South Shields reached the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history with a crushing 6-1 win over Newport Pagnell Town at an electric Mariners Park on Saturday.
Cheered on by a ground record crowd of 3,161, the Mariners produced a majestic display to make it 19 victories in a row.
David Foley and Wayne Phillips fired them 2-0 up with two superb strikes within the first six minutes, and further goals from Dillon Morse and Robert Briggs saw Shields take a commanding 4-0 lead into half-time.
Gavin Cogdon added a double after the break to seal the home side’s passage into the last four, with Newport pulling one back towards the end.
The Mariners now await Monday’s semi-final draw.
There was a carnival atmosphere at Mariners Park some three hours before kick-off on Saturday, with supporters piling into the ground for such a big occasion.
The Shields squad was even treated to a deafening roar as they departed the dressing room for their warm-up, with space in the stands and around the pitchside fence already very limited even at that early stage.
By the time the players entered the pitch before the game, the crowd was already in fine voice and ready to back their team to the hilt.
Newport Pagnell started well, though, as they aimed to silence the home support.
They were almost rewarded in just the second minute, but the appropriately-named Elliot Sandy was adjudged to have brought the ball down with his arm before prodding into the bottom corner.
If that was the jolt Shields needed, they certainly responded in style.
Foley collected the ball 10 yards inside the Newport half and twisted past one opponent before unleashing a left-foot piledriver which glanced in off the post to send Mariners Park into raptures.
The atmosphere was sent up another notch when Shields scored a second stunning goal inside the first six minutes.
Michael Richardson found Darren Lough just outside the box on the left, and he played the ball into the path of Phillips, who, urged to shoot by the crowd, did just that with the outside of his left foot and watched his effort drive into the corner of the net in another devastating show of quality.
Shields were rampant and in the mood to wrap up a place in the semi-finals quickly.
Cogdon had an effort deflected wide and Briggs hit one over, while a Craig Baxter shot from the edge of the box bounced in front of goalkeeper Mark Osbourne, who managed to divert it over the bar.
The third goal wasn’t long in arriving, though, and it came when Phillips swung in a terrific corner from the right which an unmarked Morse powerfully headed home from close range.
Within two minutes of that, the Mariners all but sealed their victory with another tremendous goal.
Richardson sprayed a superb pass out to the left which was expertly controlled by Cogdon and played through to the advancing Lough on the inside-left of the box. He swept the ball across the area, where Baxter claimed it and passed it on again to Briggs, who smashed it into the roof of the net with a brilliant strike.
Newport battled gamefully and the match understandably hit more of a lull before Shields burst back into life in the second half.
Briggs saw a free-kick tipped wide by Osbourne, while at the other end, Liam Connell saved a one-on-one from Darryl Smith after a loose pass at the back.
Suddenly, though, Cogdon was played in on goal and when he was brought down, the referee pointed to the spot.
Osbourne got a hand to Cogdon’s penalty, but the power meant it was always destined to reach the bottom-right corner. Cogdon celebrated in style with his trademark handstand – which was brought to an abrupt end thanks to a sneaky push from Phillips!
It was Cogdon’s 20th goal of the season, and he had to wait just six minutes more for number 21.
It was another picture-book effort, with Cogdon playing the ball into the feet of substitute Andrew Stephenson, who flicked it first-time over a defender’s head and into the path of his team-mate, who volleyed it sumptuously into the bottom corner.
Try as they might for a seventh goal, Shields just could not add to the scoring in the final 20 minutes.
Foley hit an effort not far wide, while substitute Carl Finnigan’s shot was destined for the net, only to hit team-mate Stephenson.
Morse went close twice – with one header cleared off the line – while Foley struck the post with a powerful low effort after being played in on the inside-right of the box.
In the end, it was the visitors who would have the final say on proceedings as their endeavours were rewarded.
Sandy twisted and turned inside the area, and then curled a superb effort into the top corner to give the travelling support something to cheer.
There was a whole lot more to cheer for the record-breaking home crowd, though, as Shields qualified for the last four of the FA Vase for the first time.
There is now great anticipation ahead of Monday’s draw.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Nicholson 57), Briggs, Phillips, Cogdon (Finnigan 71), Richardson (Stephenson 67), Foley. Subs not used: Storey, Holden.
Goals: Foley (3), Phillips (6), Morse (23), Briggs (25), Cogdon (pen 64, 70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields and Newport Pagnell Town go head-to-head for a place in the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase at a sold-out Mariners Park on Saturday.
A ground record crowd of more than 3,000 is expected for the quarter-final tie.
Both clubs are aiming to reach the last four of the competition for the first time in their history.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton has challenged his side to deal with such a big occasion.
He said: “We’re all aware of how many tickets have been sold and what kind of experience it’s going to be for everyone concerned.
“We’re going to have to deal with the occasion. To be honest, there have been a couple of similar occasions already this season where we’ve perhaps not done ourselves justice or been near the top of our game.
“Hopefully those experiences that we’ve had already this season in front of a packed Mariners Park will give us the confidence to put a better show on.
“Fingers crossed we can do that, because if we do, we’ve already proved that we’re more than a match for any side at this level.
“It’s about focusing on us, getting our levels right and being as good as we can be on Saturday.
“Our sole focus has just been about just coming up with a real solid gameplan, and identifying how we’re going to go about our business and execute that gameplan.”
Newport Pagnell are 11th in the United Counties League Premier Division, and reached this stage of the competition with a dramatic 3-2 win over Northern League outfit Sunderland RCA in the last round, after extra-time. They had been 2-0 down at half-time and did not score their equaliser until deep into second half stoppage time.
Julio Arca insists Shields just have to concentrate on themselves, though.
He said: “I think this is going to be one of South Shields’ biggest games for many years.
“The managers have been saying to us that we need to perform better than we did in the last two big games we had at Mariners Park, against Morpeth and North Shields.
“We didn’t play they way we know we can in those two matches.
“It will be incredible to have so much support behind us. It’s fantastic for the club and shows how much it has grown over the last 18 months.
“Everyone’s eyes are going to be on us on Saturday and that is something we should be relishing as players.
“I believe it’s in our hands. If we perform the way we know we can, I think our quality will shine.
“We need to do the basics right, play the football we like to play and work hard.”
Shields defender Darren Lough is expecting an “incredible” atmosphere at Mariners Park.
He said: “We’ve had a big week of preparation and two training sessions to get us ready.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to put on a big performance in front of a big crowd.
“The atmosphere is going to be incredible and I just hope we can put in a performance to go into the next round.
“It’s a cup game and anything can happen on the day.
“They’re coming up here and know what we’re going to be like.
“It will come down to us and how we perform. If we play well, I’m confident we’ll win the game.”
Shields will be without injured trio Leepaul Scroggins, Barrie Smith and Stephen Ramsey, while Anthony Callaghan is cup-tied and Iulian Petrache is suspended.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm.
Tickets for the Buildbase FA Vase quarter-final between South Shields and Newport Pagnell Town at Mariners Park have sold out.
A crowd in excess of 3,000 – a record for Mariners Park – is expected to pack into the ground for the 3pm kick-off.
Supporters are reminded that there will be no on-the-day sales at the turnstiles.
The turnstiles will open at 11am, with drink deals – which can be viewed in full by clicking here – operational until 1pm.
There will also be live music entertainment provided by singer/song-writer Tony Bengtsson from 12pm.
We look forward to seeing you at Mariners Park this afternoon.
If you’re unable to make it to the game, remember that BBC Radio Newcastle have live commentary, as do Live Sports FM, which is available here.
Live updates will also appear on the club’s Twitter feed here.