Robins fail to close the gap
Team Northumbria 2-0 North Shields
North Shields missed the chance to close the gap on third-place Shildon to one point following a 2-0 defeat at Team Northumbria.
Kick-off was delayed until 3:15pm due the earlier uncertainty as to whether the match would go ahead.
And that worked in the home side’s advantage as Kevin Carr put the Students into an early lead.
The Robins had the opportunity to level before half-time but Gareth Bainbridge uncharacteristically blazed his penalty over the crossbar.
Shields took some time to get going in the second-half but finished strongly in the final 25 minutes – with only the brilliance of Team North keeper Greg Purvis denying the visitors at least a point.
Aidan Heywood made the most of Purvis’ defiance when he put the game beyond reach in injury.
Despite the distraction of a delayed kick-off, Brian Smith’s men were aiming to get back to winning ways.
But proceedings started in the worse possible fashion as the hosts got themselves in front, four minutes in.
Robert Spence’s lofted ball into the area caused problems for Jack Donnison – Ben Dibb-Fuller then latched onto the second ball before picking out Carr, who slotted in from close-range.
Team North built on their lively start but Adam Forster caught the home defence slacking as he fed a ball into Bainbridge, though the attacker witnessed his low effort kept out by Purvis.
Dibb-Fuller was emerging as the Students’ bright spark, and his set pieces were proving his biggest asset as his side went close to converting on two occasions.
Although it wasn’t the greatest of beginnings by the Robins’ standards, in the 37th minute, Dean Holmes’ tumble in the box earned the visitors a spot-kick.
Bainbridge stepped up, but to everyone’s surprise, aimed over Purvis’ crossbar.
Bainbridge was back amongst the goalmouth action early in the second-half.
Team North Angelos Eleftheriadis flicked the ball into the path of Bainbridge, and was relieved to see the Robins’ number nine hit his shot into the side netting.
Moments later, the home side responded at the other end as only the face of Rhys Groves prevented Spence from making it 2-0.
But as the second period went on, the Robins stepped up a gear, but so did home keeper Purvis.
The pace of Holmes allowed him to find Bainbridge at the near post but Purvis saved with relative ease.
In the 70th minute, Groves showed excellent vision and skill to chip the ball into the path of the unmarked Holmes, but Purvis somehow got enough on the ball to touch it round the post.
Purvis stood as Shields’ worst enemy as once more he stopped Bainbridge, who met Ben Harmison left-footed cross.
James Luccock, a second-half substitute, was forced to depart through injury as Ben Sampson made his North Shields debut.
And the Robins next attack followed down Sampson’s side as Bainbridge drifted out wide to feed Holmes, who disappointingly fired way off target.
The best save of the lot fell when Donnison powered an effort into the near post but Purvis stretched to parry it behind.
Shields huffed and puffed but it proved to be one of those afternoons as Carr and Heywood combined to confirm the three points for the Students.
Next up for Shields is a home tie against Newton Aycliffe.
North Shields: McCafferty, Donnison, Summerly, Forster, Groves (Robinson), Hughes, McFarlane (Luccock then Sampson), Robson, Bainbridge, Harmison, Holmes.