South Shields were dominant as they moved five points clear at the top of Northern League Division Two by thumping Esh Winning 4-0 on Saturday.
It was a 10th win in a row for the Mariners – with nine clean sheets in that sequence – and the three points never appeared in any doubt at West Terrace.
Lewis Teasdale opened the scoring within a minute for the visitors, and added the third after Ben Riding had made it 2-0, while Julio Arca wrapped things up with a trademark free-kick towards the end.
Shields made the perfect start to the game as they took the lead within 60 seconds.
Riding’s ball forward was headed back to Arca 35 yards out, and he played it through for Andrew Bulford. First time, the striker sent it over the top for Teasdale to run onto, and he made no mistake as he swept it past the goalkeeper with the outside of his right foot.
The visitors were dominant in front of an away following thought to be over 150, and almost went 2-0 ahead when home goalkeeper Mark Connell fumbled a low cross from Adam Sakr before grasping the ball at the second opportunity.
Shields did not have to wait too long for their second, though, and it came in slightly fortuitous circumstances.
Adam Curry threw the ball in for Riding 30 yards out on the left, and his cross flew over the head of the goalkeeper before nestling in the opposite corner.
The Mariners looked like running riot, and the third goal arrived in the 19th minute when Arca superbly rolled the ball past his man on the right, cut inside and smashed an effort against the crossbar. The ball bounced back to Teasdale, who slammed in the rebound for his fourth goal for the club.
Riding was denied by an impressive save from Connell and Scroggins was also denied by the goalkeeper after being found by Arca, while the hosts’ only shot of the first half came two minutes before the break, but Adam Smith curled the free-kick harmlessly over.
Shields reasserted their dominance in the second half, and Wayne Phillips led a lightning quick counter before finding substitute David Foley, whose cross from the right was headed over by Teasdale.
Teasdale continued to be thwarted in his quest for a hat-trick, and his next opportunity came when Andrew Bulford picked him out with a superb cross, but he could only divert it wide.
Foley was looking sharp on the right flank, and some terrific play from the former Hartlepool United man saw him dribble his way through before finding Teasdale, who hit it wide.
Arca, Daryll Hall and Foley were denied by Connell, and Teasdale just failed to control a cross from Phillips before the Mariners did find goal number four.
It came 11 minutes from the end with a brilliant swish of Arca’s left boot.
He lined up a central free-kick 25 yards out and curled a trademark effort in off the post as he notched his third goal for the Mariners.
Shields enjoyed much of the late possession as their domination of the game continued, but they kept the clean sheet they had been seeking and moved into a strong position ahead of Tuesday’s trip to second-placed Chester-le-Street Town.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Curry, Hall, Riding, Arca, Sakr (Foley 46), Scroggins (c) (Wightman 77), Bulford (Byrne 70), Teasdale, Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Turner.
Goals: Teasdale (1, 19), Riding (13), Arca (79).