South Shields hit North Ferriby United for six as they got the new year off to a perfect start at Mariners Park.
The Mariners made it 11 consecutive home victories in the league this season with a convincing 6-2 win over the Evo-Stik Premier Division’s bottom club.
They also hit the woodwork four times on an afternoon of domination which saw Gary Brown, Carl Finnigan, Robert Briggs and Nathan Lowe get on the scoresheet along with Lee Mason, who continued his fine run of form with another two goals.
Leaders Nantwich Town were beaten 1-0 by Witton Albion as Shields cut the gap at the top to five points, while they have three games in hand.
The Mariners set their stall out from the first minute, with a Briggs effort from distance well saved by Ferriby goalkeeper Lewis Exall.
David Foley was the next to rifle an effort from long range when he drifted in from the right flank before unleashing a powerful left foot piledriver which smashed against the crossbar.
The hosts did not have to wait too much longer for their breakthrough, though, and took the lead in the sixth minute.
Josh Gillies whipped in a superb free-kick from the left and Brown got on the end of it to head the ball into the far corner.
Shields dominated possession and territory and had a number of sights of goal before a big chance fell the way of Mason after a ball across the area by Brown, but his effort was off target.
Mason headed another opportunity narrowly over and Shields then hit the woodwork for the second time when Brown cannoned the ball against the post as he went agonisingly close to scoring his second.
The Mariners deservedly made it two 10 minutes before half-time as Mason saw a shot saved by Exall but Gillies kept the ball alive and returned it to his team-mate, who finished cutely from close range.
Shields struck the woodwork for the third time in the 39th minute as Mason prodded the ball through to Foley and he beat Exall with a dink which hit the bar.
The third goal arrived less than two minutes into the second half, with Gillies the provider again.
His low cross from the right was too good for the Ferriby defence and Mason got on the end of it to notch his eighth goal in four games.
The woodwork was rattled for a fourth time soon after when Blair Adams almost scored the pick of the bunch with a stunning strike from the edge of the box which struck the bar.
Brown and Briggs both went close to scoring goal number four, which finally arrived on the hour mark.
Foley went on a rampaging run down the left before squaring for Finnigan, who made the most of his tap-in as he found the net with his first touch after being brought on as a substitute.
Briggs was the next to get in on the act as he picked out the corner of the net with an inch-perfect free-kick from just outside the box. It was his 50th goal for Shields.
The home side’s levels then slipped as Ferriby scored twice, with Josh Vickers nodding in from a right-wing cross and then notching again with a low effort from the edge of the area.
Shields regained their composure, though, and completed the scoring in the 90th minute as Lowe scored his second goal in as many games by finding the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The Mariners are away to Witton Albion on Saturday as they look to continue their excellent form and boost their promotion push.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Brown, Adams, Shaw (c) (Lough 67), Morse, Turnbull, Foley, Briggs (Harmison 76), Mason (Finnigan 58), Gillies, Lowe. Subs not used: Baxter, Mouanda.
Goals: Brown (6), Mason (35, 47), Finnigan (60), Briggs (66), Lowe (90).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields and North Ferriby United will meet for the third time this season on New Year’s Day at Mariners Park.
Ferriby beat Shields 3-0 in the reverse league encounter in August before the Mariners got their revenge with a 4-0 FA Trophy win in October.
The victory over Shields is one of just two wins registered by Ferriby in the league so far this campaign.
They head into Tuesday’s fixture sitting bottom of the table, but the Mariners know that nothing can be taken for granted as they aim for an 11th consecutive win on home soil in the league.
Shields are expected to have a strong squad to choose from, with Gavin Cogdon and Ben Harmison among those set to be available again.
Ursene Mouanda is battling to return from illness, although Anthony Callaghan and Barrie Smith continue to miss out with their long-term injuries.
The Mariners are fourth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division heading into the 3pm kick-off, eight points behind leaders Nantwich Town with three games in hand.
Since being beaten 4-1 by Hyde United in mid-October, they have won seven and drawn two of their nine league games.
Another positive result would leave them in a good position to kick on in 2019.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
The turnstiles will open at 12pm and the usual Happy Hours will apply between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, and between 5pm and 6pm.
A DJ will perform in the marquee immediately after the match so stay behind and enjoy the atmosphere with us!
Supporters planning to attend the games against Workington and North Ferriby United at Mariners Park over the festive period are able to take advantage of a special offer.
Today we are introducing our Festive Bundle, which offers all those who buy tickets for the match against Workington on December 29 an opportunity to purchase a half-price ticket for the game with North Ferriby on New Year’s Day.
A two-match package for the league fixtures costs £15 for adults, £12 for students and over-65s and £4.50 for under-16s, representing a saving of £5, £4 and £1.50 respectively.
We see the savings as another way of thanking our supporters for the tremendous backing they have given us throughout the season, and to give as many people as possible a chance to attend both vital games.
To take advantage of the offer, please buy the two-game package online.
To do so, please click here and select the two-game package.
Thank you for your continued outstanding support and we hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.