Douglas goal enough for Shieldsmen

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IN their previous league game the Robins had smacked in seven plus another four in a midweek cup tie.

This time only one effort found the net, but what a precious strike it was from Keith Douglas on the 63-minute mark to bring another three points for the Shieldsmen.

Graham Fenton’s lads have pocketed 22 of the last 27 points on offer as well as making progress in three knockout competitions.

Assistant manager Andy Bowman enthused after the latest impressive showing in North Yorkshire.

“It was a physical battle of the like we hadn’t won previously,” he said.

“This team though is playing with a great work ethic and, with the possession and chances we created, we fully deserved the victory.

“We’ve always got a goal in us and, with Keith Douglas in your team, who was excellent throughout, we certainly proved that.

“Let’s hope we can keep the run going.”

Taking the plaudits again were the central defensive pairing of James Harmison and Femi Akinbolu, the latter just edging the man of the match verdict.

The hosts had won their two previous league games and competed strongly but Shields were denied a first half advantage as Rob Nolan was thwarted by Graham Willey’s fine save then the Robins’ top marksman struck the post with the keeper well beaten, whilst Ben Richardson was just off target.

Substitute Adam Forster, sidelined through injury recently, didn’t take long to make his influence felt as his side upped the momentum in search of a breakthrough.

That came midway through the second period with Dean Holmes making great progress up the left flank and his cross jubilantly stroked home by the prowling Douglas.

Willey then touched aside from Nolan and blocked with his legs from Holmes, who had been released by Forster’s superb pass, but, with four minutes left on the clock, the Tynesiders found themselves reduced to ten men.

Two yellow cards saw the dismissal of Nolan, the Robins though, inspired by skipper Dan Patterson in his 99th game for the club, dug deep before celebrating on the final whistle, a fourth clean sheet in six league matches.

North Shields: McCafferty, Elliott, Patterson, McKeown (Rowntree 65), Harmison, Akinbolu, Hall (Forster 52), Richardson, Nolan, Douglas, Holmes. Subs (not used): Fenton, Bowman, M Robinson.

Only a penalty shoot-out had separated North Shields and Darlington RA when the two sides met in the last campaign, this season’s clash in the Northern League Cup was every bit as compelling with the Robins battling back from a two goal deficit to make progress.

Paul Freary and Sam Vernalls had the Railwaymen 2-0 up before Michael McKeown’s rasping drive on the stroke of half time offered the Tynesiders a lifeline.

New signing from Bedlington Terriers, midfielder Kieran Wrightson soon made an impression, a neat turn and cross posing problems for Darlington keeper Matt Calvert who could only flap at the ball with Douglas claiming the decisive touch.

A belt of a free kick on 75 minutes gave Douglas a brace with Nolan steering home a Patterson centre to complete a stirring turnaround.

On Saturday Whickham are the visitors to the Daren Persson Stadium (3pm) with Fenton’s men making another attempt to play at Tow Law’s Ironworks ground on Tuesday, November 27, (7.30pm).