South Shields returned to winning ways as they hit Grantham Town for four at a baking hot 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.
First half goals from Conor Tee and Dillon Morse set the Mariners on their way as they earned a fourth victory in five games in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
Grantham made life difficult in the second half after pulling a goal back from a set-piece, but they were unable to draw back on level terms before Shields turned on the style in the closing stages.
An excellent strike from Ntumba Massanka was followed by a header by substitute Sam Hodgson as the hosts secured a 4-1 victory in front of a delighted crowd of more than 1,700.
The Mariners had dropped their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw with FC United of Manchester four days earlier, but this was a reassuring result for Graham Fenton’s side.
Fenton opted to make two changes to his starting line-up, with Will Jenkins and Darius Osei introduced in place of Nathan Lowe and Alex Kempster.
Shields could not have asked for a better start as they opened the scoring in the third minute.
Some slick play down the right resulted in Darius Osei slipping a ball through to Tee, who followed up his opening goal for the club in midweek by sweeping an effort into the opposite corner with a stylish finish.
Numerous half-chances were created by the hosts, but Jim Pollard was in impressive form in the Grantham goal.
A superb Shields move almost resulted in a second goal on the quarter-hour mark, with Jenkins and Massanka both producing fine pieces of skill to set up an opportunity for Tee, but his low shot from just inside the area was pushed wide by Pollard.
Tee saw another strike saved by Pollard soon after, but the Mariners did not have to wait too much longer for their second goal.
It arrived on 22 minutes as they again carved their visitors open, this time down the left. Callum Ross and Osei combined before the latter’s low pass across goal was powered in by Morse from close range.
Massanka was the next to go for goal as a rampant Shields attacked at will, but Pollard held onto his effort.
Pollard was beaten less than a minute later though by an Osei attempt from the right of the area which kissed the post. The ball bounced out to Blair Adams who looked certain to convert his fourth goal of the season, only for Pollard to pick himself up and brilliantly claw his goalbound strike over the bar.
The Grantham goalkeeper remained busy and was forced into another stop by Osei on the stroke of half-time, with the away side going in at the break knowing they had plenty to do to turn the tide in the second half.
They did pose a significantly greater threat after the break, though, and they pulled a goal back when Adam Chapman’s free-kick from the left struck James Williamson before looping over Myles Boney and into the net.
Opportunities were much harder to come by for the Mariners in the second half, and the closest they came in the early stages of it was a sweet strike from distance by Jenkins which cleared the crossbar.
There was a sense that frustration was beginning to set in but any feelings of doubt for Shields were brushed aside in stunning fashion by Massanka 16 minutes from the end.
A cross from the left was half-cleared and dropped to Massanka just inside the area before the striker took aim with a thumping half-volley which arrowed into the top corner, leaving Pollard with no chance.
Substitute Hodgson effectively made the points safe four minutes later with his first competitive goal for the club as he guided Robert Briggs’ cross from the right into the bottom corner with a terrific header.
There was no way back from there for the Gingerbreads, with Shields seeing out the remainder of the second half in comfortable fashion.
The Mariners are back in action on Monday when they travel to Scarborough Athletic for another league fixture.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Kempster 77), Ross, Morse, Bodenham, Jenkins (Lowe 61), Briggs (c), Massanka, Tee, Osei (Hodgson 66). Subs not used: McGowan, Rossiter.
Goals: Tee (3), Morse (22), Massanka (74), Hodgson (78).
Image: Craig McNair.
Sam Hodgson slammed home the winner as South Shields completed a quickfire turnaround to end pre-season on a high with a pulsating win over Gateshead at 1st Cloud Arena.
Hodgson converted a Darius Osei cross three minutes after captain Robert Briggs had equalised for the Mariners as they got the better of their National League North opponents with a 2-1 victory.
Former Newcastle United youngster Adam Campbell had fired Gateshead into a first half lead but Shields displayed impressive poise to claim the win with their two goals just after the midway point of the second half.
The hosts – lining up in a 5-3-2 formation – started brightly and created an early opportunity as Conor Tee manouevred his way into a crossing position on the left and delivered the ball onto the head of Alex Kempster, whose effort was saved by Jacob Chapman.
They fell behind in the 10th minute, though, as Gateshead pressed high to win possession and Cedwyn Scott squared to Adam Campbell, who rifled home from 12 yards.
Graham Fenton will have been delighted with the way his side responded to the opening goal.
Nathan Lowe proved a thorn in Gateshead’s side and his effort from distance was parried by Chapman to begin a period of pressure from the hosts as they probed for an equaliser.
