South Shields secured their first win of the season on Tuesday as they deservedly beat Seaham Red Star 2-1.
The Mariners had been winless in their opening four competitive games of the campaign.
However, they looked in good form against Red Star, despite a nervy ending in front of a Mariners Park crowd of 916.
Before the game, Shields announced Michael Turner had left the club because of work commitments, and Julio Arca slotted into his place at left-back.
He was heavily involved early in proceedings, with his dangerous delivery from the left headed behind under pressure.
Shields took a nerve-settling lead in the 10th minute as David Palmer released Barrie Smith down the right, and his cross was headed in by Gavin Cogdon for his fourth goal in as many games.
Cogdon was a constant threat against Red Star, although worryingly for Shields fans, he limped off in stoppage time with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
After Cogdon’s goal, the Mariners looked in the mood to kill the game off early, but they couldn’t add a second despite creating several openings.
Jon Shaw went the closest when his shot was cleared off the line, and Palmer also had an effort saved.
To their credit, Seaham did not let their heads drop, but at times they were unable to get out of their own half as Shields played some superb football.
Palmer curled a shot just wide and Arca hit a free-kick just over, and the Mariners went into half-time wondering how they had not extended their advantage.
After failing to create a clear-cut chance in the first half, Seaham almost equalised less than a minute into the second when Thomas Price got in behind and flicked an effort not far wide.
Shields were struggling to get their football flowing as well as it had been in the first half, but they burst back into action when they added their second goal on 64 minutes.
Palmer received the ball in the box with his back to ball, turned and then fired into the bottom corner as he netted against his former club.
David Foley went close to sealing the win soon after when he drove at the visiting defence, but his low shot was well held by Shaun Newbrook.
With 15 minutes left, any hopes of a Seaham comeback appeared as good as over when defender Dan Kirkup was given a straight red card for a reckless foul on Cogdon.
However, the visitors regrouped, and possessed more of a threat with 10 men as Shields retreated.
They gave themselves a lifeline in the 77th minute when they capitalised on a mistake at the back, and Paul Gardiner rolled the ball home.
Seaham then put their hosts under some real pressure, but Shields held out for the three points, much to the delight of the large home support.
They will look to build on their victory over the weekend, with trips to Chester-le-Street Town on Saturday and Penrith on Monday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Arca, Storey, Danny Carson, David Carson, Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Briggs 71), Shaw, Cogdon (Morse 90+2), Foley (Phillips 68). Subs not used: Elliott, Byrne.
Goals: Cogdon (10), Palmer (64).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields make their long-awaited return to Mariners Park on Tuesday when Seaham Red Star visit for a 7.30pm kick-off.
Many changes have been made at the ground over the summer, including the installation of a new drainage system and three new covered stands for supporters.
It is hoped that a big crowd will be in attendance for the homecoming, which is also an important match for the Mariners as they aim to get their first win of the season on the board.
Shields succeeded Seaham as Northern League Division Two champions last time out.
Seaham followed up their promotion with a ninth-placed finish in Division One last season, and will be a real danger in Tuesday’s game.
Their 3-0 opening day win at Washington underlined their ability, and they will no doubt be relishing the prospect of spoiling the party.
Shields assistant manager Lee Picton, though, is hoping they will respond well after Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Whitley Bay, which saw the Mariners concede a stoppage-time equaliser.
He said: “Hopefully with a good crowd behind us on Tuesday for our first home game, we can look to kick-start the season, because it needs to happen really quickly.
“For the fans, more than anybody else, it’s important we get three points on Tuesday, and for the people who have put a lot into this football club.
“They all deserve a proper performance from this group, including ourselves as a management team. They deserve better than what they’ve had so far.
“If players or anybody else in the camp is struggling to get their heads around that, as I said to the lads in the changing room, we’re going to be on a collision course. We’ve got to stand up and be counted.”
Kick-off is at 7.30pm, with season tickets valid for this game. Admission to the match can also be secured at the turnstiles, at a cost of £6 for adults, £4 for over-65s and £2 for under-16s.
Below is a copy of the front cover of the programme for the game.
Warren Byrne and David Palmer were among the goals as South Shields Reserves made it two Wearside League victories in a row with a 4-0 win over Seaham Red Star Reserves on Monday.
Both players got a full 90 minutes under their belts at Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground, with Byrne scoring twice and Palmer once, while Olly Martin was also on the scoresheet.
It is now two wins from their opening three league fixtures for Shields, following on from last week’s impressive 2-1 triumph at Cleator Moor Celtic.
They were superb at times against Seaham, and early chances fell the way of Byrne and Dominic Soulsby, who were both denied.
Joss Carmichael, another first-team player getting game-time for the reserves, made a good save after that from Michael Bulmer to keep Shields level, with the Seaham forward hitting the rebound into the side netting.
Shields always looked the likelier to open the scoring, and visiting goalkeeper Shay Adamson had to make an excellent low save from Byrne to prevent them doing that.
On 23 minutes, though, the Mariners went ahead as Ewan Simpson’s fine cross from the left was finished off by Byrne at the back post.
Palmer’s goal 10 minutes later was similar, with Byrne playing the ball to Matthew Davidson on the inside-left of the box before he crossed into the centre, where Palmer had a tap-in.
Byrne and Palmer both hit efforts wide in the closing stages of the first half, and in the second half, Shields continued their dominance.
They were rewarded with a third goal when the ball broke to Martin in the area, and he made no mistake as he slotted it past Adamson.
Both sides had good opportunities in the closing stages, with Byrne denied twice for the Mariners, as was substitute Jonny Hope, while at the other end, Wesley Smith dinked a shot just over.
Byrne completed the scoring with his second of the night three minutes before the end when he latched onto a header forward by Ryan Bolam before rolling the ball into the bottom corner.
The reserves are in action again on Wednesday against Harton and Westoe, with kick-off at the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground at 6.30pm. Admission is £2.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Whelan, Sinclair (Marsden 82), Crutwell (c), Simpson, Tonge, Palmer, Davidson, Byrne, Martin (Hope 82), Soulsby (Bolam 69). Subs not used: Richardson, Cossar.
Goals: Byrne (23, 87), Palmer (33), Martin (57).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.