South Shields hammer FC United of Manchester in pre-season win

Gavin Cogdon celebrates scoring
Gavin Cogdon celebrates scoring

South Shields put FC United of Manchester to the sword as they swept to a 3-0 pre-season friendly win at Mariners Park this afternoon.

A blistering start to the second half put Shields on their road to victory, with Gavin Cogdon scoring twice in the first two minutes of the half to put them in front.

Carl Finnigan added the third late on as the Mariners got the better of their opponents, who ply their trade two divisions higher than them, in National League North.

Both teams had their moments in a high quality first half, but Shields always looked the more likely to score.

Finnigan, in particular, was a constant threat to the FC United backline, but found it difficult to find a way past former Bristol City and Hull City goalkeeper Adriano Basso.

He was denied three times in the opening 20 minutes by Basso, including a superb one-on-one stop.

At the other end, Liam Connell was solid between the sticks for the Mariners, and he made a good low save to keep out a header from the dangerous Richie Baker.

Baker clipped the crossbar with a free-kick soon after, and the sides went in at the break level.

Within 40 minutes of the restart, Cogdon had changed all that.

A throw-in on the right from Alex Nicholson found half-time substitute Michael Richardson in the box, and he touched it to Cogdon on the inside-right of the area.

The striker still had much to do, but got away from his man before firing into the roof of the net to break the deadlock.

Just over a minute later, he netted again with an even better strike.

Barrie Smith stole the ball in the centre of the park and drove a Shields attack forward, finding Luke Sullivan, who in turn played it through to Cogdon. Just inside the box, he curled an inch-perfect effort into the bottom corner, leaving Basso with no chance.

The two-goal lead was one the Mariners never looked likely to surrender as they continued to play some superb football.

Sullivan made a mark on his home debut after being introduced at half-time, and on one occasion was denied by a stunning Basso save after his shot was destined for the top corner.

Andrew Stephenson was also kept off the scoresheet by a superb low save, but with 12 minutes left, Basso was beaten again.

Richardson played a free-kick from the right to Finnigan on the edge of the box, and his effort appeared to catch Basso out as it nestled in the centre of the goal.

Smith was one of several impressive performers for Shields in the second half, making a number of interceptions, one of which led to a low shot which Basso kept out.

It was a superb performance by Shields, and although it is only pre-season, it will have whetted their appetite for the season ahead.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell (Trialist 68), Baxter (Smith 46), Lough (Callaghan 46), Briggs (Trialist 68), Morse (Baxter 68), Shaw (c) (Lough 68), Nicholson (Storey 68), Pattison (Stephenson 46), Cogdon (Finnigan 68), Finnigan (Sullivan 46), Blinco (Richardson 46).

Goals: Cogdon (46, 47), Finnigan (78).

Attendance: 1,193.