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Match Report: South Shields 2-0 Stafford Rangers

Second half strikes from Martin Smith and Darius Osei steered South Shields to a deserved 2-0 victory over Stafford Rangers at 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.

Smith thumped in the opener just after the hour mark from distance before Osei stepped off the bench to mark his first appearance since returning from a loan spell at Ashton United with a goal as he fired into the roof of the net.

The win saw the Mariners climb to third in the Pitching In Northern Premier League table.

Kevin Phillips made one change to the team which defeated Belper Town 2-1 a week earlier, with Jordan Hunter introduced in place of the ill Conor Newton.

There was also an alteration to the formation, with Dylan Mottley-Henry leading the line with his pace and Lewis Alessandra switched to a wider role.

The early signs were extremely positive, with the hosts dominating possession as they probed for a breakthrough.

Michael Woods thought he had won a penalty in the 11th minute when he appeared to be taken from behind by goalkeeper Cameron Belford, but the offside flag halted the protestations.

Mottley-Henry went close to opening the scoring after a drop of the shoulder created a shooting opportunity and he thumped the ball narrowly over the crossbar.

Despite Shields’ general dominance, which included a tremendous ball across the face of goal by Hunter which Mackenzie Heaney was just unable to get on the end of, they almost fell behind just before half-time.

A loose backpass played Ethan Morgan in on goal but Myles Boney was quick off the line to make a smothered stop in what was the first of two vital interventions by the Mariners goalkeeper.

Belford made a terrific reaction save to keep out a deflected Mottley-Henry cross even later in the first half, but the sides went in goalless at the break.

Stafford began the second half in threatening fashion and would have taken the lead but for the brilliance of Boney, who clawed a point-blank Luis Morrison-Derbyshire header onto the bar.

That sparked the Mariners into their best spell of the game and they almost got their noses in front when Mottley-Henry created some space in the box and fired a low effort which Belford did superbly to tip wide.

Osei was brought on with 32 minutes left to play and almost had an immediate impact, heading a Heaney corner over from close range.

A moment of inspiration finally broke the deadlock when Smith saw an opportunity from 25 yards and took full advantage, driving it into the roof of the net with a brilliant strike which swerved in the air to deceive Belford.

Shields were now playing with great confidence and were relentless in their pursuit of a second goal, with a fine spell of pressure culminating in a powerful Tom Broadbent header which Belford pushed over.

Osei had been a menace to the visiting backline since being brought on and he got his reward with 10 minutes remaining when, after both he and Heaney had shots blocked, he brought the ball onto his left foot and rifled it into the top of the net.

That was the final goalmouth action as the Mariners took maximum points, and they will hope to follow the victory up in positive fashion on Tuesday when they host Bamber Bridge in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.

South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Liddle, Broadbent, Smith (Ross 90+1), Heaney, Briggs, Mottley-Henry (Gomes 84), Woods (Osei 58), Alessandra. Subs not used: Morse, Doherty.

Goals: Smith (62), Osei (80).

Attendance: 1,900.

Image: Kev Wilson.


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