Joe Elliot challenges for an aerial ball. Picture by Ian Warde.

Joe Elliot challenges for an aerial ball. Picture by Ian Warde.
Joe Elliot challenges for an aerial ball. Picture by Ian Warde.
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North Shields are most certainly back on song as they finally shook off the Norton nightmare that has haunted them over the years.

Now sitting proudly top of the pile again after a superb second half fight back and goals from the prolific Dan Smart and Gareth Bainbridge, the Shieldsmen have bounced back in style.

The Seaham reverse dented Shields’ unbeaten league record but as assistant boss Andy Bowman commented: “It’s all about how you react in your next game.”

Well the reaction was impressive, starting with a 5-0 rout of Stokesley then lifting the Norton hoodoo.

Any Seaham sulks were soon dispelled thanks to Keith Douglas’ measured header then more clinical finishing from Bainbridge made it a two goal advantage over the North Yorkshire side at the break.

Stokesley’s attitude was commendable as they continued to try and play football but they were taken apart in the second period as the Robins’ silky skills once more came to the fore.

Ben Richardson opened his account for the campaign with a quite spectacular 66th minute turn and strike into the top corner, Bainbridge profited from a quickly taken free kick then debutant Michael Tait provided the icing on the cake.

Midfielder Tait, signed from Whitley Bay, and on as a substitute, magically chipped the keeper to complete the nap hand.

In chirpy mood, the Robins headed to Norton’s Station Road ground wary of that pointless tally against the Teessiders in ten league games and an Ernest Armstrong Cup tie exit between 2004 and 2009.

Prior to Saturday only Eddie Miller and Stuart Heppell had found the net for the Robins at Norton in league fixtures though Davy Little bagged a brace in the cup match.

This time Bainbridge had the ball in the net early on but was adjudged offside then home keeper David Knight saved well from the Robins hot shot.

Nicky Martin lobbed home from some distance in the 24th minute to put the Ancients ahead and could have doubled the advantage moments later, with the Robins in disarray, but failed to find the target.

Knight did well to thwart Bainbridge at the other end but the Robins had under performed in the first period.

Boss Graham Fenton, though, was delighted with how his side reacted after the turnaround.

Adam Scope and Dan Smart were quickly introduced and Knight was once more in the action, blocking from Bainbridge then holding on with Smart lurking after initially spilling an effort from John Grey.

Without having the rub of the green Shields were now much more positive and, after a neat one-two, Knight dived at the feet of Bainbridge.

Ben Richardson must have thought he had levelled but after seeing the overworked Knight keep out his first strike, then had the misfortune to see the follow up frantically cleared off the line.

The Shieldsmen levelled on the 62 minute mark thanks to persistence from Adam Forster, a Bainbridge drive was blocked but Smart managed to force the ball home.

The last quarter hour saw play swing from end to end, Michael Robinson making one particularly outstanding save from Anthony Verity then excelling again as Martin looked a certain scorer.

All three points were secured by the Tynesiders with just six minutes left on the clock, Scope’s cross buried with aplomb by Bainbridge and the Robins were celebrating though they had to survive a couple of anxious injury time moments.

North Shields: M Robinson, Elliott, Grey, Richardson, Parker, Hughes, Walker (Scope 46), Tait, Bainbridge, Douglas (Smart 52), Forster. Subs not used: Donnison, P Robinson, Courtney.

Two Law Town come to the Daren Persson Stadium on Saturday (3pm) then the Shieldsmen visit Brandon on Wednesday, October 16, kick off 7.30pm.