South Shields returned to winning ways in style with a convincing 4-0 win over Ramsbottom United at Mariners Park on Saturday.
An own goal from Luke Thompson was added to by a strike from Louis Storey before half-time as the Mariners seized control of the game.
Carl Finnigan and Jamie Holmes also got themselves on the scoresheet in the second half as Shields recovered well from their 3-2 defeat at Bamber Bridge four days earlier.
The result kept them second in the Evo-Stik North Division, and the Mariners were further boosted when they discovered third-placed Scarborough Athletic had been beaten at Atherton Collieries.
Shields started Saturday’s game on the front foot, and went close in the first 20 seconds when Darren Lough advanced into the penalty area before seeing his cross turned away by goalkeeper Sam Ashton.
Ramsbottom possessed a threat of their own, though, and almost opened the scoring when Sam Madeley turned outside the box and rifled an effort which Liam Connell did well to save.
Connell made another fine low stop when sloppy play at the back by Shields let in Greg Daniels, whose shot was destined for the bottom corner.
The Mariners found the breakthrough in the 12th minute when Robert Briggs lofted a ball over the top towards Finnigan.
Thompson got to the ball first and sent it sailing past his own goalkeeper to the delight of much of the crowd of over 1,500.
Shields put their foot on the gas, with Lee Mason firing over before the second goal arrived midway through the first half.
Briggs was again at the heart of it, curling in a free-kick from the left which Jon Shaw headed against the bar.
The ball was kept alive and Ashton denied Holmes before it broke to Storey, who calmly tucked it away.
The Mariners were playing their way through at will at this stage and had numerous chances to make it three.
Mason and Finnigan both saw decent efforts saved, and Ashton also denied Shaw after he was picked out by a superb pass from Julio Arca.
The closest the visitors came to pulling a goal back before half-time was eight minutes before the break when a Jamie Rother free-kick was well held by Connell.
Shields struggled to get going at the start of the second half, although Finnigan did see an effort saved after being played in by Mason.
Connell, who was again in fine form, produced another impressive stop from Rother before the Mariners put the game to bed.
Finnigan received the ball on the left of the box, brought it inside and found the bottom corner, and with that the points were safe.
Gavin Cogdon was introduced from the bench and had an immediate impact as he ran in behind the defence on the right before pulling the ball across the area for Holmes, who brilliantly flicked it home to make it four.
Holmes and Finnigan both went close as Shields pushed for a fifth, and Briggs also had a free-kick saved by Ashton.
Chances continued to come and go in what was an entertaining match, and Ramsbottom had an opportunity to score a consolation when Rother was played in on the right, but he skied his effort.
Shields could have added a final bit of gloss to the scoreline in the 90th minute when good work from Cogdon led to fellow substitute Michael Richardson being played in, but he smashed his shot just past the post.
Cogdon also had a strong penalty appeal turned down a minute into stoppage time after he wriggled his way through, but the job was already done for Shields.
They continue their bid for a third successive promotion tomorrow when they host Ossett Town at Mariners Park. Kick-off is at 7.45pm, and admission is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Richardson 62), Storey, Briggs, Mason (Cogdon 59), Finnigan (Armstrong 75), Holmes. Subs not used: Woolston, Juul.
Goals: Thompson own goal (12), Storey (23), Finnigan (58), Holmes (61).