A first half own goal was enough to hand South Shields a victory at Whitby Town as the Mariners impressed again in their fourth friendly of pre-season.
The Mariners were dominant in possession against their opponents, who operate two leagues higher, in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
They could and perhaps should have won more comfortably after a superb team performance, but settled for the one-goal margin of victory as their preparations for the new season were stepped up another notch.
Four trialists started the game, while the likes of Julio Arca, David Foley and David Palmer returned to the line-up after sitting out of Tuesday’s friendly at Bedlington Terriers.
Very quickly, they asserted their authority, winning the ball regularly high up the pitch as Whitby were pressed back.
Arca was particularly influential, and he was the first player to go close when his curled free-kick struck the wall before clearing the crossbar.
Jon Shaw also had a shot blocked, while Foley saw an effort well held by home goalkeeper Shane Bland, all before 10 minutes had been played.
The next big opportunity came just after the half-hour mark when Shaw slipped a ball through to Foley, but Bland did well to quickly narrow the angle before saving the frontman’s shot.
Arca saw another free-kick kept out before he conjured up a chance for himself with some impressive skill, dragging the ball back with one foot and then touching it past the defender, before being denied by the legs of Bland.
From the resulting corner, though, Shields were ahead, with Arca swinging in a wicked delivery from the right which was glanced into the net by the head of Whitby’s Steven Snaith.
Shaw had an effort kept out in the closing stages of the first half, but Shields went in at the break a goal ahead, which was the least they deserved for their play.
Chances were fewer in the second half, but Foley did go close to adding a second for the Mariners when they won the ball high up the field before he drove inside, hitting a powerful low effort which substitute goalkeeper James Dawson did well to palm behind.
Foley had another low shot saved by Dawson, and at that stage, Whitby had not troubled Shields throughout proceedings.
That changed with two minutes left, though, when a free-kick from deep caused problems, but no attacker was able to get on the end of it.
That seemed to spark the hosts into life, and substitute Cameron Park hit the bar with an audacious effort from outside the box as Shields were given another late scare.
After they survived that, it never appeared likely they would fail to win, and the referee’s final whistle represented another job well done for the Mariners, who next travel to Hebburn Town on Monday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Trialist (Carmichael 46), Baxter (Morse 46), Turner, Carson, Trialist (Storey 46), Arca, Trialist (Scroggins 46), Trialist (Trialist 80), Shaw (Byrne 70), Palmer (Ramsey 63), Foley.
Goal: Own goal (35).
South Shields’ pre-season schedule has become clearer after six friendlies were announced ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.
All of the games are subject to change, while there are more friendlies awaiting confirmation.
All those currently scheduled are away fixtures, beginning with a match at Bedlington Terriers on Tuesday, July 12.
Shields will travel to take on Ibby Hassan’s former club, Whitby Town, on Saturday, July 16, before making the short trip to Hebburn Town on Monday, July 18.
The Mariners will then face David Palmer’s ex-side, Seaham Red Star, on Friday, July 22.
A further game is scheduled at Crook Town on Tuesday, July 26, with the traditional Sam Bartram Memorial Cup match at Boldon CA taking place on Saturday, July 30.
South Shields Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Ibrahim Hassan from Whitby Town.
The defender has been with Whitby since 2009, having earlier played for Chester-le-Street Town and Jarrow Roofing.
The 27-year-old has now opted to leave the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side, where he has been competing against the likes of Darlington, Blyth Spartans and Salford City.
Hassan, who can play at right-back or in the centre of defence, will be available for Shields’ FA Vase campaign, and is expected to make his first appearance for the Mariners in a friendly against West Allotment Celtic on Saturday afternoon.
Shields’ FA Vase tie against Morpeth Town was postponed this morning because of a waterlogged pitch, and rearranged for Tuesday at Mariners Park.