HALF-WAY through their league campaign the Robins sit in seventh position vying for one of the three promotion spots with another eight realistic hopefuls.
Shields boast the best defensive record in the division, having yielded a mere 21 goals in as many outings with the bulk of their strikes attributed to Rob Nolan (15 league, plus four cup, including two hat-tricks), Keith Douglas (seven league, eight cup) and Dean Holmes (six league, three cup).
Graham Fenton’s lad have only managed to get on the pitch four times since mid-November – a 1-1 draw at Whitehaven followed by victories by 3-1 at Ryton and Crawcrook and 6-0 at Thornaby with the last outing being a vigorous 2-2 verdict with Ryhope CW.
Next up, though already in doubt, is a Friday night meet with Tow Law Town at the Daren Persson Stadium then it’s off to the Nissan Complex on Wednesday, January 30 to face Washington in the Ernest Armstrong Trophy (7.30pm).
Following a trip to Northallerton on Saturday, February 2 Shields will then attempt to host five successive matches.
On Wednesday, February 6 Jarrow Roofing are the visitors, Brandon (Saturday, February 9), West Allotment Celtic (Wednesday, February 13), Esh Winning (Saturday, February 16) and a Northern League Cup tie against Bishop Auckland on Wednesday, February 20.
The clash with Bishops will be the first time the clubs have met since the 1987-88 season, with Auckland leaving the Northern League in the next campaign.
The Robins completed a league double then, securing a 2-1 home win thanks to Don Peattie and Keith Mills and a 3-2 success at Kingsway with Peattie again on the scoresheet plus a brace from Paul Pitman.
North Shields have been handed a home tie against Ashington in the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.
They did come up against each other in the county competition back in 1983-84 when, under Jim Pearson’s leadership, the Robins triumphed 4-0 with Paul Ross (two), Micky Carroll and David Varty on target.
Since then the Colliers have emerged victors by 1-0 in a FA Cup tie, at Shields, in 2004 and by 2-0 at Woodhorn Lane in the FA Vase in 2008, a match incidentally that saw Robins current top marksman Rob Nolan appear as a Shields substitute, in his first spell with the club.