WATCH: Title party for South Shields as Crook are well beaten
South Shields wrapped up the league title with two games to spare on Saturday with a commanding 4-0 victory at Crook Town.
The Mariners were dominant from start to finish, and goals from Daryll Hall, Julio Arca, Warren Byrne and Lewis Teasdale set up a title party.
Shields will be presented with the Northern League Division Two championship at their game against Willington tomorrow at Mariners Park.
Saturday’s result never seemed to be in any real doubt, with the away side setting the tone immediately as Robert Briggs flashed a shot wide within 30 seconds.
The long throw of Ben Riding proved problematic for Crook throughout the first half, and it was he who created the first goal as his delivery from the left was headed in by Hall, despite goalkeeper Ryan Graham getting a hand to it.
Shields could have been out of sight in the early stages, with Briggs going the closest when his effort from an Arca pull-back was tipped onto the bar.
Crook forays forward were rare, but Scott Pocklington did need to be on hand to keep out a low effort by Shaun Tarling from distance.
The golden opportunities were falling the way of Shields, though, and Martyn Coleman spurned one when Hall flicked the ball onto him in the area, but he could only head over.
Arca missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 after he started an excellent move, with the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder only able to cut a shot wide.
An acrobatic effort from Barrie Smith from 30 yards just cleared the crossbar before the Mariners finally built their two-goal advantage five minutes before half-time.
After another long Riding throw from the left, the referee judged that a foul had taken place in the box, and Arca made no mistake from the spot as he rolled the ball past the goalkeeper to give Shields some breathing space.
The Mariners were desperately unlucky not to take a three-goal lead into the break, with substitute David Foley having a shot cleared off the line and Michael Turner also denied.
There was still time for Graham to make an acrobatic save to keep out a Turner effort, and this time the follow-up from Coleman was blocked in front of goal.
Any hopes of Crook fighting their way back into the game were extinguished eight minutes into the second half as Byrne got in behind on the left, showed his strength to beat his man and then rolled the ball between the legs of Graham for his 30th goal of the season.
Several other opportunities came and went, but Shields finally added a fourth when substitute Teasdale rattled in a penalty late on following a foul on Coleman.
It capped an excellent afternoon for the Mariners, who then celebrated on the pitch with their supporters amid jubilant scenes at Millfield.
Manager Jon King said: “I’m over the moon for everyone connected with the club.
“We’ve had some rough times, but they’re all in the past now, and hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The players have been fantastic all season and I’d like to thank everyone involved, particularly our chairman Geoff Thompson for coming in and rescuing the club.”
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Turner, Hall, Carson, Riding, Briggs, Scroggins (c) (Foley 32), Byrne (Ramsey 70), Coleman, Arca (Teasdale 61). Subs not used: Richardson, Hassan.
Goals: Hall (4), Arca (pen 40), Byrne (53), Teasdale (pen 87).