South Shields Women were on cloud nine at 1st Cloud Arena on Sunday as they demolished Hartlepool United 9-0. It was an afternoon to remember for the Mariners, who entertained a home crowd for the first time this league season, and the team’s unbeaten start to the campaign continued in style. A slow start ensured no complacency on Shields’ part, and two goals in quick succession by Eve Gatens gave the lasses a well-deserved lead at the break. The heat was turned up significantly after the interval, owing to strikes from Annece Legg and Jen Wootten, as well as further efforts by talisman Gatens, who grabbed four goals in all. While it’s fair to say the scoreline stole the show, it’s arguable that two direct free-kicks scored by Jaz Elliott-Wood, and later Meg Archbold, had their own claim to fame; they were sensational rockets, and the home crowd must surely have gone home overjoyed. There were two changes to the line-up which secured a 2-2 draw away against Wallsend BC last week, as Monica Innes and Archbold started in place of Erin Taylor and Wootten. Before the match it was noted that the visitors had the worst defensive record in the league - although it is still early days in the season - compared to Shields having the best, and that record stayed intact. Shields were handed a penalty around the 40th minute mark after an imposing albeit subdued display up to that point, after Gatens was brought down in the box. She made no mistake, as ever, and the dynamic of the game changed from that point on. It felt like Shields had the upper hand and they would not relinquish control from that moment. One goal quickly became two thanks to a beautiful through ball from Zoe Norton which met Gatens, who worked her way around Lauren Ranson before she tapped it in - notwithstanding a hint of pressure as their number 12 slid in at the last moment. The Mariners picked up the pace after half-time and the goals kept coming: Norton was through on goal amid a scramble, which saw the ball guided to an onlooking Legg, who slammed it into an empty net. Oncoming substitute Wootten hurriedly gave herself two well-worked goals before two astonishing direct free-kicks by Elliott-Wood and Archbold blindsided Ranson in the Hartlepool net. Gatens found herself late on with another penalty, before adding yet another goal to her tally when it felt like every strike turned to gold. Up next for the lasses is a home tie, once more at 1st Cloud Arena, against Alnwick Town in the Women’s FA Cup. Further details will be communicated closer to matchday. South Shields Women (numerical order): Gowans, Innes (Taylor), May, Archbold, Greener (Wootten), Legg (Emery), Gatens, McMahon, Norton (White), Elliott-Wood, Foster (Ali). Hartlepool United Women: Ranson, Johnson, Pye, Basnett, Borthwick, Portas, Smith, Gray, Dixon, Foster, Bilcliff. Substitutes: Keogh, Geary, Bage, Thornton, Robinson.
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