South Shields prove they're up to the Challenge
South Shields eased into the semi-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup after producing an excellent display to see off a youthful Hartlepool United side at Mariners Park.
Goals from Jon Shaw, Anthony Callaghan and Robert Briggs sealed a 3-0 success for the Mariners.
It is now 15 wins in a row for Shields, who remain in contention in four competitions.
They were up against a Pools team featuring first-team players Nicky Deverdics and Jordan Richards.
Shields, meanwhile, showed three changes from the team which beat Team Solent 5-2 in the FA Vase on Saturday, with former Ashington captain Darren Lough among those coming in as he made his debut.
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Pools started decently, and played some good football in the early stages as they aimed to make an impression in front of a crowd of 704.
However, Shields could so easily have gone in front on six minutes when a good effort from Lough went just wide.
Kenton Richardson and Deverdics both had decent attempts from distance for the visitors, but it was the Mariners who seized control.
Michael Richardson curled a shot not far wide, while he created an even better chance for Alex Nicholson, who fired over from a good position.
The opener eventually came in the 22nd minute when Richardson delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right, and Shaw - moved up-front by Shields for the game - nodded into the bottom corner.
Shaw had two great opportunities to make it 2-0 before half-time, but first hit an effort over and later was denied by a good save from Pools stopper Ryan Catterick.
Catterick had a good game for Hartlepool, and did well to tip an effort from Nicholson around the post four minutes prior to the break.
He was beaten by Wayne Phillips soon after, but his curler also just cleared the crossbar.
In the second half, Shields picked up where they left off, and scored their second in some style on 51 minutes.
They attacked with pace and purpose, and when the ball was played in front of Callaghan on the outside-left of the box, he hammered it in off the crossbar to grab his first goal for the club.
A further boost for the Mariners came when Louis Storey was introduced with over half an hour left, as he made his first senior appearance since September after recovering from a broken leg.
The home support was delighted again when Briggs arrowed in a terrific free-kick off the bar on the hour mark to all but seal Shields’ progress into the last four.
They could have won by more, but Catterick was equal to a low Briggs shot from just inside the box as he palmed it round the post.
He also held onto an effort from Dillon Morse in the closing stages.
Eventually, though, Shields seemed to settle for 3-0, and could have conceded at the other end, but Pools substitute Jack Blackford saw his effort go not far wide.
The Mariners now await next week’s semi-final draw, but of more pressing concern is a return to Northern League Division One action on Saturday, when they take on West Auckland Town at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Briggs, Morse, Lough (Storey 56), Nicholson, Smith, Shaw (c) (Ramsey 52), Richardson, Phillips (Holden 66). Subs not used: Parkin, Arca.
Goals: Shaw (22), Callaghan (51), Briggs (60).
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Catterick, Richardson, Pollock, Assenso, Martin, Elliott, Hawkes, Deverdics, Richards, Orrell (Blackford 64), Rodney. Subs not used: Dudzinski, Turnbull, Fielding, Skidmore.