South Shields produced a hugely impressive performance to progress in the FA Youth Cup as they defeated Gateshead 7-1.
On a sopping evening in South Tyneside, the young Mariners clinched victory in the second qualifying round thanks after a first half James Thew hat-trick was followed by goals from Noah Farrington, Alex Thompson, Fin Neary and Bryan Taylor after the interval.
Shields had already convincingly beaten Whitley Bay and Billingham Town in the competition, and are now just one victory away from reaching the first round proper.
Thew opened the scoring after just five minutes with some truly outstanding footwork as he beat his man and cut inside, thundering an effort into the top right corner of the Heed goal.
Twelve minutes later he had his second, as a similar build-up this time finished with a low strike into the bottom corner of James Walton’s goal.
All the momentum was with the hosts and James McGeorge made a driving run down the left flank before firing a brilliant ball to Thompson, who had an effort saved well by the Gateshead goalkeeper.
Down the other end, the visitors looked certain to claw one back but Kyle Seymour in the Shields net rushed out to make an outstanding one-on-one save, keeping the two-goal cushion for his side 21 minutes in.
It was all Shields from that point on, with Taylor making run after run down the left flank from full-back, eventually getting a shot off which was blocked by a sliding Gateshead defender.
The visitors recorded their only shot on target in the first half five minutes from time, as a low strike was easily stopped by Seymour between the sticks.
The young Mariners made it three with the last kick of the first half as Thew completed his hat-trick with a fine, low finish to the left of the visitors’ goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
The Heed almost drew first blood in the second half as Kai Sample was running in on goal, but he was flagged for offside by the assistant referee.
Bang on the hour mark, Shields made it four as Farrington headed home from close range following a corner routine as he did well to beat his man in the air.
Five minutes later it could have been five as Olly Cresdee beat his man with some tricky feet and put a peach of a ball towards the back post, where Taylor just missed the first time volley.
With 15 to go the hosts made it five as Neary laid the ball off to Thompson, who stayed composed to slot the ball low past Walton.
On 80 minutes, Neary got his goal as Walton made an outstanding close range save to tip a strike from Leon Bell onto the post but the ball ultimately fell into the path of Neary, who just had to put the ball into an empty net to make it six.
Just two minutes later, Shields added a seventh as Taylor sent in a deep cross from the left towards the goalkeeper, who was unable to control the ball as it bounced off him and over the line.
The visitors won a penalty which was converted by Kobe Bewicke, but it would ultimately prove to be a consolation goal for his side.
A 7-1 victory for the young Mariners put them through to the third qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup, in front of a brilliant crowd of 384.
The draw for the third round of the competition will be made on Friday, with Shields hoping to progress even further.
South Shields: Seymour, Bell, Taylor, Neary, Marriott (c), Farrington, Cresdee, Smith (Duffy 71), Thompson, Thew (Fletcher 56), McArthur (Porthouse 64). Subs not used: Armstrong, Hegarty, Errington, Rhodes.
Goals: Thew (5, 17, 45+1), Farrington (60), Thompson (75), Neary (80), Taylor (82).
Image: Kev Wilson.