NORTH Shields FC were simply sensational as they went nap, sweeping aside a potentially stern challenge from eighth top Darlington RA.
The Railwaymen were fired up for revenge after being taken apart by a four-goal haul from substitute James Luccock when the sides met earlier in the season on Tyneside.
This time, at Brinkburn Road, Luccock was provider for three of the five goals as the points were secured by a superb hat-trick from Andy Hay and a brace from Keith Douglas, making it 20 for the skipper.
It was anything but unlucky 13 for the Shieldsmen who made it ten wins and three draws in as many league matches with a goals tally of 31 for and only 11 against.
Three key men, defenders Femi Akinbolu, Jonathan Hall and front runner Michael Pattison were all unavailable for Saturday’s clash whilst the Robins had a five-a-side team of injured players, some failing late fitness tests, cheering from the touchline.
Darlington were buoyed by a 5-3 victory at fifth top Whickham seven days earlier but were to be taken apart by the rampant Robins, who took a mere seven minutes to open their account.
Hay, released by Douglas, advanced to power a beauty into the roof of the net.
With 20 minutes on the clock Danny Patterson and Mark Rasmussen combined to release Luccock down the left flank who, after gliding past a defender, crossed where Hay was first to react and it was 2-0.
The hosts had their fair share of possession but Shields keeper Michael Robinson, behind a solid back-line, was rarely troubled.
Centre half Steven Robinson, hobbling after a challenge on the half hour continued till the break before being replaced on the turnaround by player-boss Anthony Woodhouse, donning his boots for the first time since coming off the bench in a 2-2 draw at Thornaby in March 2010.
On 51 minutes great work by Rasmussen released Luccock, whose centre was gleefully tucked away by Douglas.
Luccock set up another for Douglas after 74 minutes, before Hay put the seal on a memorable performance with an absolute belter that swerved viciously past a shell-shocked keeper.
North Shields: M Robinson, Graham (Harris 70), Patterson, Cartwright, S Robinson (Woodhouse 46), Baistow, Rasmussen, Watson (Livermore 65), Hay, Douglas, Luccock. Subs not used: Bowman, Fenton.
North Shields host Seaham Red Star on Saturday, kick-off 3pm at the Daren Persson Stadium having won 1-0 at Seaham in an FA Cup tie (Andy Wright) and 4-1 (Douglas 3, Andy Bowman) with points at stake.
On Tuesday, February 1, fourth top Team Northumbria are the visitors (7.30pm).
The last time Shields won by such a margin on their travels was in 2005 when Paul Gibbs notched a hat-trick in a 6-1 verdict at Willington with David Thompson, David Brown and Paul Hogg also on the scoresheet.
Back further in Northern League circles, in 1984 under player-boss Jim Pearson, they triumphed 5-1 at Evenwood and 12 months earlier, despite ace striker Ian Donaldson missing out against his former club, they enjoyed a 5-0 scoreline at Ashington’s old Portland Park Ground.