ANDY Hay’s clinical first half strike appeared to be enough to earn North Shields another victory but their hopes of a precious three points were scuppered by a late Chester-le-Street leveller.
The hosts have surprisingly struggled for much of the campaign but they did hammer Hebburn 4-0 on their own patch recently, so they were certainly not underestimated by Shields team boss Anthony Woodhouse, and perhaps the point achieved was not such a bad result after all.
The Robins team boss though could not hide his disappointment afterwards saying: “We should have had the game wrapped up by half-time.In the second period we never got going but had to dig in.”
Shields, however, remain unbeaten on their Northern League travels for a staggering 23 games and they continue to sit comfortably in the table in third position.
Woodhouse named an unchanged starting 11 for the third successive match with Paul Dunn, available again, having to be content with a place on the bench though an injury to Danny Bowlt meant he was thrust into action by the half hour mark.
The game kicked off in difficult blustery conditions with Shields having taken out of the fray with Dean Holmes given half an hour to run at the Chester rearguard.
The hosts came more into the game, enjoying a fair share of possession but still the better opportunities were being created by Woodhouse’s lads.
Had Blandford gone down when fouled in the box he would surely have been award a spot kick but the Shieldsmen were caught out with seven minutes left on the clock when centre forward Scott Swanston headed in the equaliser.
A tense closing period saw a Holmes goal bound shot deflected agonisingly past the post.
Shields assistant boss Andy Bowman said: “The game should have been over had we taken our chances, but the worry is when we are not making them.”
North Shields: Robinson, Hughes, Patterson, McAlindon, Harmison, Bowlt (Dunn 30), Gordon, Blandford, Hay (Holmes 60), Douglas, Luccock (Wright 64). Subs not used: Grey, Livermore.
On Saturday North Shields host Thornaby at the Daren Persson Stadium at Ralph Gardner Park, kick off is 3pm.