A young South Shields team pulled off a superb 2-0 win at Cleethorpes Town last night as they booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Integro League Cup.
The Mariners fielded five academy players from the start in a rematch of last season’s FA Vase final, and brought one more on from the bench.
The teenagers played superbly as they helped Shields progress to the last eight, with goals from Carl Finnigan and academy midfielder Dan Lowther sealing the win.
The deadlock was broken on 14 minutes when Cleethorpes keeper Sam Vince was punished for picking up a backpass. The free-kick, from just eight yards out, was touched to Finnigan, who rifled it low and through a sea of bodies as he scored his 20th goal of the season.
Both sides had half-chances in the rest of the first half and Cleethorpes had a decent spell after the break, but they were unable to find a way past Shields keeper Paul Woolston.
He made a superb fingertip stop from Alex Flett, while Jonathan Oglesby curled a low effort just wide and Marc Cooper was also denied by the goalkeeper as the hosts searched for an equaliser.
They were unable to find it, though, and Shields doubled their lead on the counter-attack when the ball was played through the centre for Lowther, who made no mistake from 20 yards as he calmly slotted home.
Cleethorpes showed good character in the closing stages, but they came up against a goalkeeper in superb form in Woolston.
He tipped over a piledriver from long range by Flett and also made a double save from Aldrich and Jack Richardson as the Mariners saw the game out. They will travel to Workington Town in the quarter-final next Thursday, March 29.
Before that, they travel to Glossop North End for an Evo-Stik North fixture tomorrow. The Mariners will be aiming to return to the top of the table.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Woolston, Kavanagh, Pattison, Ross, Patterson, Storey, Guy (Minchella 69), Lowther, Armstrong (Holmes 86), Finnigan (c) (Juul 52), Mason. Subs not used: Baxter, Lough.
Goals: Finnigan (14), Lowther (64).