Six more for league leaders North Shields

Gareth Bainbridge heads home for North Shields. Picture by Ian Warde.

Gareth Bainbridge heads home for North Shields. Picture by Ian Warde.

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A pre-Christmas treat for North Shields fans saw their table topping side crack in another six goals.

It’s now 86 strikes in just 24 league games for Graham Fenton’s lads, Gareth Bainbridge rifling a hat-trick to take his tally to 30 as the Shieldsmen extended their lead at the top to nine points with a 6-1 win over Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.

Dan Smart, his fellow predator, with 19 goals to his name, was an absentee for this encounter but a brace from Dean Holmes saw him jump to seven league goals.

It was not looking quite so rosy for the Robins when the lowly but plucky visitors took a shock 22nd minute lead against the run of play through centre forward Scott Dunn.

Earlier Shields had gone close through a Brian Smith header and an effort from Dean Walker that Ryton keeper Dean Worthington deflected onto the post.

The hosts were back on level terms on the half hour when Holmes was the provider for Bainbridge to head in.

Six minutes before the interval Ben Richardson and Phil Robinson combined allowing Walker to slide in the cross.

On the resumption it was one-way traffic, the visitors desperately trying to stem the tide.

It was 3-1 when Robinson advanced to the bye line and Holmes tapped in the centre, Bainbridge cleverly chipped the keeper then Holmes thumped in number five.

With 20 minutes remaining Bainbridge completed his hat-trick and could have had even more, thwarted by the woodwork, keeper plus a couple of uncharacteristically wayward finishes.

Boss Graham Fenton reflected: “We made a slow start against determined but defensive opponents.

“Once we got to grips, we knocked the ball about and romped home in the end.”

North Shields: Courtney, Elliott, Grey, Richardson, Smith (Donnison 61), Hughes, Robinson (Carr 58), Forster, Bainbridge, Walker (Hook 71), Holmes. Subs not used: Mbiavanga, Ball.

North Shields progressed to the quarter-finals of the Ernest Armstrong trophy with a 2-0 verdict over Esh Winning.

The game was played throughout in heavy rain coupled with a fierce wind on a night when most other matches were postponed or abandoned.

Phil Robinson notched his first goal for the club in the opening minute with Smart booking the passage as the second half unwound.

Shields’ forthcoming fixtures are Saturday, January 4, Brandon United, home; Saturday, January 11, Jarrow Roofing, away: Saturday, January 18, Washington, home; Wednesday, January 22, Brandon United, away (League Cup); Tuesday, January 28, Alnwick Town, away.