A buoyant North Shields took several positives from their first match of the new campaign as they beat Evo-stik Premier visitors Blyth Spartans.
It was an absorbing spectacle at a sweltering Daren Persson stadium in front of 221 supporters with the Robins, always in front, coming out on top as seven goals entertained the crowd.
In their starting line-up the Shieldsmen fielded three newcomers – defender John Parker (ex Sunderland RCA and West Auckland) alongside front runners Gareth Bainbridge (Ashington) and Dean Walker (Hebburn).
On the bench and introduced in the second half were striker Dan Smart (Jarrow Roofing) and Jack Donnison, formerly of Blyth Town.
Bainbridge marked his debut with an impressive brace against a Spartans outfit that contained both Dean Holmes and Robbie Nolan, who sported Shields colours in the last campaign.
With Adam Forster and Ben Richardson orchestrating the Robins midfield once more it took only ten minutes for Bainbridge to open his account, Forster the provider, with a stunning volley after cleverly lining up his target.
Such a scorching effort gave Connor Grant in the Blyth goal no chance whatsoever but the hosts lead didn’t last long as Spartans levelled with a fortuitous own goal.
Without established custodian Michael Robinson and his deputy, both unavailable, the Robins had to rely upon a trialist between the posts but he excelled with a superb touch behind to deny Jordan Mellish.
On the stroke of half time Shields struck as Richardson spread an exquisite ball into the path of left back John Grey, who steadied himself before coolly firing into the far corner of the net.
Two-one to the Shieldsmen at the break became 3-1 on the hour with Dean Walker’s cross seeing Bainbridge react brilliantly to plant a header past Grant.
Craig Hubbard drove just wide for Tom Wade’s men before Ryan Cummings produced a clinical finish, rifling into the bottom corner.
Shields, though, restored their two goal advantage on the 78 minute mark as Dan Smart rattled the crossbar with Walker making no mistake from the rebound.
That looked to be the end of the scoring but in the final seconds Dan Maguire scrambled in the visitor’s third.
North Shields: Trialist, Elliott, Grey, trialist, Hughes (captain), Parker, Richardson, Forster, Bainbridge, Wrightson, Walker. Subs: Donnison, P Robinson, Smart, trialist, trialist.
This Saturday Shields take on Team Northumbria, at Bullocksteads, with a 2pm kick off.
Following on from the Robins’ final friendly trip to Hemsworth MW on Saturday, August 3 they now, as a result of the FA competition’s draw, find themselves lined up for two more Yorkshire excursions.
North Shields have been paired with Albion Sports, who were champions of last season’s Northern Counties East League division one and who now play at the ground of AFC Farsley, the FA Cup extra preliminary round tie to take place on Saturday, August 17, with the victors having home advantage over Colne or South Shields.
In the FA Vase second qualifying round the Robins visit Silsden of the North West Counties premier division on Saturday, September 21.