South Shields end 2022 top of the Northern Premier League with entertaining win over Whitby Town
Dillon Morse, Blair Adams and Tom Broadbent each struck their first goals of the season as a dominant Shields went in three goals to the good at half-time.
Whitby pulled one back early in the second half but Adams netted his second of the afternoon on 74 minutes to make the points safe, despite another late goal from the visitors.
The result moved the Mariners three points clear of Hyde United at the top as they rounded off the calendar year in style.
Shields quickly grabbed the initiative in front of the highest 1st Cloud Arena league crowd of the season, dominating the early possession as they probed for a breakthrough.
Chances were difficult to come by in the early stages, though, with Darius Osei and Adams off target in the only real sights of goal in the first 20 minutes.
The deadlock was broken when Martin Smith clipped a corner into the box from the right and Osei nodded it back across the area, where Morse looped a header past Shane Bland in the Whitby goal to ramp up the festive atmosphere further.
Shields became increasingly threatening as the first half progressed and scored their second four minutes before half-time.
Jordy Mongoy was found on the right of the area and although his drilled effort was kicked away by Bland, the ball broke to Adams and his deflected strike left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Osei curled just wide from 20 yards but the Mariners grabbed another three minutes into stoppage time when Smith's corner was headed in by Broadbent at the back post to cap a dream first half.
Whitby attempted to change the narrative by making a double substitution at half-time, and the alterations had the desired effect when one of those brought on, Connor Simpson, headed in just four minutes into the second half.
Shields responded immediately and almost restored their three-goal advantage, but Osei's header from a Jordan Hunter cross was kept out at point-blank range by Bland before Mongoy turned the rebound wide.
The game settled as the Mariners regained some control, but Whitby's second half showing was spirited as they kept their hosts honest.
Adams' second goal 16 minutes from the end effectively broke the Seasiders' resistance, though, with the Shields captain breaking into the area and coolly slotting past Bland.
That did not conclude the scoring, as Whitby pulled one back on 89 minutes thanks to a terrific strike from distance by Bradley Fewster.
Despite that, there was no way back into contention for the away side as Shields ended the calendar year with maximum points.
The Mariners kick-off 2023 with a short trip to Morpeth Town next Monday.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Broadbent, Liddle, Morse, Smith, Ross, Osei (Heaney 85), Alessandra (Briggs 65), Adams (c), Mongoy (Mottley-Henry 57). Subs not used: Doherty, Woods.
Goals: Morse (20), Adams (41, 74), Broadbent (45+3).