NORTH Shields FC are steadily climbing the table and are now up to ninth with games in hand following a fifth victory to extend their unbeaten league run to nine matches.
Dean Holmes, with a brace, and a first Shields goal for John Grey secured three valuable points as they beat Seahamn Red Star 3-1.
The Tynesiders showed their credentials by regaining the lead when down to ten men.
Shields bounced back quickly after their midweek exit from the Northumberland Senior Cup when they went down 2-1 at home to a Morpeth side, including ex-Robins David Hiftle and Phil Cartwright, for the second time this season.
Team boss Anthony Woodhouse used the county competition for some squad rotation with a number of regulars relegated to the bench or rested altogether.
Player of the month Paul Dunn led the side out and added to his goal tally by nodding in a James Luccock corner in the 16th minute to give the Robins a lead they looked relatively comfortable holding until a lapse on the hour saw Morpeth level from the spot through Steven Anderson then book their passage with another strike from Michael Hall.
Against Seaham, Michael Robinson returned in goal whilst defender Kevin Hughes, midfielders Mark Rasmussen and Paul Watson were all restored to the starting line-up.
Making his debut to provide more experience in the middle of the park was Gareth McAlindon, signed from Ryton and Crawcrook, but who has also appeared for Dunston, Carlisle United, Blyth, Gateshead and Newcastle Blue Star.
Shields unlocked the Seaham defence with a move of sheer quality with 11 minutes on the clock with Watson releasing Danny Patterson who waltzed to the by-line before slipping the ball inside to Holmes, who forced visiting custodian Ryan Graham to spectacularly touch behind.
Red Star, with former Shields-man Richard Goodman sporting the number six shirt, generally were content to restrict the hosts to an odd half-chance but roused themselves to threaten on 31 minutes when an effort by Mark Robinson clipped the crossbar.
Then centre-forward Kevin Gordon ran through unchallenged and forced Michael Robinson to tip behind.
Paul Gordon, making his first league start after one substitute appearance, made progress up to left flank before finding Holmes who blasted over.
Seconds later and just prior to the half-time whistle, the same combination saw Holmes unleash an absolute belter that thundered past a stunned keeper to see the Robins troop off with a timely advantage.
That proved to be Gordon’s last part of the action as he was replaced by Luccock on the turnaround, whose jinking runs began to torment the Seaham rearguard.
But Shields were unable to put some breathing space between themselves and their opponents.
Luccock cleverly beat the offside trap but his cross eluded all his team-mates, Graham punched aside a Rasmussen free kick, Holmes saw a shot desperately blocked then Watson nodded a Douglas corner wide at the far post.
Shields were made to pay on the 62-minute mark when out of the blue Kevin Gordon cut in to plant a peach of a strike just out of Robinson’s reach.
It looked bleak for the hosts when Watson disputed a decision from the assistant referee and was sent off to enrage the Robins dug-out.
But within three minutes they were ahead again with Holmes latching on to Dunn’s long ball to blast in his sixth goal of the campaign.
The Robins offset their numerical disadvantage by playing with spirit and rasping drives by Douglas and Dunn were only inches adrift of the mark.
Holmes was upended by Seaham substitute Michael Turnbull who was then promptly red-carded for stamping on the Shields front runner.
The Robins made the points safe in the closing minutes following great determination by Luccock, who set up Grey to whip in a shot that Graham tried to push over but instead the ball dipped under the bar, and the Shieldsmen were finally able to celebrate.
North Shields: Robinson, Hughes, Patterson, McAlindon, Dunn, Bowlt, Watson, Rasmussen (Grey 77), Holmes, Douglas (Hay 82), Gordon (Luccock 46). Subs not used: Harmison, Livermore. Man of the match: Dean Holmes.
North Shields travel to the Welfare Ground again on Saturday for a league encounter with Brandon.
On Wednesday, October 26, Ryton and Crawcrook are the visitors to the Daren Persson Stadium at Ralph Gardner Park (7.30pm).