Under strength Robins suffer back to back defeats

Curtis Coppen tries to hook the ball in for North Shields in their game against West Auckland. Picture by Ian Warde.

Curtis Coppen tries to hook the ball in for North Shields in their game against West Auckland. Picture by Ian Warde.

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Newly promoted North Shields face two of the most difficult fixtures imaginable in the space of four days.

Unbeaten until their midweek visit to Dean Street the management trio of Graham Fenton, Andy Bowman and Brian Smith faced yet another selection dilemma.

Between the posts Michael Robinson, James Howarth and Newcastle United apprentice Brendan Pearson were all ruled out injured so young David Morton again donned the gloves.

Up front things were no easier with an entire strike force of hot-shots Gareth Bainbridge, Dean Holmes, Dean Walker and Peter Glen-Ravenhill all sidelined alongside midfield dynamo Adam Forster.

Shields though still boast terrific spirit and effort and deservedly took a first half lead against a Shildon side that ended last term in third position.

An audacious chip over the keeper by the impressive Denver Morris sent the visiting faithful into raptures.

Shields were looking assured and good value for their advantage but right on the stroke of half time a lapse in concentration allowed Chris Emms the opportunity of an equaliser.

Emms bagged a second with a scuffed shot before Shields rallied and sub Dan Smart was only inches wide with a stinging drive then Kieran Wrightson, scorer of that stunner that dumped Shildon out of the League Cup last season, forced home custodian Lewis Graham into a spectacular touch behind.

Billy Greulich-Smith’s firm header appeared to have made the points safe but the Railwaymen had to withstand a late rally and another clinical finish from Morris set up a nervy finale.

North Shields: Morton, Donnison, Turner, Coppen, Elliott (Parker 62), Hughes, Morris, Richardson, Grey (Smart 50), Wrightson, Luccock. Subs (not used): Smith, Ewart, Livermore.

West Auckland 2 North Shields 0

Onto Darlington Road and a first meet up again with Vase finalists West Auckland for the first time since 1983.

Then Shields triumphed 2-0 with the prolific Ian Donaldson and Geoff Smith on the scoresheet – this time it ended with a two goal verdict to the hosts.

The Robins, particularly king-pin central defender John Parker against his old club were fired up for this one.

It was nip and tuck from the off with Dean Holmes happily if tentatively restored to the fray.

Auckland’s pitch is notoriously undulating but the Tynesiders adapted well and Morris was unlucky not to give his side an early advantage after a surging run, thwarted by the keeper’s block.

Neil Pattison’s speculative up and under deceived everyone including keeper Morton to deflate the Robins though the keeper atoned by keeping out Dennis Knight’s penalty kick as the second half unwound.

Ian Ward nodded in West’s second as Shields ran out of steam and ideas but late on effervescent full back Jack Donnison finished off a flowing move with a blistering shot only kept out by the keeper’s fingertips.

North Shields: Morton, Donnison, Grey, Coppen, Parker, Hughes, Luccock, Richardson, Morris, Wrightson (Turner 69), Holmes. Subs (not used): Elliott, Ewart, Bowman, Forster.