Disappointing run for Robins

NORTH Shields were euphoric after upsetting league leaders Crook Town, but a subsequent one point from six return has hardly enhanced their promotion prospects.

A disappointing 2-1 home reverse against Thornaby – a side they had beaten 6-0 away – was followed by a 2-2 draw with an Alnwick Town battling to get out the drop zone.

It was certainly a rousing full blooded encounter at Alnwick’s St James Park, but at the end of the afternoon only one team could claim to be happy with their point.

Against Thornaby the Robins were caught out inside 100 seconds thanks to a 25 yarder from Michael Joseph, then worse was to follow as centre forward Gary Mitchell lobbed a second.

A fine strike from John Grey on the stroke of half-time gave the Shieldsmen hope, but though the hosts stepped up a gear, creating a number of opportunities in a frenetic second period, the Teessiders held on.

Saturday’s clash at Alnwick only went ahead after two pitch inspections, Robins’ boss Graham Fenton handing a first start to former Newcastle Benfield and Whitley Bay winger Michael McMullen.

It took just eight minutes for McMullen to make an impact with a glorious 30-yard drive that left Alnwick custodian Brian Brooks helpless.

Shields leading marksman Rob Nolan nearly made it two but was thwarted by Brooks before the home side shocked the Tynesiders by taking a 2-1 lead by the 33rd minute.

Daniel Thompson’s glancing header levelled the scores then Chris Moffatt’s shot had the home dug-out bouncing.

It did not take long for the Robins to respond, Nolan on target with a clinical finish, as the half ended all square.

After the turnaround the Shieldsmen lost Keith Douglas through injury but welcomed the return of live wire striker Dean Holmes, and he was unlucky not to prove the match winner with a chip that struck the crossbar, then was hauled down in the area only for the referee to wave away the appeals.

Robins assistant boss Andy Bowman said: “We got punished for not extending our lead – a game at 1-0 is anyone’s, especially against a team that work as hard as Alnwick.

“We weren’t as industrious in the second half yet still could have nicked it.

“Overall certain performances haven’t been good enough and it’s something that we are addressing now.”

North Shields: McCafferty, McCabe (Hall 46), Patterson, Richardson, Harmison, Elliott, McMullen, Forster, Nolan, Douglas (Holmes 50), Wrightson (Rowntree 77). Subs not used: Grey, P Robinson. Man of the match: Adam Forster.

On Saturday North Shields host Horden CW, kick-off at the Daren Persson Stadium is 3pm.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Robins are at home to Ashington in the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup (7.30pm).

Skipper Dan Patterson alongside James Harmison and Keith Douglas are key current members of the Shields side and will be itching to overcome their former club, all having worn Ashington colours.

North Shields last lifted the County Cup in 1991 when a Tony Burgess goal beat Whitley Bay 1-0 in the St James’ Park final.

In the Northumberland Cup, North Shields and Ashington last met in 1986 when the Colliers were in the Northern League second division and the Robins the first.

Shields lined up with: Trevor Ramshaw, Martin Hamilton, David McGeary, Dave Johnson, Dave Steadman, Chris Scott. Steve McKenna, Howard Smith, Micky Taylor, Keith Mills, Kevin Blair with Tim Gilbert as substitute.

A brace from Taylor was followed by a Mills goal as the Robins came through 3-0.