Robins on target

A NINE-goal blast by the Robins in the heat of the promotion battle with ace marksman Keith Douglas notching another hat-trick to reach 40 goals for the campaign.

North Shields FC had hit nine once before this season, against Morpeth in the Ernest Armstrong Trophy, but their previous highest tally in the league was a 7-1 verdict over Washington at the Daren Persson Stadium.

On their last visit to the Nissan Sports Ground in 2004, Shields celebrated lifting the Wearside League Championship and promotion with a 9-0 trouncing of Washington Nissan UK.

In goal for the Robins that day was David Lanning, who won the Player’s Player of the Year Award and it was Lanning who was in the firing line this time as he donned the Washington gloves.

It took only three minutes for the Shieldsmen to strike through Femi Akinbolu, who pounced after Lanning couldn’t hold on to a Danny Patterson cross.

The home custodian was picking the ball out of the net again moments later as Douglas was lurking at the far post to nod in a James Luccock centre.

Perhaps taking their foot off the gas, Anthony Woodhouse’s men were rocked in the 17th minute, caught by a ball over the top, with Nicky Martin giving Craig Pickering no chance.

Ryan Page struck the upright as Shields almost immediately restored their two goal advantage but Washington sensed they could get back into the game as Danny Smart rifled just over the angle then forced Pickering to tip over.

Home spirits though were dampened before the interval when a Douglas header following a Luccock corner went in off the post to make it 3-1.

Shields came out hungry after their half-time team talk and within two minutes Akinbolu clipped the ball over Lanning, who then did well to block from Mark Rasmussen.

On the hour Luccock produced a stirring run down the left flank, Douglas was again on hand to nod home his third as the Robins went nap.

Intent on boosting their goal difference Shields continued to storm forward and, following a triple substitution with Andy Hay, Martin Graham and John Grey thrust into the fray, Lanning superbly touched over a Luccock scorcher.

It was 6-1 on the 70 minute mark with Hay unleashing an absolute belter, arguably the pick of the nine, then Page jubilantly slotted in his side’s seventh and his first goal for the club.

Shields added two more in the final two minutes with Hay converting a Grey cross then Page rounding off a flowing move with a cool finish.

North Shields: Pickering, Douglas (Hay 61), Akinbolu, Luccock, Livermore, Cartwright (Grey 61), Page, Patterson, Rasmussen, Elliott (Graham 61), Hall. Subs not used:Watson, Bowman.

North Shields, at Gillford Park tonight (Thursday) for a 7.45pm kick-off, host Hebburn Town in their penultimate league fixture on Saturday (3pm) with precious points at stake.