Four-goal blitz moves South Shields into top three of the Evo-Stik Premier Division

South Shields' Robert Briggs converts from the penalty spot. Picture by Kev Wilson.
South Shields' Robert Briggs converts from the penalty spot. Picture by Kev Wilson.

New signing Ben Harmison was among the scorers as South Shields returned to winning ways in style with a superb 4-0 success against Nantwich Town on Saturday.

The Mariners climbed into the Evo-Stik Premier Division’s top three thanks to a four-goal blitz after half-time.

Robert Briggs, Josh Gillies, Ben Harmison and Blair Adams were on the scoresheet as Shields secured three vital points in front of another four-figure crowd at Mariners Park.

The hosts went into the game looking for a positive response to the 3-0 loss at North Ferriby United five days earlier.

Although there was much bright play in the first 45 minutes, the Mariners did not significantly threaten a goal until late in the half.

The first real sight of goal for either side fell the way of Nantwich just after the half-hour mark when a free-kick from 25 yards by Matthew Bell just cleared the crossbar.

That sparked a flurry of action at the other end as Shields made some progress going forward.

A decent move led to a cross from the right by Craig Baxter which Matty Pattison headed wide, and a better chance fell the way of Gavin Cogdon as he ran through from the left before forcing goalkeeper William Jaaskelainen into a low stop.

A shot from distance by Gillies went over and Adams was also denied by Jaaskelainen as the game remained scoreless at half-time.

Nantwich had a good opportunity to take the lead three minutes into the second half when Callum Saunders controlled the ball with his chest before blazing over from 12 yards.

After that, it was all Shields.

The key moment they had been looking for arrived on 53 minutes when a Baxter cross from the right of the area was handled by a defender and the home team were awarded a penalty.

Briggs kept his composure to net his second penalty of the season as he rolled the ball down the middle.

Although Shields dominated possession, Nantwich almost equalised when a corner was headed goalwards by Troy Bourne, but Phil Turnbull was on hand to clear the ball off the line and maintain his side’s advantage.

The scoreline was given a more one-sided look just after the hour mark.

Turnbull picked up possession midway inside his own half and launched a brilliant ball forward which was controlled by Gillies before he thundered in an unstoppable effort from just outside the area which gave Jaaskelainen no chance.

It was Gillies’ first goal for the Mariners, and a thoroughly deserved one too.

Shields had the confidence to motor on from there and the introduction of Harmison - whose signing had been announced just hours before the game - gave them even more presence going forward.

He settled the contest just seven minutes after being brought on after he raced onto a ball over the top from captain Jon Shaw and saw his initial effort parried by Jaaskelainen before he powered the rebound into the top corner.

The scoring was completed nine minutes before the end after some impressive interplay on the left by Gillies and Adams, who was played into a shooting position on the inside-left of the box before picking out the bottom corner.

There could have been further goals for the Mariners, with the ever-impressive Gillies going closest with an effort from outside the area which went not far wide, but their victory was no longer in any doubt.

They will hope to build on the win when they travel to Stalybridge Celtic on Tuesday.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c) (Lough 82), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda, Briggs (Wright 64), Cogdon (Harmison 71), Pattison, Gillies. Subs not used: Pearson, Hunter.

Goals: Briggs (54 pen), Gillies (61), Harmison (78), Adams (81).

Attendance: 1,141.