A polished display sees Shields shine

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ANOTHER supremely polished performance from North Shields FC resulted in a four-goal haul and three more precious points.

Team boss Anthony Woodhouse enthused at his side’s display after the match.

“Chester are a decent outfit,” he said, “and they had a real go at us in the first half.

“We just had to be patient, however, and in the second period we overpowered them.

“We were still going strong in the final quarter and could have had even more goals, but I’m well satisfied.”

Shields are now unbeaten in 16 league games, winning 13 of those, and have taken maximum points from their last six having rattled in 23 goals against two conceded.

Ahead of difficult away fixtures at Hebburn Town and Gillford Park the Robins are eyeing up previous undefeated league stretches and have just overtaken a 15 match run in 2000-01 when Terry Paddison overlooked a side that finished Wearside League runners-up.

The ultra famous season of 1968-69 saw Frank Bennan’s Wembley wizards conjure up a 17-match Northern League sequence which saw them play the last 13 inside 26 days to clinch the championship.

Other memorable chains of results include runs of 20 unbeaten league fixtures, from the Northern Counties East title winners of 1991-92 and Barry Sill’s Wearside champions in 1998-99.

Standing alone in front at the moment is the 2003-04 Wearside League campaign when Wilf Keilty’s lads racked up 22 victories and one draw to return the club back to the Northern League.

At Chester Moor keeper Michael Robinson, the Robins only ever present, was ruled out through injury so 17-year-old Mathew Hunter deputised.

Otherwise it was the same ten outfield players that saw off the testing challenge of Team Northumbria four days earlier.

Hunter got an early touch, confidently punching clear but was then reliant on some magnificent defensive work from Femi Akinbolu as the Robins were caught cold.

Skipper Keith Douglas was thwarted by keeper Kyle Barlow’s legs in the Shieldsmen’s first threat then the Chester custodian superbly tipped behind Jon Hall’s diving header following a Mark Rasmussen flag kick.

Hunter did well not to spill a Nick Kane drive whilst the same player produced another effort that grazed the top of the crossbar.

The first of four top notch goals however went to the Tynesiders on the half hour mark when centre-half Steven Robinson was on hand to bury a Rasmussen corner and record his second goal for the club, his first in the Ernest Armstrong Cup victory at Sunderland RCA last season.

Rasmussen twice went close to increasing his side’s advantage with attempts inches wide of the upright but at the other end Hunter, under pressure from a back-pass, was relieved to see the ball rebound off Mark Davison and miss the target whilst the home centre-forward dragged another chance past the post.

Before the turnaround Robinson thought he had added to his tally but a tight offside decision curtailed the celebrations.

Shields roared into a three goal lead with two strikes inside the first four minutes of the second half.

Hunter held a Davison header before launching a punt downfield that deflected off a defender into the path of Douglas who made no mistake.

The third goal was pure quality, a contender for any goal of the season award, with Rasmussen initially involved, Andy Hay retrieving the ball before superbly crossing for Douglas to deliver a bullet header – number 25 for the season so far.

Shields now were cruising and turned on the style with Robinson, Hall and Rasmussen all desperately close to converting following three successive James Luccock corners.

Late substitute Andy Bowman put the icing on the cake with a neat shimmy and a smart curler into the top corner with Luccock within a whisker of completing the nap hand in stoppage time.

North Shields: Hunter, Hall, Patterson, Livermore (Elliott 68), Robinson, Akinbolu (Graham 75), Rasmussen, Watson, Hay (Bowman 80), Douglas, Luccock. Subs not used: Baistow, Fenton.

On Saturday North Shields are away to Carlisle outfit Gillford Park but, with that club unable to play matches on their own ground, the fixture will take place at the Cumberland Sport Academy in Whitehaven, kick-off 3pm.

The Robins won 4-1 on their sole visit to Gillford Park last season and defeated the Cumbrians 1-0 on Tyneside in October through a Keith Douglas strike.

On Tuesday, February 15, Woodhouse’s lads entertain Marske United in a crunch clash, 7.30pm kick-off.