Buoyant, after claiming the scalp of first division front-runners Shildon in the Northern League Cup, North Shields completed a double cup success by knocking out their West Yorkshire hosts in the FA Vase after 120 gruelling minutes.
Whereas the all Northern League encounter with Shildon proved a great advert for the league with football the real winner, this was a feisty affair against a North West Premier Division outfit who received a multitude of cautions, saw their substitute red-carded and had their manager banished to the stands and all by a lenient referee.
Kieran Wrightson’s stunning 66th minute strike earned Graham Fenton’s lads a trip to Alnwick in the next round of the Northern League competition.
The Robins rotated their squad for the FA Vase tie and fielded arguably their strongest starting line-up in Yorkshire, though Tom Courtney continued to deputise between the posts for Michael Robinson.
Shields looked to have booked their passage thanks to Gareth Bainbridge’s 17th minute goal, but just as at Liversedge last season, the Tykes levelled in the dying stages to force extra time.
This year though the Shieldsmen are made of stern resolve and they stepped up a gear to outclass Silsden in the first period of additional time to build up a 3-1 advantage with two goals in as many minutes.
It is fair to say that the Robins’ record in the FA Vase over the years has been less than spectacular – indeed prior to Saturday Hebburn (twice) are the only club they have ever beaten – but Shields now ooze quality and determination and they are fired up to make further progress.
The Tynesiders bossed the opening stages at the Keighley Road ground, playing their usual patient football, but the Yorkshiremen threatened through tall forward Michael Hall, who saw a header cleared off the line by Joe Elliott.
Following good work from John Grey and Dan Smart, Bainbridge found the net and the Robins settled, though it was obvious the hosts were intent to try and disrupt the flowing football by any means possible.
Home keeper Edward Hall saved well from Smart and Kevin Hughes but was relieved his defender Jack Houlker was on hand to head a Bainbridge effort off the line just before the interval.
Silsden showed spirit after the break but Courtney proved competent with anything that came his way.
Ten minutes from the whistle Bainbridge was unlucky not to add to his tally, striking the upright, and on 88 minutes Andy Hill unleashed an unstoppable drive following a free kick for the leveller to take the wind out of the visitors sails.
Rather than being deflated, Shields took the game once more to their hosts and Bainbridge’s cool finish put them ahead, then great play from Adam Forster set up Dean Walker and it was 3-1.
It was not quite all over, Silsden’s Joshua McNulty was sent off not long after coming on and though Christian Hargreaves pulled a goal back Bainbridge raced through in the last minute to complete his hat-trick, his 15th goal of the campaign, and seal a memorable win.
North Shields: Courtney, Elliott, Grey, Richardson, Parker, Hughes, Scope (Walker 57), Forster, Bainbridge, Smart (Douglas 85), Wrightson (Carr 71). Subs (not used) Donnison, Mbiavanga.
Next up for the Robins are Seaham Red Star on Saturday, kick-off at the Daren Persson Stadium is 3pm.
Stokesley then head north on Wednesday, October 2 (7.30pm).