NORTH Shields, buoyed by Jon Hall’s late equaliser against Morpeth in a 1-1 draw, travelled to Ryhope CW with confidence albeit that the Welfare side had shot into an early lead at the top of the table having rattled in 12 goals in their opening two games.
The league newcomers, managed by Shields old boy Martin Swales who served the club with distinction between 1992-94, gave a warm welcome to Graham Fenton’s lads on an historic occasion for the Wearsiders, their first ever home game as members of the Northern League.
If it was to end in heartache for Swales and his side his counterpart Fenton couldn’t contain a smile at the end of a compelling 90 minutes.
Fenton said: “We knew our first three league fixtures would all be tough and our immediate target was to get at least four points on the board.
“We’ve now achieved that and I am delighted at the way we went about it.
“The display against Morpeth was decent enough whilst at Ryhope every player, without exception, did the job asked of him.
“Our lads at the back kept a tight check on their free scoring front runners and we looked dangerous going forward with our wing backs and midfield working well.
“For once we got the rub of the green and this latest result will do the players confidence no end of good.”
Out were the unavailable Paul Watson whilst Adam Rowntree was rested so Rob McCrudden started a match for the first time with Femi Akinbolu leading the line and Shields legend Keith Douglas, recovered from an ankle injury, was raring to go if called upon from the bench.
The Robins went close early on as skipper Danny Patterson supplied a great ball to Akinbolu, who curled an effort inches wide.
The visitors then took an 18th minute lead.
Ben Richardson’s free kick was met at the near post by Robins’ centre half James Harmison, who knocked in his first goal for the club in clinical fashion.
That was a boost for the Tynesiders and it was so nearly two moments later when Adam Forster and Phil Robinson combined with the latter’s shot cannoning off the upright.
The hosts responded and, after Butler set up Richard Jordan only to shoot wide of the target, they levelled on the 33 minute mark.
Mark Catcheside drilled home a free kick but the defensive wall had encroached so a re-take was ordered and this time he slotted the ball into the opposite corner.
Undeterred the Shieldsmen roared back to regain the initiative and man of the match Forster cleverly won possession on the bye-line before crossing for Akinbolu to touch home at the far post.
Shields were agonisingly close to extending their advantage seconds before the break when Robinson and Akinbolu carved out an opening and Forster’s shot rattled the crossbar with home keeper Chris Rookes well beaten.
The Robins replaced the injured Akinbolu with Dean Holmes at the start of the second period and they survived an early scare when Chris Winn struck the woodwork.
Chris Trewick then headed over when well placed and Michael Robinson tipped behind from Butler before Shields bagged a third goal.
Phil Robinson released Holmes whose pace took him into the area before he was upended by James Cook.
Up stepped Douglas, only on the field six minutes, to coolly dispatch the spot kick to deflate the homesters.
For all Ryhope’s efforts they could not reduce the deficit in the remaining minutes as Shields produced some sterling work at the back.
Michael Robinson made a brilliant double save to thwart Winn then kept out another effort from Michael Charlton, Joe Elliott cleared off the line and Butler struck the bar before the whistle blew and the Robins could celebrate.
North Shields: M Robinson, Hook (M Watson 87), Patterson, Hall, Harmison, Elliott, Forster, Richardson, Akinbolu (Holmes 45), P Robinson, McCrudden (Douglas 66). Subs not used: Ewruje, McCafferty.
On Saturday North Shields are in FA Vase action when they travel to take on Liversedge of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
Liversedge lie seventh currently in the table having won three of their five matches to date.
The Robins have twice previously played at the Clayborn Ground both times in the 1991-92 season, winning 4-0 in a league clash with Gary Nicholson, Steve Pyle, Neil Howie and Tony Burgess sharing the goals and 3-0 in a President’s Cup victory (Graeme Jones, Barrie Wardrobe and an own goal).
Kick off is 3pm with any replay scheduled for Wednesday, September 5.
Otherwise the Robins will entertain Whitehaven with league points at stake (7.45pm kick off).