An emphatic finish

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NORTH Shields FC enjoyed a good workout at Wearside Leaguers Annfield Plain on Monday evening before recording an emphatic scoreline thanks to two late strikes.

Team boss Anthony Woodhouse is happy enough with the fitness levels of the squad but stressed the need for more consistency from his players.

Annfield Plain included at right back former North Shields legend Martin Lamb, third in the club’s all-time appearance table, only behind Wembley heroes Ron Tatum and Mick Morgan.

Michael Hammond donned the Shields gloves for whom Craig Deighton lined up alongside Paul Gordon up front.

Not taking part in the warm-up though were the injured James Luccock and Stephen Salter plus Andy Wright, Keith Douglas, Joe Elliott, Stewart Wright, Andy Hay and Ross Atkinson, all unavailable.

Robbie Livermore duly despatched a 16th minute penalty, awarded after Deighton was upended, then Gordon, after seeing an effort seemingly kept out by a hand on the line, did net to make it 2-0 after 22 minutes, following a flowing build-up from Ryan Arnot and Deighton.

The hosts certainly weren’t out of it and were denied by the woodwork twice in the first period whilst Danny Patterson cleared an effort off the line for the Robins, with Phil Cartwright revelling in the middle of the park, Dan Bowlt nodded just over, Gordon found the side netting then Livermore, forced wide by the keeper was marginally off target.

Six second half changes saw John Grey, John Hall, Andy Bowman, Paul Watson, Liam Harris and Neil Baistow introduced with the Robins rhythm suffering for a spell.

And an unmarked Stephen Kemp headed in from a corner to reduce the deficit on the 58-minute mark.

Shields finished strongly however and, after Mark Rasmussen brought out a fine save from the home keeper, he knocked in a quickly taken free kick for number three.

Then in the closing seconds Jon Hall supplied the icing on the cake with a sublime chip.

At home to the Scottish Borderers from Gala Fairydean, honours ended even in a hard fought encounter.

The visitors travelled with a strong squad but without a keeper so two local custodians were sought and, just before the close of a dour first period, Rob Hewitson nipped in to poke home the opener.

Shields upped the tempo on the resumption and, after Andy Bowman had an effort dubiously chalked off by an offside flag, he did restore parity on 56 minutes when he rose to meet a Liam Harris cross and deliver a bullet header into the net.

Keith Douglas was foiled by the keeper in a one-on-one, Bowman rifled over before a John Grey free-kick thundered against the crossbar and to safety as the Tynesiders had to settle for a draw.

Two days after defeating Whitley Bay, the Shieldsmen travelled to the Brewery Field to take on Northern League champions Spennymoor Town.

Woodhouse’s lads looked a little jaded in the opening half, barely mustering a shot on target and trailed to goals from home skipper Dan Moore and Calvin Smith.

The Moors were rocked when Shields brought on their more experienced campaigners as they kicked down the slope, and two long range belters inside as many minutes from Paul Watson and Keith Douglas made it 2-2 and game on.

The Robins deserved something for their second half efforts but strikes from Stephen Capper and Sam Garve inside the final 12 minutes brought a home win.

Facing Blyth Spartans midweek, Shields take on Blyth Town in their final pre-season outing on Saturday, kick off 3pm at the Daren Persson Stadium at Ralph Gardner Park.

The draw for the Ernest Armstrong Trophy has been made and North Shields find themselves with a bye in the first round.

The Robins will visit the winners of the Easington Colliery versus Hebburn Town tie at the second round stage.