Lowe’s free-kick less than a minute later dropped to the feet of Alex Kempster, who had a shot deflected wide, while Dillon Morse’s header from the resulting corner was blocked.
Jon Shaw thought he had levelled moments later as he headed home against his former club, but the offside flag denied the player-joint assistant manager.
Shields were left scratching their heads as to how they failed to level the scores on 16 minutes when Chapman brilliantly kept out Shaw’s header from a Lowe corner and the rebound was powered towards goal by the head of Morse but cleared off the line by Macaulay Langstaff.
The Heed weathered the storm and went in search of a sucker punch at the other end, which they twice went close to delivering.
First Greg Olley picked out Ryan Wombwell with a teasing free-kick from the left, but the defender could only hook the ball over from an inviting position at the back post.
The away side then went closer as Olley slid in Langstaff and his low strike was destined to find the bottom of the net before Shaw raced back to block superbly.
A strong appeal for a Shields penalty was waved away 12 minutes before half-time when Massanka and Jordan Hunter combined down the right and the latter’s cross was arrowing towards the head of substitute Robert Briggs, who appeared to be bundled over. The referee waved play on and Blair Adams sent the loose ball over the bar.
Massanka, Hunter and Shaw were all denied by blocks as the first half ticked into stoppage time but the Mariners were sent into the interval with a harsh one-goal deficit.
Shields created a decent chance for an equaliser in the 56th minute when Adams fired a dangerous ball across the area from the left. It arrived quickly at Massanka, though, and he was unable to turn it home.
Myles Boney kept the deficit at one with an excellent save as the game ticked onto the hour mark. Scott was released down the left of the box for the visitors and his powerful low effort appeared certain to double his side’s lead, but Boney spread himself well to superbly deny him with his outstretched left foot.
Langstaff slid a low shot past the post in Gateshead’s next attack after linking up with Bailey, but the introduction of Lowe and Sam Hodgson proved pivotal for the Mariners midway through the second half.
First Hodgson forced a corner with some tireless running and then Lowe took full advantage of it, drilling a superb free-kick into the near post area which Briggs met with a powerful header that Chapman was unable to keep out.
Shields completed a three-minute turnaround as the four-figure crowd played their part by notching up the noise.
Darius Osei motored in down the left of the area and fired an excellent ball across the box which Hodgson sent flying into the roof of the net.
The Mariners were playing with supreme confidence and had opportunities to seal a fine win, with Chapman saving well from Osei at the near post from a Lowe free-kick before denying the same player moments later after some terrific pressing presented him with a one-on-one chance.
The failure to force a third goal did not cost Shields, though, as they saw out the remaining minutes to defeat Mike Williamson’s side.
They now have a week to prepare for their opening Pitching In Northern Premier League match against Mickleover at 1st
South Shields: Boney, Hunter (Jenkins 77) Adams (c) (Kempster 77), Shaw (Morse 67), Morse (Trialist 46), Trialist (Bodenham 25), Kempster (Osei 32), Ross (Lowe 67), Massanka (Hodgson 67), Lowe (Tee 46), Tee (Briggs 25). Subs not used: Steavens, Agnew, McGowan, Rossiter.
Goals: Briggs (71), Hodgson (74).
Attendance: 1,148 (139 Gateshead).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields continued their 100% pre-season as they toppled West Allotment Celtic 3-0 on Wednesday.
Goals from Sam Hodgson, a trialist and Will McGowan saw Shields run out comfortable victors.
The Mariners almost found the opener early in the game as captain Robert Briggs played a wonderful ball through to a trialist, but his effort was hacked off the line.
West Allotment then had a chance to break the deadlock, but Shields’ other trialist, a goalkeeper, made an excellent save to deny Larmouth from distance.
Sam Hodgson opened the scoring for the visitors. An excellent pass by McGowan found the striker, who chipped the West Allotment goalkeeper.
Shortly after, a trialist doubled Shields’ lead. Jon Shaw played a great pass from deep and the trialist kept his composure to fire home.
The Mariners put the game to bed with the pick of the goals. McGowan twisted and turned on the edge of the box before firing a powerful effort past Hodgson and into the top corner.
Shields continued to dominate the game with some confident passing moves, and nullifying the West Allotment attack.
Alfie Marriott had a great chance to make it four to Shields, but his effort from close range unfortunately sailed over the bar.
South Shields: Trialist, Hunter, Hopper, Shaw, Agnew, Briggs (c), Lukeman, McGowan, Hodgson, Trialist, McGeorge. Subs: Boney, Neary, Aldus, Marriott, Watson, Fletcher, Cresdee, Walker, Waldon.
Goals: Hodgson (17), Trialist (29), McGowan (33).