South Shields lift Durham Challenge Cup – halfway to memorable quadruple

Party time as South Shields lift the Durham Challenge Cup. Picture by Peter Talbot
Party time as South Shields lift the Durham Challenge Cup. Picture by Peter Talbot

South Shields claimed their second piece of silverware of the season with a 2-0 win over Billingham Synthonia in the Durham Challenge Cup.

Goals from Andrew Stephenson and David Foley meant the Mariners added to their Northern League title – with two cup finals still to come.

The first half at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park took an age to explode into life. Synners had defended in numbers, and with great vigour especially when Shields got around the penalty area.

The breakthrough finally arrived on 40 minutes. Wayne Phillips got to the byline on the left and when his cross was only half-cleared, Stephenson side-footed home despite goalkeeper Jack McLaren getting a hand to the ball.

Stephenson had been the best player of a poor opening 45 minutes, operating in a right-sided role. His exquisite pass had created the best chance of the half, just three minutes before his goal, but Gavin Cogdon couldn’t keep his volley down.

If Shields had been lacklustre in the opening period, they came racing out of the blocks after the interval and took just 90 seconds to double their lead.

Cogdon fed the overlapping Alex Nicholson, his pull-back found Michael Richardson and when he mis-kicked his effort it rolled kindly into the path of Foley to tap home at the far post.

The rest of the half saw Synners – promoted from Division Two this season – barely able to get out of their own half as the Mariners pressed home their advantage.

Substitute Carl Finnigan, Foley, Richardson and Phillips all went close to adding a third, but Shields were always in control and comfortably wrapped up the trophy.

They now face North Shields in the League Cup final at Whitley Bay on Saturday, looking to make it a treble.

South Shields: Connell, Nicholson, Callaghan, Briggs, Shaw, Lough, Stephenson (Smith), Phillips (Holden), Cogdon (Finnigan), Richardson, Foley. Not used: Storey.