South Shields returned to winning ways in convincing fashion as they got the better of Bamber Bridge on an entertaining afternoon at 1st Cloud Arena.
A stunning long-range strike by Mitch Rose set the Mariners on their way and the confidence was flowing when Will McGowan slid in a second on 25 minutes.
Darius Osei made it three just after the hour mark and although the Brig pulled one back, Shields soon stretched their lead again when Sam Hodgson notched to effectively make the points safe.
Mark Yeates’ stoppage time consolation for the visitors completed the scoring but the majority of the 2,173 crowd went home happy as Shields reduced Buxton’s lead at the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League to two points.
Hodgson and Robert Briggs replaced JJ Hooper and the injured Cedric Main as Kevin Phillips made two changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Lancaster City in midweek.
There was an early opportunity when Osei headed narrowly wide from a McGowan corner and the breakthrough took just 13 minutes to arrive.
McGowan was again the provider as Shields won the ball high up the pitch and the midfielder laid it off, but this goal was all about Rose as he took a touch 25 yards from goal before rifling it past the despairing Matthew Hudson with one of the best strikes of the season.
The Mariners had started the game superbly and Osei was looking particularly electric. He threatened to make it two when he beat his man with a smart turn before breaking into the area and firing a low effort which Hudson clung onto at the second attempt.
Shields did get the second goal their play deserved when Dillon Morse caressed a terrific pass over the top from the halfway line on the right which McGowan controlled on his chest, took a touch and then slotted under Hudson with a clinical finish.
Osei was kept off the scoresheet as a Briggs header found him 20 yards from goal and with Hudson advancing, the goalkeeper beat away what was a long-range header from the frontman.
The home side’s best opportunity for a third before half-time was wonderfully created and culminated when Osei and Briggs combined to release Blair Adams into the box, but the left-back’s low strike from 10 yards flashed just past the opposite post.
There was also an effort from distance from McGowan which curled narrowly wide but Shields took good momentum into the interval as they aimed to come back out and make the points safe.
There were some half-chances for the visitors to gain a foothold early in the second half. A free-kick from Paul Dawson was deflected comfortably wide and Matthew Thompson blazed over from the edge of the box, with Shields also throwing bodies on the line to produce blocks from Fin Sinclair-Smith and Thompson.
Substitute Yeates had a shot deflected wide, too, but the most incisive play came from the Mariners when they needed it most just after the hour mark.
Jon Shaw cleared from a corner and Hodgson’s strong hold-up play saw the ball break to Osei, who took a touch on the halfway line to sprint clear of the Brig defence before racing through on goal and showing impressive composure to pick out the bottom corner and puncture any momentum the visitors had been building.
Adams sent a half-volley over as Shields aimed to stretch their lead even further and there were more chances, with Osei having a deflected shot saved and the same player firing narrowly wide from the edge of the box as the hosts continued to purr.
There was a glimmer of hope for Brig when Dawson converted a penalty after Shaw had been adjudged to have committed a foul in the area, but the Mariners were quickly on the front foot again and almost immediately restored their three-goal advantage, only for substitute Will Jenkin’s low strike to be kicked away by Hudson.
Shields did add a fourth 12 minutes from the end as Hodgson deservedly etched his name onto the scoresheet with a first-time finish from a teasing low cross by Adams.
The final word ultimately went to the away side when Yeates fired in a free-kick from the edge of the box a minute into stoppage time, but the points had long since been sealed by the Mariners as they continued their impressive home form and closed the gap at the top.
They are back in action next Saturday when they take on Stafford Rangers at 1st Cloud Arena.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse, Bodenham, Rose (Jenkins 55), Briggs, Hodgson, McGowan (Tee 80), Osei (Hooper 80). Subs not used: Kempster, Lowe.
Goals: Rose (13), McGowan (25), Osei (61), Hodgson (78).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields kicked off 2022 with maximum points as a well-worked goal from Will McGowan sealed a 1-0 win over Scarborough Athletic at 1st Cloud Arena.
McGowan struck midway through the first half as the Mariners produced a solid performance and displayed impressive character in front of a crowd of 2,238.
There were some nail-biting moments in the closing stages but Shields saw the game out to climb to third in the Pitching In Northern Premier League and within two points of leaders Matlock Town.
Graham Fenton named an attacking line-up as the hosts aimed to return to winning ways, with Darius Osei reintroduced to the team after serving a three-match suspension.
But it was Scarborough – victorious at promotion-chasing Bamber Bridge and Warrington Town in their previous two away games – who created the first chances, with defender Will Thornton having a powerful drive deflected over and Jacob Day heading over from the resulting corner.
Cedric Main had caught the eye in Shields’ 2-2 draw with Whitby Town five days earlier and he was again prominent here. He signalled his intent with some direct play in the 10th minute as he brought the ball inside from the left before zipping a low effort which Ryan Whitley did well to hold in the Boro goal.
