Robins finish eighth for second season running

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North Shields Football Club who will hand out their player awards in an ‘on the road’ special on FA Cup final night have ended the campaign in eighth position in the Ebac Northern League second division table for a second successive season.

Their record in 2011-12 under the guidance of Anthony Woodhouse was to accumulate 68 points from a 42 match season with 19 wins and 11 draws and a goal ratio of 77 netted and 51 let in.

This time round, with Graham Fenton and Andy Bowman at the helm, it all looks remarkably similar.

Finishing with 70 points, the Robins have triumphed 21 times, sharing the spoils on seven other occasions and scoring 72 times, conceding 54.

The Shieldsmen enjoyed an 11 game unbeaten sequence between October 20 and January 12 which propelled them up the table and, after a 2-0 verdict over champions Crook Town in early March, they were riding high in fourth position.

Late season injuries and exhaustion extinguished any promotion hopes but the Robins can certainly reflect upon some magical moments.

The most convincing league victories were the 7-2 rout of Seaham Red Star and a 6-0 verdict at Thornaby for a second consecutive campaign.

In cup encounters Fenton’s lads also rattled in six and five respectively at West Allotment Celtic and Alnwick Town in a stirring run to the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.

Two wins by a 4-2 margin saw the Robins march on in the Northern League Cup with Morpeth Town and Darlington RA falling by the wayside.

Early exits, though, occurred in the FA Cup (to Birtley after a replay), at Yorkshire outfit Liversedge, cruelly forced into extra time by a last-gasp goal in the FA Vase, whilst Shields rested a number nursing knocks in the Ernest Armstrong Trophy tie against Washington.

Shields lost 5-1 at both Northallerton Town and Tow Law Town in away league fixtures.

With an entire team on the treatment table at one stage the Robins were particularly unfortunate to see Scott Blandford carried off in his first match upon his return to the club, proven striker Andy Hay make only four starts with one goal and midfield play maker Michael McKeown also forced to watch from the terraces.

Robbie Nolan netted 30 times, including three hat-tricks but didn’t score in the side’s last 13 games whilst Keith Douglas bagged 17, notching four at Alnwick, Dean Holmes 14 and centre back James Harmison five.

Top appearance makers were Joe Elliott, skipper Dan Patterson, Adam Forster and Ben Richardson who all started more than 40 times.

James Harmison, Keith Douglas, Femi Akinbolu, Ben Richardson and Joe Elliott all captained the side in Patterson’s absence.

Shields’ final match saw Chester-le-Street record an identical scoreline, 2-0, to that which the Robins achieved at Chester Moor three days earlier.

It’s been a significant campaign for North Shields exactly 30 years on from their FA Cup accomplishment at Halifax when Bede McCaffrey scored the all important goal.

Supporters are most welcome to the presentation evening, at Chirton Club, on Saturday evening.