Updated: Sep 27, 2022
South Shields began pre-season with a win in the sunshine at Berwick Rangers on Saturday.
Will McGowan scored the only goal with a well-taken free-kick early in the second half on a day which saw the Mariners name two different XIs in the two halves.
It was a useful exercise for Kevin Phillips’ side as seven new signings made their first appearances for the club, and several of them caught the eye in their 45 minutes on the field.
It is those minutes in the tank which would have been the biggest positive for Phillips and his coaching staff as Shields returned from a near-three month break with a confident showing.
Dylan Mottley-Henry was among those given the nod to start the game and he was impressive in the first half. He tested home goalkeeper Calum Antell in the 11th minute with a fizzed shot from 20 yards.
Mackenzie Heaney had an effort blocked and Blair Adams curled narrowly wide as the Mariners continued their positive start, with Mottley-Henry going close again later in the half with a low strike which was blocked by Jamie Pyper.
There were opportunities for Ntumba Massanka and Robert Briggs before half-time but there was to be no breakthrough for Shields prior to their 11 changes at the interval.
McGowan was among those introduced to the action and he had a near-immediate impact. The midfielder was tripped just outside the D and picked himself up to curl a free-kick into the bottom corner nine minutes into the second half.
It was a deserved goal for the Mariners and there were chances for them to extend their lead, but another block denied Darius Osei, McGowan saw a strong penalty appeal turned down and Tom Broadbent headed into the side netting.
Berwick had two decent openings in a forlorn search for an equaliser, with Sean Stewart kept off the scoresheet by a fine Callum Dobson save on his first appearance for the Shields first-team and Liam Buchanan blazing over after a cut-back from the left of the box.
Dobson and the Mariners were not breached, though, as they registered a victory in their maiden pre-season outing.
They will hope to continue the positivity when they travel to Blyth Spartans on Tuesday.
First half line-up: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Liddle, Bodenham, Woods, Mottley-Henry, Jenkins, Massanka, Briggs, Heaney.
Second half line-up: Dobson, Lukeman, Doherty, Broadbent, Trialist, Smith, Osei, McGowan, Hodgson, Gomes, Main.
Goal: McGowan (54).