THE Robins hope their season is now up and running after they chalked up a second successive away victory, having now picked up eight of their nine points tally on their travels.
Paul Dunn, signed from Ashington only days earlier, made an immediate impact with a polished display at the back then moving upfield to grab the winner ten minutes from time by superbly nodding home a deep cross from Andy Wright.
Had Team Northumbria won they would have gone top of the league, but it was the Shieldsmen who rose to the occasion, keeping a clean sheet against a side who had rattled in 19 goals in their previous six home matches.
Manager Anthony Woodhouse has courted some controversy with his axing of some fans’ favourites but he was smiling after this latest 90 minutes.
He said: “It’s difficult to explain why and what had gone wrong early season, but there’s no doubt that the Vase exit against Northallerton was embarrassing for both men and the players.
“Consequently I have been working hard in the transfer market to try to freshen up the squad.
“With new players coming in I have had the unthankful task of releasing others who have served the club well.
“At Team Northumbria we defended as a team first half then showed good quality in the second, but I’m not getting carried away just yet.”
Those who have left the club, whether temporarily or permanently, include midfielders Robbie Livermore, Ryan Arnott and Phil Cartwright, the latter having joined Morpeth Town alongside front runner Stewart Wright whilst defender Ross Atkinson has quickly linked up with Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
Taking their places are match-winner Paul Dunn with Woodhouse trying also to secure the services of James Harmison, another ex-Collier.
Lee Mason, who turned out for the Robins midweek against Easington Colliery, netted for Blyth Spartans in the 2-2 pre-season draw at North Shields whilst young striker Dean Holmes has moved in from Heaton Stannington and scored a beauty on his debut as a second half substitute.
At Coach Lane, Robins regular custodian Michael Robinson, happily restored to the side after injury, was soon into action making a fine save from Dan Riley, saw Dean Critchlow swivel but screw his shot wide then brilliantly hold on to a Peter Watling effort on the goal line.
Generally, however, the prolific duo of Critchlow and Watling were well held by the Shields back line of Dunn and Dan Bowlt in the centre, Kevin Hughes switched to right back and player of the year Danny Patterson making surging runs up the left flank.
Shields’ best attempts of the half included Andy Hay testing Andrew Jennison, Keith Douglas rifling just past the post and James Luccock blasting a Douglas cross into the side netting.
Mark Rasmussen livened up the midfield following his second half introduction and unleashed an absolute belter that Jennison somehow touched behind.
Both sides continued to play enterprising football with Hughes to the Robins’ rescue, clearing off the line after Critchlow had managed to round Robinson.
Shields were celebrating after Dunn’s header found the net and they were so close to a second when Luccock broke up a home attack then produced a defence splitting ball that found Holmes, who raced goalwards but his final pass just eluded Douglas.
Rasmussen too went close to easing the Robins’ nerves as the hosts forced a number of corner kicks late on but the Shieldsmen held firm.
North Shields: Robinson, Hughes, Patterson, Salter (Rasmussen 53), Bowlt, Dunn, Luccock, Watson, Hay (A Wright 66), Douglas, Page (Holmes 70). Subs not used: Elliott, Grey.