TWO points dropped or a point gained was the question Robins’ followers were asking themselves after a pulsating second half of Monday’s 1-1 draw with Alnwick Town.
North Shields’ James Luccock had a strike questionably chalked off by a late assistant’s flag whilst on the other side of the equation Robins keeper Michael Robinson was man of the match by a mile.
It ended the same scoreline as on the opening day with Shields extending their impressive record of one defeat in 20 league matches.
Luccock replaced the suspended Paul Gordon as team boss Anthony Woodhouse made only one change to the 11 that took the field and saw Scott Blandford agonisingly only inches away from giving his side an early advantage.
A healthy bank holiday crowd of more than 200 witnessed a first period shorn of serious goalmouth action, though Andy Hay and Luccock were just off target for the Tynesiders while Luke Newton and Jon Colley forced fine saves from Robinson.
Alnwick looked increasingly threatening in second half breaks and, as the temperature hotted up on the pitch, only a goal-line clearance from Neil Baistow kept the Shieldsmen on level terms.
Then a brilliant double save from Robinson saved the day for the Robins but the keeper had no chance when Ben Keenan blasted Alnwick in front on the 68-minute mark.
Shields were stirred and Brian Brooks touched behind from Blandford, who then powered a header inches wide but it wasn’t until the 82nd minute that the hosts sensed a lifeline.
Brooks was dismissed after handling outside his area to keep out Luccock’s goalbound chip, the visitors taking an age before accepting they had to sacrifice an outfield player, then, four minutes on, replacement keeper Jamie Walton miscued a clearance and lively substitute Dean Holmes coolly advanced to slot in the equaliser.
The game ended in controversy with Walton fortunate to stay on the field after fouling Hay but honours were to remain even.
Shields assistant manager Andy Bowman declared: “It’s a point but we still need to be more clinical when we are on top.
“Robbo and Paul Dunn had great games and Baistow made some amazing last ditch tackles.
“Still, we remain on course, play better away and with most games in the second half of the season away we’re in good shape.”
North Shields: Robinson, Baistow, Patterson, McAlindon (Wright 59), Harmison, Dunn, Livermore (Watson 59), Blandford, Hay, Douglas (Holmes 65), Luccock. Subs not used: Grey, Bowlt.
Footage of the game can be found here here