Robert Briggs’ 45-yard stunner helps South Shields to a fine away day victory
South Shields returned to winning ways as a polished away performance steered them to a 2-0 victory at Bamber Bridge on Saturday.
The game was lit up by a stunning 45-yard strike from Robert Briggs in the first half, a goal which put the Mariners 2-0 ahead after David Foley had opened the scoring.
Shields saw the match out effectively in the second half to end a run of three without a win and reignite their hopes of winning promotion from the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
They looked bright and confident from the first whistle, enjoying a good deal of possession before taking the lead in the 11th minute.
A Blair Adams effort from outside the box was deflected into the path of Lee Mason on the left of the area and he squared it for Foley to tap home from close range.
Brig almost provided an immediate response when striker Matthew Dudley let fly with a free-kick from distance, but Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell got two strong hands on the ball to push it over.
Then came Briggs’ moment of inspiration.
Adams pressured home goalkeeper Lloyd Rigby into a hurried clearance which he miscued to the feet of the midfielder, who was inside the centre circle.
Briggs hit a tremendous half-volley first time which left the despairing Rigby with no chance as it arrowed into the bottom corner to double the Mariners’ advantage.
That gave the visitors a good cushion but they were mindful of the fact they had squandered a two-goal lead against the same opponents a fortnight earlier and could ill afford a repeat.
They set about making the points safe in the remainder of the first half and almost did so when Mason was played in on the left of the box before firing narrowly wide.
Bamber Bridge could have pulled one back before half-time when a superb cross from Callum Spooner was flicked on to Chris Marlow, who prodded the ball wide.
Shields went straight down the other end and, after some terrific work near the halfway line from the impressive and industrious Luke Daly, Foley sprinted through before having a shot tipped wide.
Brig started the second half well but were unable to test Connell, and the closest they came was when a cross from the right was bundled past his own post by Dillon Morse.
Connor Bell was introduced just after the hour mark for his Shields debut and he was lively throughout.
He almost opened his account just five minutes after coming on when Daly picked him out with a brilliant cross, but the striker headed wide.
Daly was at the heart of much of the Mariners’ best attacking play, and went close to getting on the scoresheet towards the end as he produced a fine turn before forcing a fingertip save from Rigby.
Rigby also denied Briggs as the game ticked into stoppage time as the Shields midfielder let fly with another half volley which would have added to his collection of fine goals.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side saw stoppage time out to earn an important three points on a day which saw table-topping Farsley Celtic lose and second-placed Warrington Town draw.
They take a short break from league action on Tuesday when they travel to Dunston UTS in the semi-final of the Durham Challenge Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Lowe (Mouanda 80), Briggs, Mason (Bell 63), Daly, Foley (Cogdon 74). Subs not used: Lough, Harmison.
Goals: Foley (11), Briggs (17).