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Women go top with convincing win at 1st Cloud Arena

South Shields extended their winning start to the NERWFL Premier Division season after defeating Blyth Town 4-0 at 1st Cloud Arena on Wednesday.

A fantastic first half strike from Sophie White, followed by goals from Eve Gatens, Gabby Pedersen and an own goal, sealed the three points for the Mariners as they moved to the top of the table.

Shields are back in action on Sunday as they travel to Sunderland’s Academy of Light (SR6 7UW) to take on the Black Cats’ Under-23s in the first round of the Durham County Cup. Kick-off is at 1.30pm and admission is free, with stewards to be on hand to direct supporters to the appropriate pitch.

On Wednesday, the Mariners started on the front foot and had a plethora of chances early on. Gatens twisted inside the box, but Brooke Hayward did well to get down and make a save. Pedersen also came close as the winger tried her luck from distance, but her effort was well held.

As the pressure ramped up, White made the breakthrough in stunning fashion. The midfielder caught Hayward off her line and lobbed the ball into the net from distance, giving Shields a much-deserved lead.

The pressure continued, and Jade Dryden had a chance at goal. She tried her luck from distance on two separate occasions, but Hayward was there to match each effort. The Mariners limited the away side to very few chances, and this trend followed into the second half as Gatens found space for a shot, but it was always rising.

The all-elusive second goal finally came midway through the second 45, as Becki McMahon fired a low cross into the box and Emma Haley could do nothing other than turn the ball into her own net.

The onslaught continued as Abbie Robinson unleashed a venomous strike from distance which wasn’t far away from finding the top corner. Zahra Muzdalifah also had a chance to add a third on her debut for the lasses, but her header was planted straight into the arms of Hayward.

The Mariners grabbed the third with three minutes left on the clock. McMahon fizzed a cross into Gatens, who controlled brilliantly before firing home, sealing the three points.

Pedersen added a fourth with seconds left to play. The winger took an excellent touch just outside of the box and volleyed into the near post, giving Hayward no chance and capping off an excellent Shields performance.

After the game, head coach Ben Garrity said: “It’s a sign of a very good side when you don’t play well and still get a strong result like we did.

“The girls and I know that we weren’t at it on the night and we started poorly. Our quality on the ball wasn’t there, our intensity and tempo weren’t where they should have been and we just let our standards drop.

“There were some good phases of play throughout the game and some very good goals scored, but overall we know a performance like that isn’t good enough for the standards we’ve set.

“As I said before, to have an off day and still come away with a 4-0 win is a very good sign.

“This Sunday we have a massive game in the first round of the County Cup against Sunderland Under-23s, which will be a good test for us and one we are all looking forward to. We know we have to play much better than we did in our last game but I know the lasses will show a good reaction.

“I would finally like to give a massive thank you to every single person who came down to support the lasses on Wednesday. The support was massively appreciated and we hope to see them all at more games in the future.”

Image: Craig McNair / ID Event Photography.

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