South Shields registered their first victory of pre-season on an entertaining night against West Auckland Town at 1st Cloud Arena.
Goals from Nathan Lowe, a trialist and Will McCamley were enough for the Mariners against a strong West Auckland side featuring former Shields players Tom Flynn and Chris Hunter.
It was a positive night’s work for Shields as they showed improved fluency and peppered the West goal with efforts.
They took the lead in the seventh minute as Wouter Verstraaten claimed the ball on halfway and played it into the feet of Lowe, who took two touches before belting a shot which glanced the underside of the bar before finding the target.
The Mariners had an opportunity to double their advantage soon after when Alex Kempster surged down the right and cut inside before firing a left-foot effort past the post.
Shields were in control but their Northern League visitors pegged them back in the 19th minute thanks to some sharp play on the left as Craig Baxter was robbed of possession by Anthony Bell before he squared it to Mason Hurworth, who converted into an empty net.
The home side quickly regained the initiative and went close to going back in front when Jason Gilchrist’s shot from 20 yards was palmed behind by Flynn.
The Mariners had to wait until seven minutes before half-time to regain the lead, with Kempster running in behind down the left before his cross found the head of a trialist, who found the corner of the net.
There were numerous opportunities for a third goal in the remainder of the first half but Gilchrist was denied by the offside flag before Arron Thompson forced Flynn into a low save after some neat work in the middle.
Gary Brown almost made his mark in spectacular fashion 10 minutes into the first half following some superb one-touch play involving Robert Briggs and Kempster, but his eventual left-foot effort was parried. Shields kept the ball alive and a further shot by their trialist forced another save.
Callum Ross sent a long range shot not far wide from distance while the Mariners passed up a glorious opportunity for goal number three when Verstraaten progressed through the centre and opted to pass it onto Will Jenkins, who was unable to get an effort away. The ball eventually squirmed out to McCamley, whose shot trickled against the post as Shields were denied.
They did not have to wait too much longer for their third goal, though, and it arrived when Ross and Mathew Wade combined on the right and the latter sent in a cross which was retrieved by Sam Hodgson and laid off to McCamley, who fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Jenkins and Hodgson both had opportunities in the closing stages to add their names to the scoresheet but there were to be no further goals as Shields registered a 3-1 win.
South Shields: Boney (Coombe 74), Baxter (Wade 61), Adams (Croft 61), Ross (Thompson 30), Morse (Verstraaten 61), Verstraaten (Brown 30), Kempster (McCamley 61), Briggs (c) (Ross 61), Gilchrist (Hodgson 61), Lowe (Jenkins 61), McCamley (Trialist 30). Subs not used: Lockey.
Goals: Lowe (7), Trialist (38), McCamley (73).
Friday’s pre-season friendly between South Shields and West Auckland Town will be streamed live.
A pre-match show will get underway from 7pm, followed by kick-off at 7.30pm, and you will be able to watch the whole broadcast by clicking here.
Commentary will be provided by Chris May and South Shields right-back Jordan Hunter, who is unavailable for the game after picking up a knock in Tuesday’s pre-season opener against Hebburn Town.
The pre-match coverage will include an extended interview with Mariners joint manager Lee Picton.
The stream will be provided free of charge to all supporters, although there are plans to charge for future games which are streamed live, with more details to follow when plans are confirmed.
Friday’s match will be played behind closed doors and it is hoped it will be the last game played at 1st Cloud Arena without spectators after the FA released its guidance for the phased return of non-league supporters on Thursday.
South Shields squad to face West Auckland (from): Myles Boney, Ross Coombe, Blair Adams, Craig Baxter, Gary Brown, Josh Croft, Joe Lockey, Dillon Morse, Wouter Verstraaten, Matty Wade, Robert Briggs, Will Jenkins, Nathan Lowe, Will McCamley, Callum Ross, Arron Thompson, Jason Gilchrist, Sam Hodgson, Alex Kempster, Trialist.
Defender Chris Hunter has completed a permanent move to West Auckland Town for an undisclosed fee.
Hunter joined the Mariners from Darlington in the summer and went on to make five competitive appearances for the club.
His only goal for Shields came in a 4-1 defeat at Farsley Celtic in August.
The right-back joined Northern League side West Auckland on loan last month, and that move has now been made permanent.
Everyone at the club would like to wish Chris well for the future. He and his family will always be welcome at Mariners Park.