South Shields extended their 100% away record as three goals in five first half minutes guided them on their way to a 4-0 win at Radcliffe on Tuesday.

The Mariners were in command from the start at the Neuven Stadium but had no lead to show for their dominance until Ntumba Massanka struck just before the half-hour mark.

That prompted further goals in the minutes which followed from Darius Osei and Conor Tee, with Osei wrapping up the scoring late in the game to move Shields two points clear at the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League.

It was a second trip to Greater Manchester in four days for Graham Fenton’s side following Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Hyde United.

Robert Briggs and Alex Kempster were introduced to the starting line-up in place of Jon Shaw and Will Jenkins and Shields established control from the outset, with Kempster at the heart of much of their brightest play in a left wing-back role.

He created the first opportunity of the game as he motored down the flank and delivered a cross which Massanka fired wide at the near post.

That was a sign of things to come as Shields pressured the Radcliffe goal. Osei was the next to eye an opener after being released down the right of the box, but he dragged his shot wide.

The Mariners looked in confident mood and that feeling was intensified in the 26th minute when Kempster drove inside from the left and slipped the ball to Massanka, whose composed finish opened the scoring.

That was the cue for the floodgates to open as Shields put their hosts to the sword.

The lead was quickly doubled after some excellent play by Will McGowan, who carried the ball through the centre and found Osei on the inside-left channel. He fainted to go inside before switching the ball onto his left foot and powering a low effort through the legs of goalkeeper Cameron Belford.

The away side sensed an opportunity to kill the game off and they effectively did that just beyond the half-hour mark when Callum Ross played in Tee and his shot from the right of the area arrowed into the bottom corner to put his team three goals to the good.

There were opportunities for a fourth in the closing stages of the first half, but the lively Kempster was denied by an interception and Adams’ strike was blocked.

Shields picked up where they left off in the first minute of the second half as Kempster rounded Belford and saw his goalbound effort cleared off the line. He chased the loose ball and was subsequently fouled by Belford, who breathed a sigh of relief when Robert Briggs sent the resulting penalty wide.

At the end of the match, Shields were left to reflect on a number of chances which went begging and could have made the scoreline even more convincing.

The closest they came was in the 56th minute as Blair Adams tricked his way past several players before finding Osei, who scuffed an effort which was cleared off the line in bizarre circumstances by Joseph Cummings, who was on the floor but kept the ball out with his head. The Mariners kept it alive and Belford saved well from Tee to keep the home side’s deficit at three.

Massanka was denied a second goal by a block while at the other end, Rod Orlando-Young fired in a rocket from the left flank which rattled Myles Boney’s crossbar.

Bobby Grant also went close for the hosts with a free-kick which found the side netting, but Shields continued to create most of the openings.

They went close again when Briggs whipped a trademark free-kick towards the top corner, only for Belford to brilliantly tip it onto the bar.

The final say was provided by Osei, who outmuscled his man on the left and cut inside before hitting a sweet strike which took a deflection on its way past Belford and into the corner.

Substitute Sam Hodgson could have added his name to the scoresheet in the closing stages, but Belford was equal to his effort.

The Mariners will look to continue their fine form when they travel to Marske United in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.

South Shields: Boney, Briggs, Adams (c) (Shaw 60), Ross, Morse, Bodenham, Osei, McGowan (Jenkins 73), Massanka (Hodgson 83), Tee, Kempster. Subs not used: Steavens, Rossiter.

Goals: Massanka (26), Osei (29, 87), Tee (31).

Attendance: 618.

Radcliffe provide the Mariners’ latest test in the Pitching In Northern Premier League when the sides go head-to-head on Tuesday.

It will be a second trip to Greater Manchester in four days for Shields after Saturday’s 2-1 win at Hyde United.

That moved the Mariners two points clear at the top of the table, with Tuesday’s opponents Radcliffe sitting 16th, having averaged a point a game so far.

They defeated Nantwich Town 3-1 on Saturday to register their second league victory of the campaign, and Shields manager Graham Fenton is mindful of the threat which will be posed to his side at the Neuven Stadium.

He said: “Radcliffe never give you an easy game.

“They’ll provide us with another tough challenge and it’s back-to-back away games for us, so the lads have had to recuperate, refuel and get themselves ready.

“We did a light session on Monday with very minimal football to avoid any further accidents and mainly focussed on organisational stuff.

“The lads are in good spirits after Saturday’s game and have prepared well.”

Shields go into Tuesday’s match without right-back Jordan Hunter, who faces a spell on the sidelines after breaking his arm in training on Friday.

The game is also expected to come too soon for Nathan Lowe, but captain Robert Briggs should be in contention to return. Joao Gomes remains a long-term absentee.

Fenton is looking for his side to replicate their second half performance from Saturday, when they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win.

He added: “We had to work extremely hard for it on Saturday.

“Hyde scored a goal that we were really disappointed with to take the lead, but the players showed great character and tried to do the right things even in the first half when they weren’t at their best.

