South Shields forward David Foley turned in a virtuoso performance as his fantastic four put Blyth Town to the sword last night.
The Mariners were in danger of falling victim to a League Cup upset at Mariners Park as Northern League Division Two side Blyth took a 2-1 lead into half-time.
However, Foley inspired Shields to victory as they became rampant in the closing stages, and in the end he could have had even more than four goals to his name.
Malky Morien had been a constant danger to the home back-line, particularly in the first half. He fired over from a tight angle early on, and the striker always looked like Blyth’s biggest threat.
David Robinson also whistled an effort across the face of goal as Blyth caused the Shields defence some problems.
However, Foley injected the first bit of true quality into the game as he brought the ball inside from the right before rifling a left foot effort into the bottom corner to hand Shields the lead.
David Carson was unlucky not to add to the scoring when he went on a fine dribble before seeing his top corner-bound effort tipped over by Mathew Crook.
Blyth levelled 11 minutes before half-time when Morien’s sweet strike from outside the box found the net, and he completed the turnaround on the stroke of the break when he dribbled across the field before hitting into the bottom corner.
Shields’ performance had collapsed in the latter stages of the first half, but they came out for the second period with renewed vigour, with Julio Arca brought on for his 50th appearance for the club.
The Mariners had a penalty within three minutes of the restart, but when Carson hit it wide, it felt like it might be one of those nights.
Robinson went close to extending the Division Two side’s lead, but Shields got back on level terms in the 69th minute when he was found by a superb defence-splitting pass by Arca before finishing well past Crook.
It was soon three for Foley when Andrew Stephenson found him brilliantly before he hit the ball home from a tight angle.
Wayne Phillips hit the crossbar with an audacious chip, and the rebound fell to Andrew Stephenson, who also hit the woodwork.
Foley and 17-year-old substitute Danny Barlow – brought on for his debut – saw efforts kept out by Crook before Foley did grab his fourth as he turned in from close range.
Barlow, Stephenson, Riding, Foley and Carson all almost made it five in the final few minutes, but Shields had done enough to make it into round three.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Danny Carson, Smith, Morse (Arca 46), Riding, David Carson, Stephenson (Bolam 88), Ramsey (c) (Barlow 73), Phillips, Foley. Subs not used: Parkin, Finnigan.
Goals: Foley (21, 69, 72, 82).