Six points in four days for Robins

Gareth Bainbridge challenges for the ball. Picture by Ian Warde.

Gareth Bainbridge challenges for the ball. Picture by Ian Warde.

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Six goals and six points saw the Robins complete a most satisfactory four-day spell on their travels.

Commanding defender Brian Smith proved to be the match winner at the Glebe against Whickham with an 18th minute header on his debut following his second transfer to the club from Whitley Bay.

Earlier Shields had gone nap under the Brandon lights with Dan Smart rifling four goals and Kieran Wrightson producing one for the scrapbook.

The Robins handed a first start to left back Michael Turner in the absence of John Grey and the new lad was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with an early header scrambled off the line.

Once Smart struck with 13 minutes on the clock, though, the outcome was never in doubt, tucking away the loose ball after keeper Andrew Wilkinson had blocked his first effort.

Brandon must have thought they had survived conceding a second when Dean Walker’s header was hacked off the line but Wrightson’s stunning 30 yarder into the roof of the net put the Robins two up.

Smart’s superb header added to the Shieldsmen’s tally then the centre-forward was upended in the box, dusted himself down to coolly despatch the resultant penalty all before the break.

The scoring was completed on the 76th minute mark with Smart reacting quickly to slot in the rebound after Wilkinson was at full stretch to keep out a fierce Adam Scope drive and make it 18 goals so far this campaign, only two behind Gareth Bainbridge.

Onto Whickham where it took some resolute defending to keep the hosts at bay and bring home the points that propelled the Robins to second place in the table. Boss Graham Fenton was proud of his players performance.

“We had to keep on battling to score the win,” he said.

“Last season I doubt we would have been able to do that.

“We weren’t fluent but it wasn’t that sort of game.

“The work rate was outstanding, our team spirit is good, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

With John Grey serving a one game suspension, Stuart Donnison switched from right back to left to supplement fellow defensive partners, Kevin Hughes, John Parker, John Hook and Smith, who all were in no mood to be beaten.

Smith revelled in his return to the Robins, he last played for the club in a 1-0 verdict over Marske United in April 2010, netting eight times that season.

Joe Elliott and Bainbridge were both fit enough to be named on the bench, the latter thrust into the fray midway through the first half.

Home keeper John Mordey flapped at Smith’s goalbound header, an eagle-eyed assistant quick to notice the ball had crossed the line and the Shieldsmen had the advantage.

Digging deep, they survived all that Whickham could throw at them in a tense closing spell.

Tom Courtney displayed confident handling, Ben Richardson cleared off the line and Steven Aiston struck the crossbar before the Shieldsmen could celebrate.

North Shields: Courtney, Hook, Donnison, Smith, Parker, Hughes, Robinson (Holmes 63), Richardson, Smart, Scope, Walker (Bainbridge 20). Subs not used: Elliott, Mbiavanga, Forster.

North Shields player-coach Keith Douglas, scorer of ten goals this campaign, and 83 in his Shields career has been transferred to Alnwick Town where he bagged a brace on his debut.

Keith has not ruled out the possibility of a move back to the Robins in due course.

On Saturday it’s a cross Tyne derby with South Shields travelling to the Daren Persson Stadium for a 3pm kick-off.

The sides last met in a FA Vase tie at Filtrona Park in 2010 with the Mariners winning 2-0.

Last time on North Shields soil was in the 2007-8 season, the visitors the victors by a three goal margin.

Then Esh Winning make a quick second trip to Tyneside to complete in an Ernest Armstrong cup tie on Wednesday, November 20 (7.30pm).