Tow Law Town 0-3 South Shields
Warren Byrne stole the show with a stunning goal of the season contender as promoted South Shields cruised to a 3-0 win at Tow Law Town on Saturday.
Byrne scored an incredible volley to complete the scoring after setting himself up with two flicks into the air.
Also on the scoresheet were Ben Riding and Robert Briggs, who smashed a free-kick into the top corner as the Mariners moved to within two wins of securing the Ebac Northern League Division Two title.
There was a party atmosphere among the strong away contingent at Ironworks Road after Shields had wrapped up promotion two days earlier with a 1-0 victory at Easington Colliery.
However, any fears the Mariners would suffer a hangover were quickly allayed as they took control of the game from the outset.
Tow Law blocked a number of early efforts, while David Foley had two shots well saved by home goalkeeper Robbie Anderson within the first six minutes.
Foley also blasted an effort not far over after good link-up play with Martyn Coleman on the right, while Anderson denied Michael Turner after he aimed a shot from the left.
Anderson was again on hand to keep out a header from Riding, but it was Tow Law who came the closest to taking the lead, with Joe Johnson rattling the crossbar with a sweet strike from outside the box.
With 33 minutes played, Daryll Hall saw two headers blocked but the ball fell to Foley, who hooked the ball against the crossbar from close range as Shields were again unable to break the deadlock.
However, that changed seven minutes before half-time when Briggs’ corner from the right was flicked on to Riding, and he directed a brilliant header into the opposite top corner from the left of the box.
An even more impressive goal was scored soon after when Briggs picked his spot with a free-kick 25 yards out on the left, lifting it into the same section of the goal Riding had found minutes earlier.
Byrne was introduced from the bench two minutes before half-time after an injury to Stephen Ramsey, and two minutes after the break, he scored the goal which has since brought him headlines and attention across the globe.
The ball was headed out to him outside the box, and Byrne did the rest without the ball touching the floor. First, he flicked it into the air with his right foot, then he hooked it over his head before unleashing a stunning left foot volley which rippled into the bottom corner to cap off a stunning, almost miraculous, piece of play and add to Byrne’s growing collection of incredible goals.
Byrne continued to look the most likely player to score in the remainder of the match, and he headed a Foley cross not far wide with his next opportunity.
He also had a low effort from the left deflected just past the post, while at the other end, David Parker went close from distance as he crashed a shot into the side netting.
Riding almost claimed his second of the afternoon when he met a free-kick from deep by Danny Carson with a powerful header, but Anderson did brilliantly to push it away.
Byrne also nodded wide from a Turner cross, while Coleman, Byrne and Lewis Teasdale – on his return from injury – were not far off target.
The Mariners thought they had gone 4-0 up when Riding’s drive from distance was pushed out by Anderson to Byrne, but the flag controversially went up for offside after Shields’ top scorer had crashed the ball in.
A fourth goal continued to elude the away side, with Coleman having a shot deflected just over, Teasdale volleying wide from a corner and Foley seeing a low effort held by Anderson.
The one-way traffic continued, but without a final touch in the closing stages as Shields eventually settled for a 3-0 victory.
They go into their final four league fixtures of the season knowing that two wins will be enough to secure the league championship.
Their next match is at Northallerton Town on Wednesday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Richardson, Smith (Teasdale 63), Turner, Hall, Carson, Riding, Foley, Scroggins (c), Ramsey (Byrne 43), Coleman, Briggs (Hassan 50). Subs not used: Pocklington, Galpin.
Goals: Riding (38), Briggs (41), Byrne (47).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.