NORTH Shields Football Club embark upon a run of two tricky away league fixtures as they go looking to extend their superb 25-match unbeaten sequence on the road.
Trips to Morpeth Town and Washington line up with crucial points at stake.
The Robins are now having to play catch-up in the fixture list after their cross-Tyne clash with Hebburn Town on Saturday fell foul of the frosty conditions.
That was a frustrating call by the match referee for the Shields managerial due of Anthony Woodhouse and Andy Bowman who had just about a full squad of players raring to go against the South Tynesiders, who are seven points adrift of the Robins in the STL Northern League second division.
Now second-placed Shields have five games in hand on leaders Team Northumbria who hold a ten-point advantage at the head of the table.
Morpeth’s Craik Park on Saturday will see Woodhouse’s lads up against the league’s most improved outfit.
Morpeth finished bottom last term and leaked a staggering 21 goals to the Shieldsmen in four meetings.
Already in this campaign though, Town’s revamped team have defeated the Robins twice at the Daren Persson Stadium and can now consider themselves genuine promotion contenders.
Former Shields player of the year David Hiftle is the Morpeth skipper whilst Paul Dunn, who led the Robins out in their last outing at Easington, has also represented the yellow and blacks.
The Robins will also meet up again with midfielfer Phil Cartwright, who scored two goals in 38 sterling appearances for the Shieldsmen in recent seasons. Kick-off is 3pm.
Back in mid-April the Tynesiders rattled in nine strikes against Washington at the Nissan Sports complex to complete a 16-2 double but this time round a much sterner encounter is anticipated especially as the Mechanics enjoyed a 4-2 verdict at Ralph Gardner Park in the Robins second outing of this season.
North Shields’ record run on away soil began on October 16, 2010 with a 1-1 draw at Thornaby.
Seven players who turned out that day – Michael Robinson, Danny Patterson, Paul Watson, Andy Hay, Keith Douglas, Andy Wright and James Luccock – also took the field in game number 25, the 3-0 victory at Easington’s Welfare Park.
Of those matches, 16 were wins for the Robins, nine ending with points shared with the goals ratio 65 scores and 17 against.
Hot-shot Keith Douglas has notched 17 of those, Andy Hay 13 with Femi Akinbolu and Jon Hall both bagging five and James Luccock four.
Woodhouse is looking forward to the coming weeks declaring: “We are sitting nicely in the table with games in hand, a pleasing position considering our sticky start.
“I’m particularly happy with our goals against column, only 25 conceded in 24 starts with seven clean sheets, bearing in mind seven of those were conceded in the first three matches.
“We’ve been a little shy in front of goal, Dean Holmes is our current top scorer with ten, but the squad is settled and picking a starting 11 is a problem, but a nice one.
“We’ve been training well, confidence is high but we know we face some tough opposition in the coming weeks.”
Woodhouse chooses from: Robinson, Hughes, Patterson, Bowlt, Harmison, Dunn, Blandford, Watson, Luccock, Hay, Douglas, Wright, Holmes, McAlindon, Gordon, Baistow, Livermore, Grey and Rasmussen.