South Shields secured their place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup on Tuesday after seeing off Penrith 4-1 at Mariners Park.
The Mariners looked comfortable throughout against their Cumbrian opponents as they kept their challenge on four fronts alive.
Romanian defender Iulian Petrache scored the pick of the bunch with a stunning strike from distance, just hours after signing for the club.
There were also goals for Michael Richardson and Dillon Morse, before the victory was wrapped up with an own goal.
Shields were immediately on the front foot in front of a crowd of 606 at Mariners Park.
Stephen Ramsey almost turned an Alex Nicholson cross home, and Gavin Cogdon drilled an effort not far wide as the hosts attacked with purpose.
Their deserved breakthrough arrived in the sixth minute after good play by Ramsey, who threaded the ball through for Cogdon.
He touched it beyond the goalkeeper, and Richardson showed great determination to get to the loose ball before the despairing defenders to force it into the net.
Shields enjoyed almost complete domination in the rest of the first half, without being able to convert their possession into further goals.
Wayne Phillips had a shot from distance deflected narrowly wide, as did Ramsey, while Richardson went close after showing great skill to beat a defender.
At the other end, Liam Connell was rarely tested in the Shields goal.
The Mariners continued to consistently threaten the visiting backline, but they held firm until the break, with Cogdon going closest when his effort was deflected just past the post.
After half-time, Shields picked up where they left off, with Richardson shooting not far wide.
The second goal finally arrived in the 56th minute when Petrache brought the ball forward in the centre before firing in a superb strike off the post from 30 yards.
It was soon 3-0 when Petrache’s defensive partner Morse got on the scoresheet, forcing a cross from Phillips beyond the line.
Ramsey and substitute David Foley went close to grabbing the fourth, while Shields introduced teenagers Ewan Simpson and Ryan Bolam from the bench in the last 20 minutes.
Good pressure by Bolam forced an own goal from Penrith’s William Paul, who turned a low Nicholson cross into his own net.
Paul redeemed himself just minutes later, scoring Penrith’s consolation with a low shot past Connell.
However, there was no route back into the game for the Cumbrians.
Shields have now won 12 games in a row in all competitions, and travel to Jarrow Roofing in the league on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Nicholson, Petrache, Morse, Arca (c), Smith, Phillips (Simpson 65), Cogdon (Foley 61), Richardson, Ramsey (Bolam 71). Subs not used: Shaw, Briggs.
Goals: Richardson (6), Petrache (56), Morse (58), Paul own goal (73).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields ended 2016 on a high as another two goals from David Foley helped them to a 4-1 win over Penrith at Mariners Park.
Foley’s brace was added to by second half goals from Carl Finnigan and Julio Arca as the Mariners made it 17 victories from their last 18 games in all competitions.
It is also nine consecutive wins for Shields, who move into the New Year still five points behind Northern League Division One leaders North Shields, who battled to a 2-1 triumph at Newcastle Benfield on Boxing Day.
That result had put the pressure on the Mariners, but they were always in control against their Cumbrian opponents.
A strong wind affected the game, and almost handed Shields the opening goal when a Robert Briggs free-kick was blown onto the crossbar.
Foley was denied by goalkeeper Stuart Dixon after he did well to narrow the angle, before he beat him soon after with a superb strike from 20 yards, which went in off the post.
Shields rarely conceded possession as they looked to make the most of having the wind at their backs, but in the end the conditions did not prove to be to their benefit.
It made breaking through the Penrith back-line more difficult, but they almost made it 2-0 when Arca showed great composure to pick out Michael Richardson just inside the box, and his shot through a sea of bodies was excellently kept out by the feet of Dixon.
Penrith’s forays forward were rare, but Jon Shaw did well to block an effort from Andrew Murray-Jones after he turned in the area.
At the other end, Dixon saved an effort from distance by Foley, and the hosts were unable to add to their lead before half-time in front of a Mariners Park crowd of 1,222.
It took them less than a minute in the second half to make it 2-0 as Richardson drove through the centre and found Wayne Phillips on the inside-left of the box, who hit a ball across goal which Finnigan diverted in.
The Mariners nearly extended their advantage further almost immediately as some good probing play led to an eventual shot from Briggs which went over.
Foley sealed the points soon after as he stole the ball in the centre of the park, ran through on goal and beat Dixon to score his sixth goal in two games.
Penrith pulled a goal back as Grant Davidson headed in, but less than a minute later, Shields had a penalty after a handball.
Arca sent Dixon the wrong way from the spot and with that, there was no way back for the visitors.
Gavin Cogdon played the final half-hour on his comeback from a groin injury, but the Mariners were just unable to extend their lead.
Foley had several attempts for a third hat-trick of the season, the most spectacular of which came when he beat his man with some brilliant skill on the inside-right of the box before shooting just wide with the outside of his right foot.
Foley also hit one just wide from the edge of the box, while at the other end, Liam Connell was called into action as he made an impressive stop from substitute Shaun Gardner.
Alex Nicholson and Foley linked up well on the right in the second half, and one good piece of play between the pair led to another effort which went not far wide from Foley.
A well-worked free-kick routine shortly afterwards saw Briggs pull the ball across for Arca on the edge of the box, and his shot was destined for the bottom corner before Dixon palmed it behind.
Dixon did well to keep out further efforts from Foley and Nicholson in the closing stages as Shields aimed for goal number five, which just would not arrive.
The Mariners are now not in action until Monday, January 2, when they host Jarrow Roofing in a 1pm kick-off in the Durham Challenge Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Callaghan, Shaw, Baxter, Arca (c), Briggs, Phillips (Holden 77), Finnigan (Cogdon 60), Richardson (Stephenson 55), Foley. Subs not used: Morse, Ramsey.
Goals: Foley (12, 49), Finnigan (46), Arca (pen 58).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields are to host Penrith in the third round of the Northern League Cup.
The tie is expected to be played on Tuesday, January 17 at Mariners Park.
It will see the two sides go head-to-head for the second time within a month, with Penrith also making the journey to South Tyneside for a Northern League Division One fixture on Boxing Day.
It will mean two quickfire returns to Mariners Park for striker Martyn Coleman, who rejoined Penrith from Shields in the summer.
The full third round draw is as follows:
North Shields vs Chester-le-Street Town
Shildon vs Whitley Bay
Marske United vs Bishop Auckland
Consett vs Stockton Town
South Shields vs Penrith
Whickham vs Sunderland RCA
Dunston UTS or Hebburn Town vs Washington
Ashington vs Newcastle Benfield
All ties are due to be played on the week commencing January 16, 2017.