WHAT an acqusition former Ashington defender Paul Dunn is proving for North Shields FC as he notched goal number two in just three outings to earn man of the match ratings against Whickham on Saturday.
Dunn has become part of a Robins team that has picked up 11 points from the last 15 on offer to climb into the upper reaches of the table, with games in hand.
Dunn’s 25-yard free kick that screamed into the net gave the hosts an advanctage they held for only four minutes and though both sides had chances to take total points, nobody could really argue that 1-1 was probably well deserved.
This was end-to-end football at its best, John Grey’s blistering 30-yearder that ratlled the crossbar would have been a worthy second half winner, but that would been harsh on the visitors, who included former Robins Dominic Elliott at number ten and Callum Benson on the bench.
For Shields, Dean Holmes made his first start after two goals in three substitute appearances whilst Kevin Hughes made a quick recovery from the iunjury that curtailed his time on the pitch against Esh Winning to resume in the right back position.
Following 90 absorbing minutes, Robins team boss Anthony Woodhouse thought his side deserved all three points this time as they did in last season’s corresponding fixture when Joe Elliott was the match winner.
Paul Watson was in awesome form in the middle of the park early on, progressing to the by-line before unleashing a peach of a centre that only just eluded Holmes.
Whickham threatened themselves with Shields custodian Michael Robinson blocking from Steven Alston twice as the visitors gave early indications of their intentions.
Ex-Blyth Spartans and Bedlington defender Michael Hedley was holding the Whickham back line together and crucially got a touch to knock the ball behind after Holmes had rounded keeper Gareth Powell.
Ryan Page then saw a goalbound effort deflected wide following some great work from Mark Rasmusson, then from the resultant corner taken by Keith Douglas, Dunn’s header was desperately flicked off the line by defender Craig Rook.
Douglas then saw an effort scrambled clear after a neat turn, Holmes drove inches over the angle before Dunn converted on the 39-minute mark.
Before the interval, though, and despite some frantic defending, the ball fell kindly for Scott Robson to produced a cool finish to level.
Shields suffered a blow barely two minutes into the second period when James Harmison was forced to hobble off with a groin injury, but the action continued to be frenetic.
Following another surging run from the outstanding Danny Patterson, Page tested Powell, then Adam Wilkinson was releved to put the ball behind.
Robinson’s long clearances were posing all sorts of problems for the visitors with Holmes screwing one effort past the upright and Page frocing a fine save from Powell.
Holmes was unlucky not to tuck away a James Luccock pass then was thwarted by Powell, whilst Whickham also sesnsed a late clincher with an Alston shot deflected just over, Robinson bravely saving from Robson and Paul Cavanagh rifling wide when well placed.
North Shields: Robinson, Hughes, Patterson, Dunn, Harmison (Grey 47), Bowly (Salter 71), Ramusson (Luccock 43), Watson, Page, Douglas, Holmes. Subs not used: Elliott, Bowman.