Robins record first win of the season

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CAN we play at Millfield every week must be the North Shields FC cry as they chalked up their first victory of the campaign.

A Keith Douglas header 12 minutes from time from a James Luccock centre secured three precious points for the Shieldsmen.

The Robins possess a grand recent record at the historic ground where the atmosphere is always feisty.

In season 2006/7 a brace from Stuart Heppell and another from Will Jarvis-Smith secured a 3-0 verdict.

The following year Roy Gordon, Aaron Robertson and David Henderson were all on target in a 3-2 success then Heppell and Mark Rasmussen were the marksmen in a 2-0 victory.

Even keeper Michael Robinson, with a dramatic late equaliser, found the net alongside Robbie Livermore in a 2-2 draw in 2009 whilst last season James Luccock (two) and Keith Douglas were the Robins’ heroes as they triumphed 3-2.

This latest midweek encounter saw starts for defender Stephen Salter, signed from Esh Winning, Ryan Arnot and Ryan Page whilst the aptly named Mathew Crook, signed from Blyth Spartans, donned the keeper’s gloves and went on to earn man of the match ratings.

The hosts applied early pressure and Ian Bickerstaff drove inches wide, Luccock in an attempt to clear struck his own post, Kevin Devine blasted against the crossbar and Dan Robinson screwed a glorious chance wide.

Shields certainly weren’t out of it in the first period but the closest they came was an Andy Hay curler that had keeper Marc Riches beaten but just cleared the upright.

The Robins were without their recognised midfield trio of Paul Watson, Mark Rasmussen and Robbie Livermore and it was Arnot who produced their first shot on target in the 56th minute that Riches spilled but saw the ball scrambled to safety.

Five minutes on and the Tynesiders began to threaten with a superb cross from the outstanding Danny Patterson nodded inches over by Douglas.

For the hosts substitute Alex Marshall drove across the face of goal then Mathew Crook tipped over a Richard Hodgson free kick.

Shields were celebrating as skipper Douglas put them ahead and Phil Cartwright must have thought he had added number two but his blistering effort was held by Riches.

Crook staged a fighting climax and just how the Robins survived a succession of stoppage time goalmouth melees only they will know.

The side’s battling qualities shone through, however, and with the Shields keeper breaking Crook hearts with a spectacular touch behind, it was a jubilant Robins squad that travelled home with a win that lifted them off the bottom of the table.

Boss Anthony Woodhouse declared afterwards: “Crook missed some great chances in the first half but I thought we battered them in the second.

“We dug in well, and credit to the lads, they got the winner.”

North Shields: Crook, Hall (Grey 57), Patterson, Arnot, Hughes, Salter, Page (Elliott 66), Cartwright, Hay (Deighton 76), Douglas, Luccock. Subs (not used): Atkinson, S Wright.