“They tried to keep playing and unlock the door, and in the second half it was a magnificent performance and we deserved the victory.

“We’ll be looking for similar levels from the start at Radcliffe.”

Kick-off at the Neuven Stadium – which has a post code of M26 3PE – is at 7.45pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £7 for concessions and £3 for under-18s. Tickets can be bought in advance by clicking here, while cash and card payments will be accepted at the turnstiles.

South Shields succumbed to their first defeat of the season as an energetic Radcliffe side won 3-1 at 1st Cloud Arena in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.

Radcliffe opened the scoring inside the first minute and although Alex Kempster equalised before half-time with his first competitive goal for the Mariners, they could not find their best form after the break.

The visitors ultimately claimed maximum points as Kole Hall clipped them back into the lead and the experienced Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro added his second goal of the night late on.

Shields were left to rue what might have been, with the woodwork struck three times during the 90 minutes by the home side.

They started on the back foot, though, falling behind with less than 60 seconds on the clock when a loose pass in midfield was pounced on by Akpa Akpro, who sent a clinical finish beyond Myles Boney into the bottom corner.

The Mariners almost responded immediately as Robert Briggs’ whipped corner from the left was glanced by the head of Jason Gilchrist and was destined for the net before being cleared off the line. Despite the hosts’ appeals that the ball had either crossed the line or struck the hand of the defender, the referee waved play on.

There was another opportunity for an equaliser soon after as Craig Baxter picked out Kempster midway inside the Radcliffe half and he drove beyond the defence with a fine run before his prodded effort was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Cameron Belford, who had been quick to close the angle.

Shields were finding their feet and had further sights of goal as Darius Osei fired not far wide from 20 yards and Gilchrist was also off target from a similar distance.

They were almost caught out at the other end as a cross from the left was headed out as far as Luca Navarro, who skewed a volley wide from 12 yards when a goal appeared a distinct possibility.

The Mariners had appeared most likely to register the second goal of the game, though, and it arrived via a set-piece on 32 minutes.

Briggs curled in another superb corner from the left and this time Kempster met it at the near post to nod home and bring his side on level terms.

They didn’t have things all their own way in the remainder of the first half with Radcliffe continuing to pose a threat at the other end, but the closest either team came to taking the lead before half-time was a 25-yard strike by Gilchrist which Belford pushed wide.

Shields introduced Josh Gillies for Verstraaten at the break and they almost went ahead within four minutes of the restart as Gilchrist’s teasing low cross from the right begged a tough from Osei, but the forward just could not get enough purchase on the ball and the chance evaporated.

Radcliffe were the next to go for goal with an effort from 25 yards by Matty Crothers which Boney gathered at the second attempt, while at the other end Kempster had another shot saved by Belford.

Arguably the most crucial moment of the game arrived just before the hour mark when the ball was hooked forward to Hall just outside the box on the right and with Boney advancing, the Radcliffe forward expertly dinked it over him and into the net to give his side the advantage for a second time.

Former Grimsby Town, Rochdale and Tranmere Rovers forward Akpa Akpro was a thorn in Shields’ side throughout the game and he fired the hosts another warning when he fizzed an effort across goal which went not far wide of Boney’s right-hand post.

Kempster and Gilchrist meanwhile were consistently the Mariners’ most likely sources of goals and they combined to great effect in the 63rd minute as Kempster’s fine run and cross was met by a glancing shot by Gilchrist which struck the crossbar. Shields kept the ball alive and a second effort from Gilchrist trickled narrowly past the post.

Gillies curled a free-kick not far wide soon after before Gilchrist again fired a brilliant ball across the face of goal which just evaded the stretching Kempster in the middle.

It felt like an equaliser was coming and it almost arrived in stunning fashion when the ball broke to Gilchrist 20 yards out on the right and his venomous strike crashed against the crossbar as he was denied by the woodwork for a second time.

That momentum was eventually lost and Radcliffe had an opportunity to effectively seal the points, but Andrew Owens’ shot from the left of the area curled just wide.

Another huge chance for a Shields leveller came with 10 minutes left when Callum Ross played Gilchrist in on goal down the left, but he was unable to get a shot away and the ball squirmed loose. The Mariners kept it alive and continued probing but an eventual effort from Ross was blocked before Gilchrist headed over.

It would prove to be a vital moment as, just over a minute later, Radcliffe went out of sight with a prodded effort from Akpa Akpro which nestled in the bottom corner.

There was still time for Gilchrist to be frustrated by the woodwork for a third time as he pounced on a fumble by Belford and got a shot away from a tight angle which came back off the post.

There was by then no way back for Shields as their first defeat of the season was registered.

They will hope to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Bamber Bridge.

South Shields: Boney, Baxter, Smith-Brown (McCamley 75), Shaw (c), Morse, Ross, Verstraaten (Gillies 46), Briggs, Gilchrist, Osei, Kempster. Subs not used: Coombe, Agnew, Hodgson.

Goal: Kempster (32).

Attendance: 300.

Image: Kev Wilson.