WATCH: Byrne magic sets up South Shields victory
South Shields turned on the style as they took another step towards promotion with a 5-0 thrashing of Crook Town last night.
Top scorer Warren Byrne set them on their way with a stunning first half goal, and that was added to after the break by strikes from Michael Turner, Leepaul Scroggins, Stephen Ramsey and John Grey.
The victory moved the Mariners eight points clear at the top of Northern League Division Two, and within five wins of securing promotion.
In truth, they could and perhaps should have won much more comfortably at Mariners Park.
Less than a minute into the game, Byrne was denied by a fine save by visiting goalkeeper Ryan Graham, who made some stunning stops on the night.
Martyn Coleman twice went close, while David Foley curled an effort not far over from the edge of the box.
A header from Byrne was kept out at point blank range by Graham, but Shields finally broke the deadlock in some style six minutes before the break.
Robert Briggs scuffed a shot from distance into the path of Byrne 10 yards out, and he flicked the ball up before sending a stunning overhead kick past Graham.
Shields motored on after the break, although Daniel Smith did cause them some problems at the other end.
Briggs went close before Byrne was denied by an incredible one-handed save from close range after being found four yards out by Foley.
The Mariners deserved to go further ahead, and after Briggs thrashed an effort which was saved, Turner nodded in from the resulting corner.
Captain Leepaul Scroggins - who became a dad for the second time last Thursday - headed in the third nine minutes before the end, just after Ramsey had an effort cleared off the line.
Shields kept up the pressure in the final minutes, and after more opportunities came and went, Ramsey made it four on 88 minutes.
Foley delivered a low cross from the right, and Ramsey got there first to force it over the line.
A minute into stoppage time, the fifth goal added a finishing touch to a fine home performance.
Byrne and Foley both somehow had efforts blocked by Graham, but the ball was played back to Grey, who made no mistake as he found the bottom corner.
The Mariners will look to take another step closer to promotion - and the title - on Saturday when they host Birtley Town.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Richardson, Smith, Grey, Carson, Hassan (Riding 69), Briggs, Teasdale (Turner 57), Scroggins (c), Byrne, Coleman (Ramsey 73), Foley. Subs not used: Connor, Hall. Goals: Byrne (39), Turner (68), Scroggins (81), Ramsey (88), Grey (90+1).