Thornaby 3-0 South Shields
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: John Cullerton & Sons Ltd.
South Shields conceded three first half goals as Thornaby eased to a 3-0 win in Ebac Northern League Division Two on Saturday.
The Mariners struggled to make an impact at Teesdale Park, although they did have a very strong penalty appeal waved away with the score at 1-0.
It was all a far cry from August, when Shields recorded their biggest league win for five years when they crushed Thornaby 6-0.
The Blues have improved considerably since then, and they started strongly against a Shields side missing the likes of Paul Kane, David Molloy and Lee Maitland, as well as the injured Craig Roberts.
Thornaby enjoyed some good possession in the Shields half and immediately put their visitors under pressure, but in the second minute, the Mariners broke strongly.
Barrie Smith played in makeshift striker James Talbot on the right, and his cross just evaded David Conroy, who had rushed in from the left.
However, Thornaby picked up where they left off after that, and in the fifth minute, they took the lead.
Kieran Edwards played the ball through for Daniel Lofts on the inside-right of the box, and he slotted it into the opposite corner.
Five minutes later, Lofts fired wide from distance, before Shields began to make an impact at the other end.
Adam Ward and Talbot linked up on the right, and the former’s cross fell for Stephen Ramsey in the centre, with his header going into the hands of home goalkeeper Michael Duff.
Soon after, Ramsey played in Smith, who went on a strong run through the centre before being denied by Duff.
On 16 minutes, Conroy had Shields’ best chance of their period of pressure when a ball in from the right fell to him in the centre, but his poked effort was kept out by Duff.
Shields goalkeeper Steven Hubery saved a drilled effort from Craig Ruddy soon after, while at the other end, Duff denied Ramsey after the ball broke to him in the box.
On 20 minutes, the half’s big talking point arrived as the visitors had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down.
Steven Graham lofted a ball over the top for Smith, and with the midfielder’s eyes placed firmly on the ball, he appeared to be clattered to the ground by Duff. The referee blew his whistle, with Smith lying prone on the ground after being winded, but incredibly pointed the other way, denying Shields the spot-kick most in the ground thought they should have had.
Smith got to his feet after several minutes on the ground, and after that moment, Thornaby had the better of proceedings.
Hubery palmed an effort from Daniel Lambert into the air on 24 minutes, and with the ball travelling back towards goal, Chris Locke did well to clear it off the line.
The hosts did not have to wait long to go 2-0 up, though, as the ball was recycled, with Richard Walker sending in an excellent cross from the left which Jamie Clarke nodded past Hubery.
Hubery kept out an effort from Clarke later in the half, while the Thornaby striker also headed over after another cross from the left.
Walker, meanwhile, cut inside from the other flank and fired wide, before the home side grabbed their third on the stroke of half-time.
Clarke was again credited with the goal, with his low free-kick from 25 yards hitting a member of the Shields wall before going the opposite way, trickling into the bottom corner.
That gave Thornaby a 3-0 lead at half-time, with the Mariners left with a mountain to climb.
Clarke should have scored his hat-trick two minutes after the restart, but after being played in on goal, he rolled his effort just past the post.
The hat-trick goal continued to elude Clarke as he endured a frustrating second half.
His next chance came when Hubery parried Ruddy’s fierce drive, with Clarke sending the rebound wide.
Jamie Bellamy, meanwhile, smashed an effort from long range just over the bar, while in the last 20 minutes, Thornaby had a host of opportunities to further extend their advantage.
First, Clarke drilled a shot just wide after being found by Ruddy, before Shields were forced into a change when the injured Smith was replaced by Graham Stephenson.
From the restart, Hubery did brilliantly as he came out to smother Clarke’s shot, while he made another superb save with 13 minutes left, getting a strong hand to divert Lofts’ shot away from goal after he was played in by Clarke.
Soon after, it was Clarke who was denied by Hubery, while the visitors could have grabbed a consolation with five minutes left.
Talbot, who had worked tirelessly in an unfamiliar role, did well to create space for himself in the box, and fired an effort just past the post.
The hosts went on a counter-attack, with substitute Denis Alderson volleying wide at the far post, while with two minutes left, Clarke’s superb backheel fell perfectly for Ruddy in the box, but he rifled over.
Shields spent much of the stoppage time in the Thornaby half, and the last chance for a goal back fell to Richard Latimer, making his debut after signing from Killingworth Station.
However, his miscued effort was headed away from danger just as it appeared it might find the corner, and the 3-0 win was secured for Thornaby on a disappointing day for the Mariners.
Shields host Willington at Peterlee on Saturday from 3pm, and will hope to avenge their 2-1 league defeat from the first game of the season.
THORNABY: Duff, Walker, Robinson, Horsman, Davies (c), Bellamy, Ruddy, K Edwards, Clarke, Lofts (Alderson 81), Lambert (McQueeney 64). Subs not used: Jones, P Edwards.
Goals: Lofts (5), Clarke (25, 45).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Hubery, Ward, Feasey, Locke (c), Burn, Latimer, Graham, Smith (Stephenson 74), Talbot, Ramsey, Conroy. Subs not used: Grant, Bell.