Maybe not quite at their best, but North Shields still had more than enough in their ranks to smoothly see off neighbours West Allotment Celtic on Saturday.
The table toppers racked up another three points with a clean sheet and boss Jon McDonald was happy with victory over his former club.
The long unbeaten home record continues as McDonald rotated his squad with a number of changes to the side that defeated Whitley Bay in their previous game.
Jack Donnison and Adam Forster returned after injury, as did midfield maestro Michael McKeown, out since early season, whilst Sean McCafferty took over the gloves from Kyle Hayes.
Allotment included former Shieldsmen David Henderson and Chris Douglas in their ranks, while player manager Paul Stoneman hobbling off after only a few minutes on the clock.
McKeown was soon spraying the ball about stylishly and had already tested Chris Bannon in the visitors goal before the nine-minute mark when Dean Holmes set off on a rousing run from the halfway line before releasing Gareth Bainbridge who coolly rounded Bannon and the ex-Shields Wembley custodian was picking the ball out of the back of the net.
Holmes was then desperately unlucky with an effort that came back off the post as Allotment stuggled to stem the flow.
As the half unwound the Benton outfit managed a fair amount of possession without troubling McCafferty, with wide man, ex-Gateshead and Morpeth player Dale Pearson, posing most of the threats.
Some tough tackling from the visitors largely went unpunished, but they were made to pay right on the half-time whistle as Allotment skipper Ian Dunn fouled Bobby Taylor as he waltzed goalwards and up stepped man of the match McKeown to blast in the resultant free kick that sailed sweetly past the keeper with the aid of a slight deflection.
Bannon had earlier held a Holmes chip and Lee Mason volleyed inches wide, and it was more of the same as the second half developed.
Substitute Denver Morris,Taylor and Bainbridge all saw shots whistle past the post, and whilst Celtic moved the ball about freely, Shields’ two-goal cushion always looked adequate.
Right at the death came further reward for the Robins as a Holmes free kick was touched on and Forster supplied a delicious finish for the third.
Highlights of the game can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvVnP9ciM-A
Shields line up against three of their title challengers when they travel to Morpeth on Wednesday evening before facing South Shields on Saturday and then Shildon on Wednesday, November 9.
North Shields: McCafferty, Donnison, Summerly, McKeown (Coppen 74), Parker, Hughes, Taylor (Morris 77), Forster, Bainbridge, Mason (Car 63), Holmes. Subs not used: Wilson, Lancaster.