Woodhouse praise for the team spirt

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THE heavy Ralph Gardner Park pitch failed a midday inspection following freezing overnight conditions resulting in the postponement of the North Shields FC game with Seaham Red Star on Saturday.

Ahead of their midweek match with Team Northumbria, the Robins trail leaders of STL Northern League division two Newton Aycliffe by 15 points but have five games in hand.

Second top Guisborough Town are four points ahead of the Shieldsmen having completed three more fixtures whilst Marske United in fourth, whom the Robins have still to meet twice, are six adrift having played one more match.

Team boss Anthony Woodhouse is hoping his side can continue their momentum towards a promotion place.

He said: “Selection is sometimes difficult with a squad of 23 but it’s a healthy problem to have.

“We’ve got a great bunch of lads who are easy to manage and the team spirit and commitment is fantastic.

“We’re playing some quality football and knocking in the goals, but we’ve got to remember that it’s just past half way in our league fixtures and there’s a lot more work to do.”

North Shields have rattled up 51 strikes in 20 league fixtures coupled with another 21 in eight knockout matches.

Top goal poacher so far is skipper Keith Douglas with 23 followed by James Luccock with 13 and Andy Hay nine.

Other goals have been shared by: Andy Bowman six, Michael Pattison five, Mark Rasmussen three, Paul Watson three, Andy Wright two, with one apiece for Jon Hall, Joe Elliott, Robbie Livermore, Steve Swinyard, Phil Cartwright, Chris Laws and Gary Cook plus one own goal.

Saturday sees the Robins visiting mid-table Chester-le-Street Town hoping to repeat a 2-1 verdict secured over the Cestrians when the sides met at the Daren Persson Stadium in September, when Douglas and Bowman were on the scoresheet.

Shields have not played against Chester-le-Street at Chester Moor in a competitive fixture since 1988 when the points were shared in a goalless draw.

The starting 11 representing the Robins that day were: Simon Hopkins, Wilf Keilty, John Graham, Martin Hamilton, Mick Bailey, Steve Golightly, Paul Ferris, Tony Burgess, Don Peattie, Barrie Wardrobe, Martin Henderson.

Prior to that Shields won 3-1 in a Northern League Cup clash (Paul Pitman, Ferris, Henderson) and 3-0 in 1987-88 (Peattie, 2, Pitman).

Gus McArdle netted in a 1-1 draw in 1986-87, Micky Taylor bagged the only goal in a 6-1 reverse 12 months earlier whilst a brace from Ian Mutrie and another from Micky Carroll secured a 3-2 win in the first ever meeting.

Forthcoming North Shields fixtures are: Wednesday, February 9 v Hebburn Town, away; Saturday, February 12 v Gillford Park, away; Tuesday, February 15 v Marske United, home; and Saturday, February 19 v Birtley Town, away.

In the quarter-final of the Ernest Armstrong Trophy, Woodhouse’s lads travel to the winners of the Gillford Park/Whickham tie.