South Shields made it six consecutive wins as they overcame Workington AFC by two goals to nil on Tuesday.
Robert Briggs calmly converted a penalty just before the break after captain Jon Shaw had been fouled in the box.
The in-form Nathan Lowe then sealed the three points with a free-kick that proved too powerful for Aaran Taylor midway through the second half as Shields maintained the pressure on league leaders Farsley Celtic.
Joint manager Lee Picton had said after watching his side beat Hednesford Town on Saturday that the Workington clash would be a “different test altogether”.
And that rang true in the opening exchanges as a bobbly pitch prevented the Mariners from getting into their normal passing stride.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors on 15 minutes, however. After an initial free-kick was cleared, midfielder Lowe made a brilliant tackle to win back the ball before his snapshot was gathered by Taylor.
Two minutes later the hosts nearly took the league for themselves. David Symington curled a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards on the left of the box, but it curled just past Liam Connell’s upright.
In truth, it seemed likely that this contest would be settled from a set-piece, with both sides proving to be more dangerous from dead ball situations than open play.
This time, it was striker Ben Harmison who came close as he connected with Phil Turnbull’s deep free-kick but it lacked any placement, allowing the keeper to make a routine save.
Shields continued to pose a threat from set-plays. Phil Turnbull swung a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area, and skipper Shaw was hauled to the ground as he tried to meet the delivery. The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot.
Briggs, who has been in superb goalscoring form this term, stepped up from 12 yards and placed his penalty into the right hand side of the net.
Just after the break, shot-stopper Connell was called into action for the first time as he did well to get behind Dan Carmichael’s sweet strike from distance.
Just as in the first period, set pieces seemed to be the more likely opening for both teams, so Lowe was presented with a great opportunity to extend his side’s lead as Luke Daly was fouled on the right hand side of the box.
From 20 yards, he stepped up and powered a drive that proved to be too well placed and powerful for Taylor, who got a hand to it that was insufficient keep it out of his goal.
From this point on, the Mariners looked comfortable as they saw out another vital three points in the season run-in.
With victory, Shields extended their winning form to six consecutive victories, keeping in touch with leaders Farsley Celtic, and keeping their promotion hopes very much alive.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Briggs (Lough 45), Lowe, Daly, Bell (Cogdon 84), Harmison (Mason 71).
Goals: Briggs (42), Lowe (78).
WORDS: Chris Erswell. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields joint manager Lee Picton believes his side will have to adapt as they travel to Workington AFC on Tuesday (7.45pm kick-off).
The Mariners are in a rich vein of form in the league,heading into the clash against the Evo-Stik Premier Division’s bottom team on the back of five successive victories.
Despite this, Shields still find themselves trailing league leaders Farsley Celtic by a point, and Picton believes his side will be in for another tough test on the road.
He said: “It’s going to be a different test altogether.
“I’ve been to Workington a few times myself, so I know exactly what it’s going to be like.
“We’re going to have to adapt, we’re going to have to find the right solutions to the various problems that we’ll be posed with and hopefully we can come out on top again.”
The Mariners put four goals past Hednesford Town on Saturday but Picton believes it was not a reflection of the game.
Picton said: “Obviously we’re really satisfied with the result, you know, you would’ve snapped somebody’s hand off for that result before the game, but it’s maybe not a total reflection on how the game went.”
He continued: “Fair play to Hednesford, because they came here and caused some problems, particularly in the second half of the first half.
“We started pretty brightly and Nathan (Lowe) got us in front with a really well taken goal.
“He’s obviously in a really rich vein of form in terms of goalscoring and I don’t know whether that just mentally made us take a back seat a little bit.”
Connor Bell netted his first goal since joining the club, and Picton hopes it will enable the striker to continue to find the net.
He said: “I was just delighted that Connor got his goal, finally, not that he’s had a huge number of games without a goal.
“I think we’ve been saying for maybe a week or so that if and when Connor does get that goal it will open the floodgates for him, and he’ll get a real boost in confidence.”
Full-back Blair Adams is expected to be fit enough to make the trip across to Cumbria despite being withdrawn after 60 minutes.
Picton explained: “We had to take Blair Adams off as a precaution because he’s been feeling his groin this week and he was just starting to feel it after about an hour.
“Obviously in Darren Lough we’ve got a more than an able replacement and Darren put in a real solid performance at left-back.”
Meanwhile, Gary Brown remains doubtful and Carl Finnigan and Barrie Smith continue their recovery from long-term injuries.
Ben Harmison is available for selection following his three-game suspension.
South Shields’ Evo-Stik Premier Division trip to Workington has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 9.
The game at Borough Park had been originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 16.
Adverse weather conditions in Cumbria in the lead-up to the match led to a waterlogged pitch.