifth during his time on the pitch, but his effort from the edge of the box flashed wide.
Shields will complete their pre-season schedule with a trip to Ossett United next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Coombe, Smith (c) (Wokoma 23), Charlton (Lockey 80), Lowe, Morse (Trialist 67), Brown (Smith 80), Daly (Wright 73), Briggs (Thompson 67), Gilchrist, Thurston (Biwer 73), Foley (Alli 49).
Goals: Gilchrist (20, 64, 72), Lowe (59).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields made it six consecutive wins as they overcame Workington AFC by two goals to nil on Tuesday.
Robert Briggs calmly converted a penalty just before the break after captain Jon Shaw had been fouled in the box.
The in-form Nathan Lowe then sealed the three points with a free-kick that proved too powerful for Aaran Taylor midway through the second half as Shields maintained the pressure on league leaders Farsley Celtic.
Joint manager Lee Picton had said after watching his side beat Hednesford Town on Saturday that the Workington clash would be a “different test altogether”.
And that rang true in the opening exchanges as a bobbly pitch prevented the Mariners from getting into their normal passing stride.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors on 15 minutes, however. After an initial free-kick was cleared, midfielder Lowe made a brilliant tackle to win back the ball before his snapshot was gathered by Taylor.
Two minutes later the hosts nearly took the league for themselves. David Symington curled a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards on the left of the box, but it curled just past Liam Connell’s upright.
In truth, it seemed likely that this contest would be settled from a set-piece, with both sides proving to be more dangerous from dead ball situations than open play.
This time, it was striker Ben Harmison who came close as he connected with Phil Turnbull’s deep free-kick but it lacked any placement, allowing the keeper to make a routine save.
Shields continued to pose a threat from set-plays. Phil Turnbull swung a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area, and skipper Shaw was hauled to the ground as he tried to meet the delivery. The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot.
Briggs, who has been in superb goalscoring form this term, stepped up from 12 yards and placed his penalty into the right hand side of the net.
Just after the break, shot-stopper Connell was called into action for the first time as he did well to get behind Dan Carmichael’s sweet strike from distance.
Just as in the first period, set pieces seemed to be the more likely opening for both teams, so Lowe was presented with a great opportunity to extend his side’s lead as Luke Daly was fouled on the right hand side of the box.
From 20 yards, he stepped up and powered a drive that proved to be too well placed and powerful for Taylor, who got a hand to it that was insufficient keep it out of his goal.
From this point on, the Mariners looked comfortable as they saw out another vital three points in the season run-in.
With victory, Shields extended their winning form to six consecutive victories, keeping in touch with leaders Farsley Celtic, and keeping their promotion hopes very much alive.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Briggs (Lough 45), Lowe, Daly, Bell (Cogdon 84), Harmison (Mason 71).
Goals: Briggs (42), Lowe (78).
WORDS: Chris Erswell. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.