North Shields just 180 minutes away from Wembley FA Vase

North Shields backed by their fans in their away trip to Erith and Belvedere in the FA Vase quarter final.
North Shields backed by their fans in their away trip to Erith and Belvedere in the FA Vase quarter final.
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North Shields are just two games away from a trip to Wembley after their FA Vase journey showed no signs of derailing.

There were tears in the eyes for long-term Shields supporters who saw their side progress through to the two-legged semi final following a stirring 2-0 win over Erith & Belvedere in Kent.

Afterwards, manager Graham Fenton heaped praise on his team saying: “This group of players will never let the club down, their skill passion and camaraderie are second to none.

“I’m absolutely delighted. We got everything right, its simply fantastic that we’re up there challenging for the first division championship and now the Vase is a distraction.

“A trip to the capital in May would be the icing on the cake.”

It is 1969 since the Shieldsmen last visited the home of English football, and one of the victorious ‘Frank Brennan Braves’, supersub Tommy Orrick, has wished the current Robins well.

He said: “I wish the team all the luck in the world. I’m hoping Graham Fenton’s lads can take their place in the Shields record books.”

North Shields will face either Hellenic League Premier Division side Highworth or Northern Counties East leaders Tadcaster in the semi-final after the sides played out a draw in Swindon on Saturday.

They replay is in Yorkshire this weekend with Shields away to the victors on March 21 then at home in the second leg on March 28.

On Saturday it was the Robins’ eighth tie in the competition but the furthest south they had travelled since visiting Northallerton at the first stage.

Skipper Kevin Hughes passed a late fitness test and as Fenton pondered over selection from his 19 man squad he was able to field a strong team.

It was tense, nip and tuck early on with chances at a premium.

Erith produced the first shot on target with Robins keeper Michael Robinson having to tip behind an effort from Adam Marsh at full stretch.

Without testing home custodian George Kamurasi in the first period the Tynesiders still created openings with Michael McKeown, James Luccock and Dean Holmes all going close with fine efforts.

It was tense and tingling after an evenly contested first 45 minutes but the Robins sent their travelling fans into raptures four minutes after the turnaround.

Ben Richardson, outstanding in the middle of the park, slipped the ball through to Dean Holmes and the lively front runner made no mistake with a cool finish.

Loud appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears as Richardson went down in the box but the Shields No. 10 was the provider again just before the hour, setting up Adam Forster to advance and slide the ball past Kamurasi and the celebrations began.

There was still plenty of work still to be done however and a couple of heart-stopping moments but resolute defending with central pairing John Parker and Hughes giving nothing away and keeper Robinson confidently keeping out goalbound attempts from Marsh and Lee Hales.

In the closing minutes prolific marksman Gareth Bainbridge nearly made it 3-0 by forcing the keeper to tip over a delicious free kick but by then the Robins were already dreaming of what lies ahead.

North Shields: Robinson, Donnison, Lancaster, McKeown (Wrightson 88), Parker, Hughes, Luccock, Forster (Coppen 75), Bainbridge, Richardson, Holmes (Morris 69). Subs not used: Walker, Bannon.

The Robins are now ignoring their storming cup run as it is back to league action.

Following the midweek visit of Bishop Auckland (on Wednesday), North Shields head to Benton to take on West Allotment Celtic (3pm) on Saturday.

Then its to Billingham Synthonia on Wednesday, March 11, with Penrith the visitors on Saturday, March 14.

Due to the FA Vase success the away trip to Celtic Nation has been re-arranged for Tuesday, March 31, while they host neighbours Whitley Bay on Wednesday, April 8.