South Shields sink Stafford Rangers to get back to winning ways

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

South Shields will aim to make it three victories from four in the Evo-Stik Premier Division today after returning to winning ways on Saturday.

The Mariners are away to North Ferriby United this afternoon after beating Stafford Rangers 3-0 on Saturday.

Shields responded well to last Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat at Farsley Celtic and thoroughly deserved their victory at Mariners Park.

Gavin Cogdon, Robert Briggs and Carl Finnigan were all on the scoresheet in a comfortable win against a Stafford side reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

Lee Picton and Graham Fenton made no changes to the Shields side beaten at Farsley four days earlier, and were rewarded for the faith they showed in their players.

The Mariners almost took the lead in the opening minute, with a teasing free-kick from the left by Josh Gillies glanced inches wide by the head of Gary Brown.

Stafford enjoyed a good spell in the early stages, though, with Joe Cuff their main threat on the left flank.

He went close in the sixth minute when his drilled effort from the left of the penalty area fizzed just past Liam Connell’s post.

More good play on the left by Cuff created an opportunity for Harry Benns soon after, but the Rangers forward could not get enough on his shot to trouble Connell.

Cuff continued to be a thorn in Shields’ side, and a sweet half volley from the winger was deflected wide as Stafford threatened an opener.

Another chance came and went for the visitors when Theodore Bailey Jones arrowed a low ball across the area which striker Kyle Perry was just unable to slide home.

The Mariners gained more control the longer the first half went on, and had a great chance to take the lead when Gillies played a superb pass across the area to Dan Wright, but a tremendous save by goalkeeper Adam Whitehouse denied the midfielder.

The breakthrough arrived on 33 minutes when, after some good build-up play from Shields, Cogdon brilliantly beat his man in the area before firing past Whitehouse for his first goal of the season.

Finnigan could have made it two soon after following some good play down the left by Wright, but the striker’s effort was well held by Whitehouse.

Brown was in fine form at the back for Shields, and twice snuffed out decent Stafford chances before half-time as they tried to get back on level terms.

Shields introduced Robert Briggs from the bench at half-time and they started the second half with real intent.

Finnigan had a great chance to double their lead less than two minutes in, but a fine stop by Whitehouse denied him.

Connell denied Perry at the other end, while Cuff fired over from close range after a cross from the right by Thomas Thorley.

Shields were given a huge boost 12 minutes into the second half when Stafford captain Luke Jones was shown two yellow cards in the space of three minutes as the visitors were reduced to 10 men.

The Mariners kept the ball well as they used their one-man advantage positively, and Cogdon was rewarded for a tremendous run down the right when he was brought down by goalkeeper Whitehouse in the area.

Briggs stepped up and placed the penalty into Whitehouse’s bottom-left corner, and the points were then as good as secured.

Finnigan made it three towards the end with a terrific goal. Phil Turnbull scooped a superb ball over the top for the striker, who sent it first-time into the bottom corner for his third goal of the season.

It was a solid performance from the Mariners as they returned to winning ways, and they will look to follow it up with another positive showing this afternoon.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Wright (Pattison 64), Mouanda (Briggs 46), Cogdon, Finnigan, Gillies (Lough 74). Subs not used: Pearson, Hunter.

Goals: Cogdon (33), Briggs (pen 68), Finnigan (87).

Attendance: 1,363.