NORTH Shields FC comfortably saw off the challenge of bottom club Morpeth but only in the closing minutes did they boost their goal difference which could yet be so crucial.
Shields netted three times in the last seven minutes as every match now takes on the importance of a cup final for Anthony Woodhouse’s men.
Danny Patterson replaced the injured Ross Atkinson in the only change to the starting 11 that romped to a four-goal win at Whitehaven midweek.
Former Morpeth keeper Craig Pickering again donned the Robins number one shirt and only endured one testing moment all afternoon.
His opposite custodian Mark Keenan, however, was in action right from the first minute, holding onto a Keith Douglas effort then blocking with his legs from the Shields top scorer and touching aside a Mark Rasmussen effort.
A Rasmussen free kick then eluded everyone to bounce against the post and to safety before the Tynesiders struck twice inside four minutes midway through the half.
Phil Cartwright set up Femi Akinbolu, who was denied by the upright but the ball ballooned up to rebound into the net off the unfortunate Morpeth defender James Clark.
Patterson then released James Luccock, whose cross was drilled home by Akinbolu.
The introduction of substitute Andy Hay produced the desired effect as Shields finished with a flourish and a three-goal blast.
Debutant John Grey’s peach of a ball was coolly despatched by Akinbolu, Douglas scrambled in the fourth after Hay rounded the keeper then it was number 36 for Douglas from the penalty spot.
North Shields: Pickering, Douglas, Akinbolu, Luccock (Grey 74), Rasmussen, Livermore (Hay 67), Cartwright (Watson 56), Page, Patterson, Hall, Elliott. Subs not used:Graham, Bowman.
North Shields are at Washington, who now play at the Nissan Sports complex, on Saturday, 3pm kick-off, then travel west to Carlisle to take on Gillford Park on April 21.
North Shields Football Club are hosting their annual Sportsmans Dinner at the Village Hotel on Thursday, April 28.
Join the players and some of the Wembley winners of 1969 with guest speaker, sports journalist John Gibson and North Shields FC club president Malcolm MacDonald.
Tickets, costing £25 can be obtained from any club official.