Robins looking to end the year on a high

NORTH Shields Football Club play in their final game of 2011 when West Allotment Celtic travel to the Daren Person Stadium on Boxing Day for a midday kick-off.

Both sides are currently riding high in the table and the Benon-based outfit will include a number of ex-Robins in their ranks with Shields stalwart Wilf Keilty assistant manager.

Shields boss Anthony Woodhouse will add defender Danny Bowly and midfielder Paul Watson to his squad after injury but cannot call upon Kevin Hughes, who will be suspended against his former club.

2011 started for the Robins with a 1-1 draw at eventual champions Newton Aycliffe followed by home successes over Morpeth Town (4-1) and Horden CW (2-0).

An Andy Hay hat-trick at Darlington RA saw Shields go nap, Keith Douglas bagged three as Washington leaked seven but a single James Luccock strike proved sufficient against Team Northumbria.

The goals flowed at Chester-Le-Street (4-0) and at Hebburn (6-1) but then Woodhouse’s men were held in a goalless encounter at Birtley.

They got back on track with a 4-0 win over Seaham Red Star and a 3-1 victory at Brandon.

However, goals started to dry up on home soil, Whitehaven dented a long impressive unbeaten run and Guisborough also left Tyneside with three points thanks to a solitary strike.

The pressure started to tell and after 1-1 verdicts with Marske and Northalleton, a single Crook Town goal put another spoke in the Robins’ promotion push.

Spirits were raised again with a rousing 4-0 win on the west coast at Whitehaven, five goals were rattled in at Morpeth and three against Thornaby.

Keith Douglas then made it 40 for the season with a hat-trick in a 9-1 over Washington.

Shields were being challenged by Marske for the third spot and a 1-1 scoreline at Gillford Park left the outcome on a knife edge.

In their penultimate fixture the Robins froze against Hebburn but did have the limited satisfaction of hammering Marske 4-1 on the final day.

Danny Patterson was named player of the year and Woodhouse supplemented his squad with summer signings Kevin Hughes and Paul Gordon, both from West Allotment and Danny Bowly from New Hartley.

With promotion again remaining the priority, Sields stuttered in the early days of the new campaign and Woodhouse created discussion with his decision to release some crowd favourites.

In came Paul Dunn and James Harmison from Ashington, Dean Holmes (Heaton Stannington), Gareth McAlindon from Ryton and Crawcrook Albion) and Scott Blandford (Consett), all quality acquisitions and fortunes have been turned around.

The Robins remained unbeaten in 20 away league matches throughout 2011, this time around the goals have been distributed more evenly – Keith Douglas and Dean Holmes both on nine, Paul Gordon on seven and Hay on six.

Shields’ scheduled Ernest Armstrong Cup tie at Hebburn was postponed due to high winds then the clash with Crook fell to a frozen pitch.

On Monday, January 2, North Shields host Alnwick Town with a 1pm kick-off.