Patched-up Robins into quarter-finals

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WHAT a response from the Shields lads, a patched-up team including boss Anthony Woodhouse at centre-half secured a place in the last eight of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Trophy with a battling display.

The Robins had been disappointed that their fabulous unbeaten away record of 25 games had ended at Washington, but four days later it was all smiles again.

Woodhouse dusted his boots off, he had not turned out since the 7-1 win over Washington more than 12 months earlier, but he inspired his men who kept going, kept working and kept creating chances to win 3-2 at Hebburn Town.

The starting Shields line-up lacked regulars, Paul Dunn, Kevin Hughes, Scott Blandford and James Luccock, they then lost James Harmison and Danny Patterson, who both limped off before the interval.

The match was memorable though as Paul Watson, man of the match, bagged a brace, his first goals of the campaign, whilst the winner came from Keith Douglas, a juicy finish for his 50th club goal.

Hebburn keeper Martin Hunter produced a fine save to keep out a Douglas free kick before the Shieldsmen took a 26th minute lead.

An Andy Wright cross saw Hunter parry from Dean Holmes but Watson was following up to jubilantly squeeze the ball home.

Gareth McAlindon was only inches away with a deliciously curling free kick, before the Robins had to reshuffle with Mark Rasmussen and Neil Baistow employing admirably unfamiliar right and left back roles respectively.

Before the break the hosts levelled through Dean Walker following a fine run by Callum Charlton.

Seconds later Rasmussen almost caught Hunter out with a long range effort.

But, only two minutes after the restart, Shields did restore their advantage when a superb left wing centre from Wright was converted by the hard-working Watson.

Holmes was tormenting the Hebburn defence, but after Michael Robinson kept out a Liam McBryde header, he was beaten after 73 minutes as Stephen Forster tucked the ball home at the far post.

Extra time was looming when Douglas won it late on, turning magically to rifle home and book his side a tie with Northallerton Town at the Daren Persson Stadium in the next round.

North Shields: Robinson, Bowlt, Patterson (Baistow 35 mins), McAlindon, Woodhouse, Harmison (Livermore 41 mins), Rasmussen, Watson, Holmes, Douglas, Wright (Hay 76 mins). Subs not used: Bowman, Gordon.

Meawnhile North Shields have strengthened their squad with the signing of Adam Rowntree from Newcastle Benfield.

The striker has appeared twice against the Robins in this campaign whilst representing Ryton, scoring two goals in the process.

He netted Ryton’s consolation in their 5-1 defeat at Ralph Gardner Park then his side’s second in their 5-2 loss at Kingsley Park.

Skipper Douglas was celebrating his 50th strike for Shields at Hebburn after seeing a goal controversially chalked off at Washington.

The record of Douglas last season was almost in the Don Winskill class – 40 goals in 40 appearances including six hat-tricks – at Newcastle Benfield, Seaham Red Star and Washington and at home to Morpeth, Washington and Seaham.

Douglas has not been quite as prolific this time round but his winner in the Ernest Armstrong Cup was an absolute beauty and certainly one to savour as he hit the milestone.

Fellow forward Andy Hay has been named the Queen Alexandra College sponsored player of the month for January.

The award saw team boss Woodhouse say of Hay: “Andy is great at holding the ball up, which gives us the chance to break forward.

“He’s a great lad to have around the club, he’ll always fight for the cause and has vast experience in the Northern League.

“He deserves a pat on the back for his efforts.”

Hay has eight goals to his name already this season and rates his proudest moment in football as scoring seven times in a 9-1 victory over Harton and Westoe, a North Shields club record.

The Robins travel to fellow promotion contenders Esh Winning on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off.

On Tyneside back in September, Shields ran out 3-0 victors with Douglas, Holmes and Ryan Page on target.

On their last visit to the Waterhouses Ground in 2008 the Robins lost 6-2 just before Woodhouse was appointed with Dean Nicholson, now at Hebburn, grabbing both Shields goals.

Then it is a return to Hebburn in midweek with league points at stake on Wednesday, February 15, at 7.30pm.