South Shields produce five-star display to put Grantham Town to the sword
South Shields produced a five-star display as they returned to winning ways in style against Grantham Town on Saturday.
Shields were in ruthless form at Mariners Park as they emphatically ended a run of four consecutive defeats in all competitions.
A stunning goal from Robert Briggs gave them a first half lead and the Mariners were dominant after the break as they put the Gingerbreads to the sword.
David Foley made it 2-0 before all three substitutes got on the scoresheet, with Gary Brown, Carl Finnigan and Ben Harmison all finding the net.
Shields had dropped to fifth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table after defeats at Warrington Town and Buxton.
But the result of Saturday’s match rarely seemed in doubt as the hosts made their intentions clear from the first whistle.
They attacked with purpose, and much of their bright play in the early stages originated on the left flank.
Foley and Blair Adams both teased in fine crosses which Shields narrowly failed to convert, while Foley also came inside from the left before dragging an effort wide.
The deadlock was destined to be broken in spectacular fashion, though.
It arrived in the 13th minute as Ursene Mouanda fizzed the ball across midfield to Briggs 30 yards out. He took a touch before powering an inch-perfect shot into the top corner as he scored a goal which will surely go down as one of the best of the season.
The Mariners’ early progress was halted when captain Jon Shaw was forced off with a groin injury on 18 minutes, but his replacement, Brown, went on to have a fine game at the heart of the defence.
Grantham’s best spell came midway through the first half, but they were unable to draw back on level terms.
Dillon Morse did well to block an effort from Ryan Oliver, and from the resulting corner Tom Siddons headed wide.
That was as good as it got for the visitors as Shields took control.
Josh Gillies forced goalkeeper Theo Richardson into a decent save with his legs, and Adams did beat him a minute later, only for his curler to go just past the post.
The Mariners maintained the pressure and went close again when a Brown header was cleared off the line and Briggs nodded one not far wide.
Shields were even more assertive after half-time as they produced some of their best football of the season.
They almost went 2-0 up in the 47th minute when Gillies played Foley in on the inside-right of the box, but his powerful effort was impressively tipped over by Richardson.
Shields played the resulting corner short and Gillies’ cross from the right found its way to Foley at the back post. He took a touch before scooping the ball into the opposite corner to double his team’s advantage.
Lee Mason had a fine game for the Mariners and almost got himself on the scoresheet when Mouanda touched the ball to him just outside the area, and his shot was acrobatically tipped over by Richardson.
The third goal did arrive for Shields just before the hour mark after another short corner routine saw Gillies’ cross from the left find Brown at the back post, and he nudged the ball home for his first goal for the Mariners.
Finnigan was next to get in on the act when Briggs played him on in the inside-right of the area and he steered the ball across the goalkeeper with a fine low finish.
Shields were rampant now and made it a five-star display when Craig Baxter scampered to the byeline before delivering a superb cross onto the head of Harmison, who guided it home.
It was an emphatic response to a difficult week from the Mariners, and they now prepare for a trip to Hednesford Town on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c) (Brown 18), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda, Briggs, Gillies (Finnigan 61), Mason, Foley (Harmison 73). Subs not used: Lough, Wright.
Goals: Briggs (13), Foley (48), Brown (59), Finnigan (82), Harmison (85).