Elementary as Holmes hat-trick steers North Shields into semi-final
A 16-minute hat-trick from Dean Holmes helped North Shields cruise into the semi-finals of the Brooks Mileson League Cup.
Holmes’ treble came in the first-half before Gareth Bainbridge and substitute Dan Wilson added second-half goals to set-up a last four clash away to Marske United.
Similar to the previous rounds, Shields boss Jon McDonald gave opportunities to players who had not seen as much first-team action as others in recent weeks, with Jordan Summerly, Bobby Taylor, Michael McKeown and Bainbridge all in the starting line-up.
And the five changes needed no time to adapt with an attacking intent evident from the start from the home side.
Holmes, who found himself switching between both wings, caused the visitors all sorts of problems. The winger delivered two deadly crosses in the opening ten minutes, the best falling to the out-stretched Adam Forster, who could not find enough connection on the ball.
The Robins, who were looking for their first clean sheet since they beat Dunston 3-0 in December, were nearly breached at the back in the 21st minute as Summerly bravely got a touch to prevent Scott Heslop from having a tap-in.
Despite the scare, Shields remained in firm control as an opener continued to look likely to fall in the hosts’ favour.
The energetic Robins’ pressure was rewarded in the 26th minute when Holmes volleyed home from inside the area following an excellent delivery from Summerly.
And it was shortly 2-0 just under ten minutes later as Bainbridge showed a burst of pace to pick out his teammate, who headed home from a similar position to his first strike.
The 16-minute treble was then complete as the newly crowned fox-in-the-box had time and space to bury the ball in the bottom corner in the 43rd minute.
Dunston rarely posed a threat in the first half, and after arriving late out for the second period, a slight reaction was delivered as the Robins had to defend well to prevent the visitors from testing Kyle Hayes’ goal.
However, any pressure from the away side was shortly ended as Holmes latched onto a long pass to smartly control the ball before seeing his shot saved by keeper Jack Norton, though Bainbridge was there to slot home the rebounded shot for 4-0 in the 58th minute.
Hat-trick hero Holmes left the pitch in the 66th with a warm applause from the 241 strong crowd, as Wilson joined the action.
And Wilson himself was to follow Holmes in adding his name on the score-sheet just six minutes later. McKeown’s corner found the head of Curtis Coppen – the defender’s header was initially well saved by Norton, but Wilson was alert to the situation to toe the ball home for a fifth.
The Robins remained professional as they searched for more. Wilson hit the side-netting before late appeals for a Shields penalty after Summerly fell in the box were waved away by referee Lindsey Robinson.
Shields now face the task of a tough journey to Marske in early March to possibly add another final to their name having already booked their place in the Northumberland Senior Cup final.
But first, it’s back to focusing on the league as the possibility of making it 11 league wins against an in-form Bishop Auckland on Saturday in NE29 is upon the Robins.