Main was at the heart of what proved to be the only goal, which arrived in the 23rd minute.
The Mariners were rewarded for patient build-up play which began with Myles Boney and concluded when JJ Hooper found Main and he showed impressive control before playing in McGowan, who produced a composed finish into the roof of the net to score for the third home match in succession.
Shields did not have it all their own way, though, and were reminded about Scarborough’s threat as Simon Heslop’s strike was blocked and Thornton fired over from close range with the goal gaping.
At the other end, Dillon Morse headed over from a corner and Main struck a low shot narrowly wide after again coming inside from the left.
The large New Year’s Day crowd in attendance were treated to more excitement before half-time, with Osei stinging the palms of Whitley and Callum Ross denied by a block as Shields searched for a second, and Boney saving comfortably from Ashley Jackson and Ryan Watson to preserve the hosts’ lead.
The second half brought a more controlled performance from the Mariners, who had a good chance to double their advantage on 57 minutes when Main’s scooped pass found Hooper, whose volley cleared the crossbar.
Osei later drew a save from Whitley with a shot from the right of the area which lacked power, but Shields had to be alert defensively as Thornton had a header deflected wide and Boney was forced into a save from Watson.
The home side looked set to see out the remaining minutes with relative ease until Scarborough were presented with a golden opportunity six minutes into stoppage time when Kieran Glynn was played in on goal. There were sighs of relief all round when the forward flicked the ball wide.
Shields’ victory was duly confirmed as they closed the gap at the top. Just three points now separate the top five sides in the division.
The Mariners are back in action next Saturday when they travel to Mickleover, who recorded an impressive 4-1 win at Hyde United this weekend.
South Shields: Boney, Rose, Adams (c), Ross (Jenkins 56), Morse, Bodenham, Osei (Kempster 87), Lowe, Hooper, McGowan, Main (Tee 67). Subs not used: Shaw, Hodgson.
Goal: McGowan (23).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields endured a frustrating afternoon as Hyde United came from behind to win 2-1 at 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.
A crowd of over 2,000 was present as the CEFO Group Stand was opened for the first time, and the hosts enjoyed a superb start as Will McGowan headed them in front early on.
Jonah Mitchell equalised for Hyde less than two minutes later, though, and a goal from Liam Tongue just after the midway point in the first half proved the difference between the two sides as the Mariners fell to defeat.
Shields – without the ill JJ Hooper – started well in the driving rain, and took the lead on seven minutes with a well-worked goal.
Alex Kempster met Conor Tee’s cross from the right at the back post and sent the ball across goal, where McGowan was on hand to force a header home from close range.
The hosts’ advantage did not last, though, with Hyde pulling back on level terms less than two minutes later as a low ball from the left was zipped past Myles Boney by Mitchell, via a kiss of the post.
Shields’ response was good and they produced several bright patterns of play, one of which saw Jack Bodenham pick out Tee on the right before he laid the ball back to Callum Ross, who pinged it wide from 20 yards.
The Mariners had two penalty appeals waved away as challenges on Cedric Main and Tee went unpunished but Hyde went on to seize the initiative with a number of efforts on goal.
A first warning was fired when Harry Ditchfield raced down the right and sent in a terrific low cross which Jack Dyche was just unable to connect with, and Boney was tested soon after with a low strike from distance by Mitchell.
The Tigers went ahead as they pounced on a Shields error, with Tongue drilling a shot past Boney on 25 minutes.
A decent 10-minute spell after the goal threatened to reap dividends for the home side but their best chance was squandered, with Main unable to connect cleanly with a superb cross from Tee.
There was also an effort from 25 yards from Kempster which Green held before Hyde attempted to pepper the Shields goal in the closing stages of the first half with strikes from outside the box. The closest they came was a drive from 20 yards by Tongue which dropped not far past the post.
The first opportunity after the break also fell to the visitors, but Mitchell was unable to convert on the stretch from a Kyle Brownhill cross.
A better chance was created by Shields almost immediately and Main was the architect, displaying impressive strength to beat a number of challenges before sliding in Tee, whose low strike was tipped wide by Green.
At the other end, Boney did well to kick away a free-kick from Tom Pratt but there were previous few other opportunities in the period which followed as Shields battled in vain to find a way to an equaliser.
They did go close to netting one with five minutes remaining, but Blair Adams’ terrific effort from the edge of the box hit the outside of the post.
Hyde held firm and saw out four minutes of stoppage time to ensure they took maximum points back to Lancashire.
The Mariners will aim to bounce back next Saturday, when they host Witton Albion.
South Shields: Boney, Taylor, Adams (c), Ross (Lowe 69), Morse (Shaw 56), Bodenham, Tee, Briggs, Main, McGowan, Kempster (Hodgson 68). Subs not used: Jenkins, Massanka.
Goals: McGowan (7).
Image: Kev Wilson.