Robins missing good fortune as miserable run continues

CAN we have a lucky bounce or a fortuitous deflection, the Robins cry as their season turns from sweet to sour.

There’s still time to turn things back round, of course, but North Shields FC fans are sweating bucket-loads during the current goal and points drought.

Having galloped to 62 points from 26 games Shields are now limping into the final straits, having added just a paltry two to their tally in five attempts.

Despite the 1-0 reverse to Crook Town, the Robins did climb back into third place on goal difference as a result of Team Northumbria’s 5-0 defeat at Whitehaven.

Counter attractions were prevalent but the rallying call to the North Shields townsfolk only had a limited impact.

Football can be a cruel game and it was never more so than on Saturday as Shields battered their opponents only to be hit by the sucker punch.

Before the match team boss Anthony Woodhouse declared: “If we keep playing as badly we’ll finish fifth.” But following 90 gruelling minutes reflected: “I couldn’t fault the lads today, they gave their all. We just didn’t have the rub of the green.”

In view of their dip in form the Robins weren’t overly confident of completing a hat-trick of victories over Crook, having won a League Cup tie 5-2 then coming away with a 3-2 verdict from Millfield.

Femi Akinbolu was still an absentee but the Tynesiders were boosted by the return of the influential Paul Watson, a vital cog in midfield and a revelation in his second spell at the club.

Front runner Andy Hay side-lined by injury since the Robins’ last victory – at Brandon was – named on the substitute’s bench but could barely have expected to be thrust back into the fray so early at the eighth minute with Chris Laws hobbling off.

A goal bound Danny Patterson free kick was deviated agonisingly wide whilst James Luccock was unfortunate with a strike against the underside of the bar as the Robins strove for a first half advantage.

A Darren Kokes chip just over was all that Crook mustered before the turnaround and they never threatened again until centre-half Paul Moss powered in a header following an 88th minute corner.

For all their dominance Shields could not beat an inspired goalkeeping performance by Ian Myers.

North Shields: Robinson, Page, Patterson, Livermore, Atkinson, Elliott, Watson (Wright 69), Cartwright, Laws (Hay 8), Douglas (Hall 65), Luccock. Subs (not used) Rasmussen, Graham.

North Shields travel to Morpeth Town on Saturday, 3pm kick-off, for the first time in a Northern League fixture.

Then on Tuesday, April 12, they host Thornaby, 7.30pm.

The custodian held onto a Robbie Livermore lob that looked destined to be the opener, pushed a Ryan Page drive just out of reach of the inrushing Watson, then somehow tipped a Hay belter over the bar.

The outstanding Patterson kept surging forward, twice rifling across the face of goal, Ross Atkinson saw a header scrambled off the line then was just off target as he met a James Luccock corner.

In the end Shields were to be denied even a point and left deflated by Crook’s last-gasp effort.

North Shields: Robinson, Page, Patterson, Livermore, Atkinson, Elliott, Watson (Wright 69), Cartwright, Laws (Hay 8), Douglas (Hall 65), Luccock. Subs (not used) Rasmussen, Graham.

North Shields travel to Morpeth Town on Saturday, 3pm kick-off, for the first time in a Northern League fixture.

Then on Tuesday, April 12, they host Thornaby, 7.30pm kick-off.

They have visited Craik Park in 2006 for a Northumberland Senior Cup tie, current players Martin Graham and Andy Bowman turned out that day and lost 3-0, whilst in 2007 they were defeated 5-0 in a FA Vase tie.

The Robins have happier memories of two Northumberland Senior Bowl final successes on Morpeth’s ground. In 1999 Phil Linacre and Alan Oliver netted in a 2-0 win over Spittal Rovers then in 2001 David Little and Paul Ross were on the scoresheet as Amble Vikings went down 2-1 after extra time.

Shields have played Morpeth three times this campaign at the Daren Persson Stadium, winning 3-0, 9-0 and 4-1.

The Robins signed keeper Craig Pickering from Morpeth in early March with Michael Steinmetz and Callum Benson going in the opposite direction.