South Shields move top with victory over Lancaster City
South Shields moved to the top of the Northern Premier League for the first time last night as two second half goals saw off the challenge of bottom side Lancaster City.
Managerless Lancaster proved to be plucky opponents at Mariners Park, but Shields’ quality ultimately shone through.
Two goals within the space of five minutes from Josh Gillies and Dillon Morse tipped the game in their favour as they made it four wins in a row in all competitions.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton made just one change to the Shields team which beat Garforth Town 5-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Dan Wright replacing Matty Pattison.
It was to prove a difficult first half for the Mariners as Lancaster soaked up the pressure and were content to sit deep.
Robert Briggs and Morse had early opportunities, but were unable to test visiting goalkeeper Aiden Stone.
The closest the home side came to opening the scoring in the first half was through Briggs, whose free-kick from the left of the area went just past the post six minutes before half-time.
Picton and Fenton made a double change at the break as Carl Finnigan and David Foley were introduced from the bench.
That immediately gave them an added threat going forward, but Lancaster almost took the lead when a header from Matthew Blinkhorn hung in the air before striking the crossbar.
Shields started to build some pressure as the second half advanced as they continued to probe and keep the ball well.
Gillies had a good chance when Finnigan laid the ball off to him, but his effort found the side netting.
Jon Shaw also had an inviting opportunity when a Gillies corner dropped onto his head and he nodded wide.
The breakthrough finally arrived on 67 minutes when the impressive Gillies played a give and go on the edge of the box before stroking the ball into the bottom corner with a delicate finish.
Shields went agonisingly close to doubling their lead when a Foley effort was parried by Stone to Gavin Cogdon, but he smashed the ball against the bar from close range and a second follow-up from Finnigan also struck the woodwork.
The Mariners won a corner, though, and from it they did score their second as Morse met a Gillies corner with a terrific run and header which found the bottom corner.
Cogdon claimed he got a touch on the way through, and the debate over the goalscorer continues among the Shields ranks.
Finnigan went closest to making it three when his flicked effort was cleared off the line, while Lancaster almost claimed a consolation late on, but Robert Wilson’s sweet strike hit the outside of the post.
It was another solid win for Shields as they climbed to the top of the league ahead of Saturday’s trip to Matlock Town.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Hunter 77), Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda (Foley 46), Briggs, Cogdon, Wright (Finnigan 46), Gillies. Subs not used: Brown, Lough.
Goals: Gillies (67), Morse (72).