South Shields moved to within five points of leaders North Shields in Northern League Division One with a convincing 4-1 win at West Allotment Celtic on Wednesday.
The Mariners dominated long stretches at Whitley Park, and took the lead early on thanks to a superb strike from Jon Shaw.
However, they were pegged back before the break, and needed an own goal and a brace from David Foley to make sure of the points in the second half.
West Allotment kept them honest with a committed display as they showed the battling qualities they will need in their fight against relegation.
Goalkeeper Chris Bannon was in particularly impressive form for the home side as he kept Shields at bay on several occasions.
After watching a Robert Briggs header from a Wayne Phillips free-kick go wide in the first minute, Bannon did well to deny Shaw from close range.
He could do nothing to keep the former Gateshead striker off the scoresheet on 19 minutes, though.
Shaw collected the ball 25 yards from goal and picked out the top corner with a sumptuous strike for his third goal in two games.
Within a minute of that, Craig Hindmarch had a decent opportunity to draw Celtic level, but he could only fire over from the edge of the box.
Despite dominating the ball, Shields were unable to extend their lead.
Bannon did well to make a double save from Anthony Callaghan, while he also made a flying stop from Phillips after he cut inside from the right.
He was rewarded for his efforts two minutes before the break when a ball over the top caused problems for the Mariners, and Liam Hudson nipped in to level for the hosts.
Shields had been on the right track, and despite the blow of conceding an equaliser, continued in the same vein after half-time.
Adam Wrightson, who had a superb game on the right flank, delivered a terrific ball to the back post, but Shaw could only head over from a good position.
The Mariners were soon back in front, though, and the breakthrough arrived when Callaghan burst down the left before sending in a teasing delivery which John Pendlebury headed past his own goalkeeper.
Danny Carson almost extended the lead when his shot from distance was deflected not far wide, but Shields had to be patient for goal number three.
Substitute Julio Arca came so close to providing it when he whipped an effort from 25 yards which was destined for the top corner before being brilliantly tipped over by Bannon.
West Allotment’s Dale Pearson was sent off after an off-the-ball incident with 16 minutes left, and Shields made the one-man advantage count.
Arca and Carl Finnigan combined well to release Foley through on goal, and he shrugged off his marker before finding the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
Darren Holden was unable to claim a debut goal as he headed over from a Wrightson cross, but Shields did make it four with four minutes remaining when a fantastic through ball from Carson was collected by Foley, who rounded Bannon and made no mistake.
Liam Connell made a good save from Hudson late on as the Mariners made it 13 wins from their last 14 games.
They still have a game in hand on leaders North Shields, whose advantage is now five points.
The Mariners take a break from league action on Saturday, with Staveley Miners Welfare visiting Mariners Park for an FA Vase third round tie.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Smith (Finnigan 81), Callaghan, Carson, Morse, Baxter, Wrightson, Briggs (Arca 60), Shaw (c), Foley, Phillips (Holden 70). Subs not used: Barlow, Ramsey.
Goals: Shaw (19), Own goal (52), Foley (82, 86).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields were in outstanding form as they produced a scintillating performance to thrash West Allotment Celtic 5-1 on Tuesday.
The Mariners produced some of their best football of the season as they moved to within two points of Northern League Division One leaders North Shields.
Julio Arca was particularly impressive, with the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder scoring a superb brace.
David Carson, Carl Finnigan and David Foley were also on the scoresheet in front of a Mariners Park crowd of 903.
Joss Carmichael, Craig Baxter, Arca, David Palmer and Wayne Phillips were all brought back into Shields’ starting line-up after being either on the bench or out of the squad completely for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland RCA.
From early on, they appeared in better shape than they had been against RCA, with some stunning passing football played.
A good chance went begging within the first five minutes as Finnigan headed the ball across the box, and Gavin Cogdon nodded not far over.
Cogdon had another decent opportunity two minutes later, but he shot wide from the inside left of the box.
Arca had returned from a leg injury in the second half of Saturday’s game, and netted a stunning equaliser.
He picked up where he left off last night, curling in a terrific free-kick from just outside the box on the right in the 12th minute, leaving visiting goalkeeper Chris Bannon with no chance.
The Argentinean scored an even better goal on 28 minutes.
After he retrieved a deep cross from the left, he brought the ball under control before beating Bannon again with a delightful chip from an acute angle.
The Mariners kept up the pressure, and Cogdon’s effort was deflected wide from the edge of the box.
Wayne Phillips and Robert Briggs were both denied by good saves from Bannon before the end of the first half.
Leepaul Scroggins and David Carson were introduced at half-time, and Shields picked up where they left off.
Within six minutes of coming on, Carson got on the scoresheet as he brought the ball inside from the left flank before driving a tremendous effort in off the post.
Arca went close to scoring a stunning hat-trick a few minutes later, beating Bannon with another terrific free-kick, only to see it come back off the bar.
Shields were in mean mood, and scored arguably the goal of the game just after the hour mark when a flowing move was lit up with a delightful flick by Robert Briggs before Palmer played in Finnigan, who finished it off with a deft chip.
West Allotment scored a consolation with 15 minutes remaining, and it was some effort, with Shaun Reay capitalising on a loose pass before firing into the top corner from distance.
The Mariners had the last word, though, and it came when a through ball played in Foley, who had been out for more than a month with a hamstring injury.
He powered past his marker and into the box before firing into the bottom corner to give Shields a four-goal margin of victory they richly deserved.
They host Ashington at Mariners Park on Saturday as they aim to further strengthen their promotion credentials.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Baxter, Danny Carson (Scroggins 46), Arca (Foley 66), Morse, Shaw (c), Palmer, Briggs, Cogdon (David Carson 46), Finnigan, Phillips. Subs not used: Connell, Smith.
Goals: Arca (12, 28), David Carson (51), Finnigan (62), Foley (87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields defeated West Allotment Celtic 3-1 in a friendly on Saturday at Harton Technology College.
The match was played on the 3G surface following the postponement of the Mariners’ FA Vase tie with Morpeth Town earlier in the day.
The win for Shields was sealed by goals from Robert Briggs, Leepaul Scroggins and Adam Sakr.
Below is a set of images from the game, captured by Peter Talbot. The pictures can be viewed in full here: In Pictures – South Shields 3-1 West Allotment Celtic (friendly)
Created with flickr slideshow.