NORTH Shields signed off their season in some style, romping to victory over a Marske side that pipped them for the third promotion spot.
The Robins produced a pulsating four-goal blast inside the first 35 minutes to blow away the North Yorkshire outfit.
With the pressure off, Shields were able to serve up more of the flowing football that their fans have lapped up for most of an entertaining campaign.
Femi Akinbolu and Andy Hay both helped themselves to a brace with Marske offering little in return.
The visitors had secured their elevation with two midweek successes though their first, at Northallerton, was controversial.
Northallerton did their best in the Robins cause despite playing the entire game with a full-back between the posts, eventually undone by having two seemingly legitimate goals disallowed then conceding a soft penalty award.
The definitive game, at Gillford Park was more conclusive, though a goal-less half-time scoreline offered Shields hope.
So Shields finished in a creditable fourth place, two positions higher than in the last campaign and boasted the meanest defensive record in the division, yielding just 36 goals.
Anthony Woodhouse and Andy Bowman have assembled a hugely talented squad that possesses a great team spirit who put together a record breaking 20-match unbeaten sequence to enthral their increasing number of supporters.
Shields’ dip in form in the final run in, however, saw them overtaken by a Marske side who kept on grinding out wins and, after finishing fifth and fourth in the last two seasons, who can deny them another opportunity to compete in the first division.
Striker Benn Thompson was a notable absentee from the Marske line-up whilst the Robins were again lacking 40-goal Keith Douglas and skipper Robbie Livermore.
Shields were fired up from the off and Akinbolu rifled inches over and Hay was close with a glancing header before they took an eighth minute lead.
Akinbolu coolly stroked the ball home then set up Hay to double the lead with only 19 minutes played.
Marske were stunned as Hay finished clinically then leaked goal number four as Paul Watson’s ball over the top found Akinbolu, who tucked away the chance after his first effort came back off the woodwork.
Keeper Jon McDonald saved at full stretch from James Luccock as the hosts threatened to go nap before ex-Shieldsman Danny Brunskill, who found the net 31 times for the Robins in 1999, rifled in a 43rd minute consolation.
Brunskill forced Robins custodian Michael Robinson into a smart save in the 62nd minute but Shields defended resolutely and rarely looked like losing their three-goal cushion.
Shields’ best effort of the half saw Jonathan Hall narrowly nod over a magical cross from Akinbolu whilst, in the closing seconds, Robinson spectacularly tipped over from Marske’s Danny Dixon.
North Shields: Robinson, Akinbolu, Hay (Atkinson 70), Patterson, Luccock, Page, Grey, Graham, Elliott, Rasmussen (Baistow 63), Watson (Hall 48). Subs not used: Douglas, Bowman.