North Shields enjoyed another good pre-season workout on Saturday and, thanks to Gareth Bainbridge’s late leveller, they remain unbeaten after five matches.
Twice coming from behind, the Shieldsmen thoroughly deserved their share of the spoils against first division Durham City, just as they had done at Newcastle Benfield three days earlier.
This time second half substitute Stewart Wright put them ahead and later rattled the crossbar, as did Kieran Wrightson, but Benfield bagged a 79th minute equaliser.
Shields had the misfortune to see new recruit Dean Walker carried off in that match and he now looks destined to miss the first few weeks of the campaign.
Also nursing a knock, central defender John Parker watched from the sidelines on Saturday whilst Adam Forster, Jack Donnison and Wrightson were all unavailable.
Keith Douglas limped off after only a couple of minutes and was replaced by Dan Smart, who struck instinctively to open his account for the Robins.
Kevin Hughes, who led the side out, and Joe Elliott coolly repelled any threat from Durham in the opening half hour but, after Michael Robinson was forced into a couple of agile saves, Denver Morris was on target for the Citizens on the 34 minute mark.
Smart quickly equalised and Adam Scope almost put the hosts ahead immediately on the turnaround with a delicious curler.
Former Esh Winning forward Ian Ward was posing his usual threat as Durham claimed plenty possession but unable to conjure up many openings against an astute home defence.
Ben Richardson was revelling in the middle of the park but the game was held up for a lengthy period due to a clash of heads with Durham’s Daniel Madden requiring hospital treatment.
On 76 minutes Morris set up Ricky Fenwick to tap in what looked like a winner for City, but Shields wouldn’t lie down and, with just three minutes left on the clock, John Grey stormed through the middle, Wright’s shot was only half stopped by the keeper and Bainbridge was lurking to notch his eighth goal so far.
North Shields: M Robinson, Hook, Grey, Richardson, Elliott, Hughes, Trialist, Trialist, Bainbridge, Douglas, Trialist. Subs: Smart, Akinbolu, Scope, Wright, P Robinson, Trialist, Trialist.
Assistant boss Andy Bowman said: “The Durham game was a really good test against a side who could be in the top six in division one.
“We looked solid as a unit and are able to take some huge positives.
“That’s our fifth game against higher ranked opposition and we can hold our heads high after all of them.
“We are learning loads about what our players can do and what system will suit us best when the season starts.”
In midweek Prudhoe Town head to the Daren Persson Stadium before the Robins travel to Hemsworth Miners Welfare of the Northern Counties East League on Saturday for their final friendly.
Hemsworth play at the MDC Sports Stadium, Wakefield Road, Fitzwilliam, Pontefract with kick-off scheduled for 2pm.
The draw for the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Trophy has been made and North Shields will entertain Esh Winning at the second round stage.