Pressure football

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A WEEK in football is a long time, and never was a sentence more relevant to the Robins.

As North Shields FC team boss Anthony Woodhouse declared: “After being mugged by Crook we were all feeling down, but now we’ve secured three priceless victories, rattling in 12 goals without reply.

“It’s all pressure football at the moment, the important thing was that we didn’t slip up against a useful Thornaby side.

“I felt we were largely in control throughout and didn’t look like conceding as we produced a solid and very pleasing performance.

“Somewhere in between all these games, however, we parted company with Graham Fenton.

“Former Blackburn striker Fenton has recently taken up a new job and found the time involved in juggling his two roles and his commitment to his young family too much.

“Something had to give and unfortunately we were the losers, but the club is the better for having Graham about the place.

“It’s obviously not the ideal time for him to leave but player-coach Anthony Bowman and some of the more experienced lads will assist me during the run-in.”

Three points was all the Shieldsmen could have hoped for from this fixture as they try to shake off the chasing duo in this tight promotion battle.

The Robins’ remaining four matches – Washington and Gillford Park away and Hebburn and Marske at home – should all provide compelling viewing and there is every chance that the outcome could yet be decided on the very last day of the season when Marske travel to North Tyneside.

Against Thornaby, Shields would have loved an early goal to relieve the tension but they had to wait 24 minutes before going in front.

What a superior goal it was though, with skipper Robbie Livermore and Mark Rasmussen linking well down the right flank and the latters cross was delightfully tucked away by Keith Douglas.

Thornaby centre forward Chris Wrathall screwed an effort just past the post whilst at the other end James Luccock was thwarted by the woodwork.

The Shieldsmen were breathing a lot easier when Luccock cut in from the left on 65 minutes to deliver a crisp finish into the corner of the net – his first goal since he bagged the winner in the crunch win over Team Northumbria back in early February.

Livermore had earlier been unlucky, clipping the crossbar, but that second strike was a real tonic for the hosts, who added a third six minutes from the whistle when substitute Andy Hay was hauled down, picking himself up to bury the spot kick.

So Shields kept their 13th clean sheet and boast the meanest defence in the division, having yielded just 29 goals in 34 outings.

North Shields: Robinson, Douglas (Hay 66), Akinbolu, Luccock, Watson (Cartwright 70), Rasmussen, Livermore (Graham 79), Page, Hall, Elliot, Patterson. Subs not used: Bowman, Pickering.