Comfortable night as Stephenson, Foley clinch Durham Challenge Cup for South Shields

South Shields celebrate their cup success
South Shields celebrate their cup success

South Shields eased to a second trophy of the season last night as they kept their hopes of a remarkable quadruple alive.

The Mariners were 2-0 winners over Billingham Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup at Victoria Park, Hartlepool.

Andrew Stephenson and David Foley grabbed the goals either side of the break as Shields lived up to their pre-match billing of heavy favourites.

Second Division Synthonia had a decent opening to the game, without significantly threatening the Shields goal.

The longer the first half went on, the more dominant in possession the Mariners became, with Stephenson, in particular, proving to be a constant threat.

After beating his man inside and out on one occasion, Stephenson clipped the ball just wide, while Robert Briggs also went close when his strike from distance took a deflection and was tipped over.

Gavin Cogdon had a golden opportunity eight minutes before the break when Stephenson played him in, but he skied his shot as the wait for the breakthrough went on.

It finally came five minutes before half-time.

Wayne Phillips drove towards goal on the inside left of the box and fizzed a low ball in which was only half-cleared to Stephenson, who sent it first time into the bottom of the net.

There could have been another goal before the break, but, after another Stephenson pass, Cogdon was denied by goalkeeper Jack McLaren, who could only watch as Foley fired the rebound over.

Foley took just two minutes in the second half to get on the scoresheet at his former home ground.

The ex-Hartlepool United frontman pounced at the back post for his 33rd goal of the season after a miscue from Michael Richardson.

Richardson curled a shot just past the post himself soon after as Shields kept up the pressure.

In the closing stages, there were numerous chances for the Mariners to add to the scoring, and the closest they came was when substitute Carl Finnigan had an effort kicked away by McLaren, who also kept out the rebound from Foley.

A clean sheet was comfortably secured by Shields as they added to the Northern League title they picked up last month.

This was not a time for huge celebrations, though – the Mariners still have two cup finals to come, starting with their encounter with North Shields in the League Cup at Whitley Bay on Saturday.

Shields very much hope that it’s a case of two down, two to go.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson, Callaghan, Briggs, Shaw (c), Lough, Stephenson (Smith 69), Phillips (Holden 80), Cogdon (Finnigan 62), Richardson, Foley. Sub not used: Storey.

Goals: Stephenson (40), Foley (47).