In a game of two halves, striker Cai Pritchard’s hat-trick inspired a second-half surge as South Shields IA beat Brooke House Coventry City.
A cold, wet and windy day in Sunderland was matched by an uninspired first half of football. Both teams lacked the killer edge needed to take the lead.
One minute into the second half, Daniel Rovira broke the deadlock for the Mariners.
Striker Cai Prichard put the game out of reach for Coventry with goals in the 60th, 84th, and 87th minute.
The League Cup has a group stage in which the top two teams will advance to the knockout rounds. South Shields will play Macclesfield FC, Mansfield Town, and Wealdstone FC in the rest of their group games.
Chances in the first-half were few and far between. South Shields dominated the ball, but lacked their usual high tempo that has caused teams trouble.
As the second-half began, it was clear that South Shields had raised their game.
Daniel Rovira led the attack, pressing the right centre back into a failed clearance. This costly mistake saw the ball land at the feet of Rovira who slotted the ball past the keeper.
South Shields looked to be back to their best. Rovira was involved again as a surging run saw him penetrate the Coventry Defence. Unselfishly, he pulled the ball back to Prichard for his first of the night.
Déjà vu as Rovira assists Prichard for the second time in the game. Again, a great run by Rovira sees him pick the ball up on the right-hand side. Spotting the late run of Prichard, he lays the ball back for him to tap in.
A great team move saw Prichard cap off his hat-trick in style. In an impressive show of ball control, Rovira and Vasco Bautista travelled 30 yards of the pitch without the ball touching the ground. On the swivel, Bautista played a perfectly weighted pass to Prichard. He rolled the ball into the bottom right corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.