South Shields kept up their fine form last night as an excellent brace by Wayne Phillips helped them to a 4-2 win at Dunston UTS.
The Mariners had already won at Shildon and Morpeth Town over the last week to tighten their grip on second place in Northern League Division One.
And although they were given a few scares at the UTS Stadium, they always looked likely to come away with three points.
With an FA Vase tie against Runcorn Linnets coming up on Saturday, Shields made five changes from the team which thrashed Morpeth 4-0 on Saturday.
They did not make the best of starts at Dunston, with Scott Heslop spurning a decent early chance for the hosts as he turned a right wing cross wide.
David Foley went close at the other end, but it was not until a moment of quality on 17 minutes that Shields took the lead.
Andrew Stephenson picked up the ball centrally and played an exquisite pass through the middle for Phillips, who ran onto it and kept his composure before firing into the bottom corner.
Within three minutes, Dunston were level as Liam Thear scored via the post with a low effort from the edge of the box.
Foley restored the advantage shortly before half-time as he too was found by Stephenson before coolly beating the goalkeeper.
That handed the Mariners a half-time advantage against a hard-working Dunston side, whose manager Billy Irwin had resigned the day before the game.
After the break, Joss Carmichael did well to deny Heslop, while Stephenson had a shot saved at the other end.
Shields extended their lead in the 64th minute after more excellent play as he superbly beat his defender on the left-hand side.
He then pulled the ball back for Foley, whose effort struck the heel of Carl Finnigan before looping into the net.
Finnigan slammed a further shot wide before Dunston pulled a goal back, with Heslop sending a superb header into the top corner after a cross from the left.
Phillips scored the goal of the game with five minutes left.
Finnigan had a shot blocked and the ball broke to Phillips on the right, who cut inside and struck a stunning effort into the top corner.
North Shields’ 4-0 win at Seaham Red Star kept the gap at the top of the table to two points.
For the Mariners, though, the FA Vase is now on the horizon as in-form Runcorn Linnets visit South Tyneside.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Smith, Callaghan, David Carson (Briggs 56), Shaw, Riding (Morse 65), Phillips, Scroggins (c), Finnigan, Stephenson, Foley (Baxter 87). Subs not used: Connell, Cogdon.
Goals: Phillips (17, 85), Foley (39), Finnigan (64).