South Shields hit five to move further clear at top
South Shields hit five past Brighouse Town for the second time this season as they went six points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division on Saturday.
The Mariners went in at half-time with a 2-0 lead after goals from Carl Finnigan and Louis Storey, but Brighouse battled well in the second half, and pulled one back with a strike from Gabriel Johnson.
The hosts’ good spell ended when defender Adam Field was shown a red card for a foul in the penalty area, with Barrie Smith dispatching the resulting spot-kick to restore Shields’ two-goal advantage.
Graeme Armstrong netted his first goal for the club and Alex Nicholson scored late on to seal an ultimately comfortable win for the Mariners against a team they beat 5-0 in August.
They started the game strongly, and Finnigan went close twice before putting them into the lead on 23 minutes, glancing in a header from a Robert Briggs free-kick.
Johnson forced Liam Connell into a decent save at the other end soon after, but Shields were on top, and went two ahead when Briggs’ corner from the left was nodded in by Storey.
Michael Richardson went close to making it three early in the second half, only for his chip to just clear the crossbar.
Brighouse grew into the game, and pulled a goal back when Johnson controlled a cross from the left before firing low past Connell.
The hosts’ good spell continued, with Aaron Martin testing Connell soon after.
However, their challenge appeared to be over when Field was sent off for a foul in the area, with Smith making no mistake from the spot.
When Smith cleared a header from Callum Hall off the line soon after, it appeared it would be Shields’ day. They made sure of that in the closing stages as they grew in confidence and put Brighouse to the sword.
Matty Pattison made a superb impact off the bench, playing a huge role in Armstrong’s goal as he played in Nicholson on the inside-left of the box, who in turn laid it on a plate for the frontman.
Nicholson got on the scoresheet himself with four minutes left, with Pattison again at the heart of it.
Good interplay between Pattison and Smith led to a shot from the former South African international which struck Nicholson before nestling in the goal.
It turned into a comfortable three points for the Mariners on another positive day in their quest for promotion, after close rivals Prescot Cables and Hyde United took points from each other in a 2-2 draw.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (c), Lough, Storey, Morse, Briggs, Richardson (Pattison 76), Smith, Armstrong, Finnigan (Nicholson 63), Holmes. Subs not used: Norton, Callaghan, Stephenson.
Goals: Finnigan (23), Storey (45+2), Smith (pen 75), Armstrong (82), Nicholson (86).