David Foley continued his excellent scoring form with another four goals as South Shields dismantled West Auckland Town to make it 16 wins in a row on Saturday.
Foley took his tally to 25 for the season with his third four-goal haul of the season, while Robert Briggs was also on target at Mariners Park in a 5-0 victory.
The result kept Shields second in Northern League Division One as they aim to maintain a challenge in four competitions.
Shields took the best part of half an hour to truly get into their stride against West, despite Carl Finnigan hitting the bar early on with a header when he got on the end of a Briggs free-kick from the left.
Julio Arca also went close as his free-kick from just outside the box looked set for the bottom corner before being pushed away by goalkeeper Lewis Graham.
Once the breakthrough came for the Mariners, though, there was no stopping them.
It arrived when Michael Richardson teased in a low delivery from the left which went behind the West defenders, allowing Foley to turn the ball home at the back post.
That was the signal for a Shields onslaught, with Richardson missing two big chances to put them further ahead moments later, first having an effort blocked before sending his second bite of the cherry over the bar.
They didn’t have to wait too much longer, though, with Richardson laying the ball off to Briggs on the edge of the box, before he curled a terrific effort into the corner of the net for his 14th goal of the season.
Five minutes before the break, the points were as good as secured when Dillon Morse headed a Briggs corner towards goal, and Foley was there to hook the ball over Graham.
Arca almost added his name to the scoresheet before the break when he played a short corner routine and advanced into the box, but his rasping effort was tipped over by Graham.
Foley completed his hat-trick 11 minutes into the second half after some brilliant one-touch play involving Richardson and Finnigan, who squared the ball for the in-form frontman to stroke into an empty net.
Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell was rarely called into action, but made an eye-catching save just after the hour mark from former Mariners midfielder Andrew Brown, whose shot from distance was destined for the top corner before being tipped over.
The Mariners then stepped through the gears again.
They had numerous chances for goal number five, perhaps the best of which fell to Briggs, who could only shoot over after being well found by Finnigan.
Richardson had a similar opportunity deflected over, while Arca fired narrowly over after some good play on the right.
Finnigan looked certain to get himself a deserved goal when he was found by a defence-splitting pass from Foley, but as he went to round Graham, the goalkeeper stuck out a hand and managed to get the ball under control.
Graham also saved from Foley and could only watch on as Darren Holden narrowly failed to get on the end of a cross from fellow substitute Alex Nicholson as the game ticked into its closing stages.
The goalkeeper was equal to further efforts from Foley and Briggs as it looked like Shields may have to settle for 4-0.
With three minutes left, the fifth goal finally did come when Shields played out from the back and worked the ball down the right flank, where Craig Baxter’s cross was flicked by Finnigan to Foley, who found the bottom corner for his 23rd goal in his last 13 starts.
The Mariners remain 11 points behind leaders North Shields with three games in hand, after the Robins won 2-1 at Penrith on Saturday.
South Shields are back in action on Wednesday, when they travel to Newcastle Benfield in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Nicholson 72), Callaghan, Lough, Morse, Arca (c) (Holden 69), Smith, Briggs, Finnigan, Richardson (Phillips 71), Foley. Subs not used: Parkin, Shaw.
Goals: Foley (30, 40, 56, 87), Briggs (37).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields play just their second league fixture of 2017 on Saturday when they host West Auckland Town.
The game at Mariners Park is a 3pm kick-off, and will see Shields aim to win for the 16th consecutive time in all competitions.
They go into the match sitting second in Northern League Division One, 11 points behind leaders North Shields, but with three games in hand.
The Mariners are taking on a West Auckland side now looking comfortable in 17th, having recovered from a difficult start to the campaign.
Among their ranks are former Shields players Lewis Galpin, Ibby Hassan, Andrew Brown and Adam Burnicle, so they are sure to be full of motivation.
They also have plenty of ability, as they proved recently with a fine 3-2 win at Consett, bringing to an end the Steelmen’s 14-match unbeaten run.
(Last six games – all competitions)
South Shields – WWWWWW
West Auckland Town – WLWLLL
West Auckland (vs West Allotment Celtic, Northern League Division One, January 28): Graham, Marron, Galpin, Hickman, Hassan, Close (R Gardner 88), Hedley, Brown, Burnicle, Boagey (Elgie 83), Richardson (Ruddy 54).
