Crucial win for North Shields over promotion rivals Jarrow Roofing

John Parker on the ball for North Shields against Jarrow Roofing. Picture by Ian Warde.
John Parker on the ball for North Shields against Jarrow Roofing. Picture by Ian Warde.

What a celebration after Gareth Bainbridge’s 40th strike of the campaign that proved to be the winner in this crunch promotion clash, the Northern League’s undoubted match of the day.

Once more oozing skill, spirit and character, Graham Fenton’s lads pocketed maximum points for an 11th successive time to maintain the momentum and their advantage at the top of the table.

As an ecstatic assistant boss Andy Bowman declared: “It was such an important game to win and puts a big gap between us and fourth.

“The match was always going to be challenging because of the conditions but I thought our fitness would be a huge factor as we got into the second half.

“Adam Forster and Ben Richardson put in great shifts, running the show in midfield whilst for our centre-forward to have netted 40 times at this stage of the season is a huge achievement.

“The league is taking shape and we just need to keep the lads fit and focused as we head to the business end of the season.”

The hosts, who started the day in fourth place, took the lead on the quarter hour mark when Shaun Heads made progress down the left and his cross cum shot was parried away by Tom Courtney but Liam McBryde was able to volley in the loose ball.

Play flowed from end to end at this stage with Shields and Ben Richardson in particular desperately unlucky not to level with a free kick that struck the foot of the post with Andy Hunter in the home goal beaten.

Three minutes from the interval though the Robins deservedly equalised following a fine build-up involving Richardson and Bainbridge, the former again thwarted by the woodwork but this time Dean Holmes was lurking, reacting smartly to jubilantly slot in the rebound.

Roofing enjoyed their only spell of pressure just before the turnaround and Jamie Marshall twice was off target when well placed.

If the first period was relatively even Shields took a firm grip on the resumption and centre half John Parker all but found the net in the opening minute.

Former Birtley Town keeper Hunter brilliantly denied Bainbridge on two occasions, the Robins hot-shot then fired one over the angle before the ground erupted on 68 minutes when John Grey’s through ball found Bainbridge, who cut inside to blast in an absolute beauty.

The match continued at a pulsating pace with Shields displaying their customary fast fluent football and that will to win.

They couldn’t quite put the game to bed as Hunter saved from Adam Scope and Richardson saw an effort hacked off the line but they were certainly able to rejoice once that final whistle sounded.

North Shields: Courtney, Elliott (Donnison 76), Grey, Forster, Parker, Hughes, Holmes (Smart 70), McKeown, Bainbridge, Richardson, Walker (Scope 61). Subs (not used): Smith, Ball.

On Saturday Shields face another tough test when a rejuvenated Washington side travel to the Daren Persson Stadium (3pm).

The Robins are at Brandon United for a Northern League cup tie on Wednesday, January 22, and at Alnwick Town with points at stake on Tuesday, January 28.