Bainbridge makes it seven in three for North Shields

Former Ashington front-runner Gareth Bainbridge has certainly made an immediate impression after signing for the Robins and a superb hat-trick against Scottish visitors Beith took his tally to seven strikes in just three games.

So far the Shieldsmen have accounted for Evo-Stik Northern Premier League opposition in Blyth Spartans, Team Northumbria from Northern Division One and now west of Scotland side Beith Juniors as Graham Fenton’s men have started pre-season in encouraging form.

The Robins had met Gala Fairydene from north of the border in the previous two seasons, a match apiece home and away both ending in 1-1 draws.

Beith proved determined opponents almost snatching an equaliser in the closing stages with the 90 minutes serving up some tasty football and a good test for both outfits.

The Robins established keeper Michael Robinson donned the gloves for the first time but it was the visiting custodian Adam Strain who was first called upon to keep his side afloat, denying Bainbridge then Dan Smart with Bainbridge just off target from a tight angle.

Strain, though, was picking the ball out of the back of the net on the 14 minute mark, beaten as Bainbridge drilled the ball home.

The pacy Charlie Hobbs was the visitors main threat and he planted a header only inches wide then racing clear only to be thwarted by a fine save from Michael Robinson.

It was a riveting spectacle with end to end exchanges with the Robins roaring into a two goal lead after 23 minutes, Bainbridge again drawing applause with a neat turn and strike after receiving from John Grey.

Bainbridge almost added to his tally with a delicious curler but it was Beith who pulled one back through the dangerous Hobbs.

Just before the break Grey rattled the bar and Smart tucked in the rebound but a raised assistant’s flag curtailed the celebrations.

Shields made half a dozen changes on the turnaround but still found their rhythm and it was Bainbridge who took the plaudits with a stunning volley past an outstretched keeper with 50 minutes on the clock.

Some great work by Phil Robinson all but saw Bainbridge bag number four before Kenny McLean, a prolific scorer for Beith over the last six years, cut in to reduce the deficit with half an hour left to play.

Both teams continued to conjure up openings, Dean Walker for the hosts driving just past the upright then ghosting ahead of a defender only to see the keeper save well.

The north Ayrshire side never gave up though and it took a double block from Robinson in a frantic finale to maintain the Robins’ advantage.

North Shields: M Robinson, Hook, Grey, trialist, Parker, Elliott, trialist, Wrightson, Bainbridge, Smart, Walker. Second half substitutes: Akinbolu, P Robinson, Richardson, Scope, Trialist, Trialist.

North Shields entertain Durham City on Saturday (3pm) then host Prudhoe on Wednesday, July 31 (7.30pm).