South Shields (vs Hartlepool United, Durham Challenge Cup, January 31): Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Briggs, Morse, Lough (Storey 56), Nicholson, Smith, Shaw (c) (Ramsey 52), Richardson, Phillips (Holden 66).
South Shields – Gavin Cogdon is expected to again miss out with a slight hamstring injury, but there could be a return to availability for the likes of David Foley, Carl Finnigan and Andrew Stephenson. Iulian Petrache remains suspended, though, while captain Leepaul Scroggins is still in the early stages of his recovery from a broken leg.
A WORD FROM THE MARINERS
Graham Fenton, South Shields joint manager: “Whenever you play West Auckland, they’re competitive. We go into the game hugely confident with the run we’re on, though, and we’re playing at home. It’s going to be very difficult at the weekend to select a starting 11. Possibly the 16 will be a little bit easier, because we’ve got a couple of injuries here and there. Selecting teams at the moment is difficult, but we’d much rather have it that way.”
Robert Briggs, South Shields midfielder and ex-West Auckland Town player: “We’re expecting another tough test against West Auckland. For everyone who comes to Mariners Park, it’s a big game for them with the crowds we get. West Auckland are always a good team. I was there a few years ago and they’ll bring a good team up. They’ll not lie down for us, so it’s another tough test, but we’ve got to come through it again.”
We really hope you can make it to Mariners Park to support the lads as they aim to maintain their fine form.
Kick-off is at 3pm, with admission prices costing £6 for adults, £4 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s. Remember, this is a non-ticketed game, so all admission is paid at the turnstiles. This is a league fixture, so season tickets, corporate and junior season passes are valid.
If you are unable to make it to the game, follow our live updates on Twitter by clicking here.
South Shields returned to winning ways on Tuesday with a confidence-boosting 4-1 victory at West Auckland Town.
Carl Finnigan was on target twice while David Palmer and Robert Briggs also netted in the win over the league’s bottom-placed side.
Shields were without the likes of Julio Arca, Jon Shaw, David Foley and Craig Baxter, but did not let their absence affect them too much.
They were up against a West side still smarting from a 9-0 loss at Washington on Saturday, which resulted in the departure of manager Andy Campbell.
Shields quickly got on top of them, with a David Carson effort saved early on.
The visitors found the breakthrough in the 16th minute as Palmer slid a ball through for Finnigan, who swept it into the bottom corner.
Within eight minutes, the Mariners’ lead was doubled when Carson curled a cracking effort off the bar and Shields kept the ball alive. Eventually, it was worked to Palmer, who hit across the goalkeeper and in off the post.
Within moments, Danny Carson almost added his name to the scoresheet, but he was denied by a superb close range save from home goalkeeper David Knight.
Shields kept West out well, with the Mariners strong defensively. Danny Carson made one fine tackle to stop a home attack.
Three minutes before half-time, the Mariners added a third goal when they were correctly awarded a penalty for handball.
Finnigan made no mistake from the spot as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
After the break, Shields continued where they had left off, and Knight made an incredible save on the goal line to deny Dillon Morse.
Finnigan also had a great chance to seal his hat-trick as he was played in on goal, but he could only shoot over.
Teenager Ewan Simpson was brought on after 55 minutes after being promoted from the reserves side.
The 18-year-old performed superbly at left-back after replacing the injured Louis Storey.
The hosts secured an unlikely route back into the game when Darren Richardson turned in a cross from the right.
However, they never appeared likely to truly threaten a comeback, with Simpson stopping their only meaningful attack with a fine block.
Briggs sealed the points once and for all with nine minutes left as he curled a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards.
Warren Byrne came closest to making it five after being brought on, but the ball eventually ran away from him after he successfully closed down the goalkeeper.
Shields remain top of the table, and take a break from league action on Saturday when they travel to Esh Winning in the FA Vase.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Danny Carson, David Carson, Morse, Storey (Simpson 55), Palmer, Scroggins (c) (Byrne 84), Finnigan (Ramsey 78), Briggs, Phillips. Subs not used: Connell, Cogdon.
Goals: Finnigan (16, pen 43), Palmer (24), Briggs (81).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.