Bainbridge at the double
Stockton 1-3 North Shields
A late brace from substitute Gareth Bainbridge helped North Shields to a 3-1 win in the Robins’ first ever visit to Stockton Town.
Stockton started the better team and took the lead in the first half with Kevin Hayes beating Michael Robinson with a beautiful curling effort.
Shields grew in to the match as it went on, but were struggling to find an opening until Lee Mason smashed home with 20 minutes to play.
The game wasn’t level for long as moments later Bainbridge burst in to the Stockton box and put Shields in front.
With Stockton pushing for an equaliser, Shields kept up the pressure and Bainbridge completed the scoring in the last minute to make it 3-1 to Shields.
Stockton got off to a flying start and dominated the opening stages with Nathan Mulligan coming close to scoring an early goal, but Kevin Hughes was there on the line to block the shot.
Chris Stockton was next to try his luck for Stockton, but his effort from a couple of yards out was brilliantly saved by returning keeper Robinson, who was making his 200th appearance for the Robins.
But the hosts wouldn’t have to wait long before they took the lead. Hayes picked up the ball for the Teessiders about 20 yards from goal and curled an effort in to the top corner, giving Robinson no chance.
It was a deserved lead for Stockton, who had really been the only side in it up to this point, but Shields responded well to going behind.
Moments after conceding, Shields had put the ball in the net themselves, but Craig McFarlane was judged to be offside.
McFarlane was proving a real threat to Stockton and was unlucky when his freekick from 20 yards out went just past the post.
Shields should have gone in at half time level after a great move saw McFarlane baring down on goal, but he was unable to guide his close-range effort on target when he looked destined to score.
Shields started the second half brighter and had three early efforts to level, but Mason, Gary Ormston and Ben Sampson were unable to really test Liam Jordan in the Stockton goal, with the latter two heading off-target.
The game was starting to fizzle out until a double substitution from North Shields with 20 minutes left to play. One of the players coming on, Bainbridge, was involved immediately.
Mason intercepted the ball in the North Shields half and strode forwards in to the space created by Bainbridge, before rifling in an effort from the edge of the box to equalise.
The game opened up with both sides looking for a winner and Stockton were made to pay for committing too many men forwards when Shields hit on the counter and Bainbridge slotted home an angled shot to put Shields in front.
Stockton were determined to get something out of the game but struggled to create anything clear cut until with two minutes to play, Max Craggs headed over the bar from a couple of yards out.
Shields were still going forwards looking for a chance that could kill the game off and found one with 90 seconds to spare. A flicked ball in to the box found Bainbridge, who slammed home North Shields’ third goal of the day to wrap up the three points and lift the Robins to second place in the Northern League table.