North Shields closed out their successful 2015-16 campaign in style, a 3-0 win over Durham City ensuring another top-five finish for the Robins.
A Ryan Carr brace either side of a Gareth Bainbridge strike proved more than enough to see off the relegated Citizens, with the Tynesiders finishing above Newton Aycliffe by virtue of goal difference.
The fans were out in force for the season finale at the Daren Persson Stadium, 322 in attendance to applaud their team’s efforts throughout the season, and the Robins duly gave the supporters the send off they deserved.
Senior Cup hero Carr opened the scoring for Shields in the 20th minute when Durham’s defence failed to clear Jack Devlin’s low cross, the midfielder crashing the ball through a crowd of bodies to give the hosts the lead.
Devlin, fresh from scoring a hat-trick in the Wednesday evening win at Washington, forced a decent parry from Andrew Jennison in the Durham goal, and went even closer in the 39th minute, diverting Dean Holmes’ cross onto the crossbar from six yards out.
The Robins doubled the lead three minutes after the break when Gary Ormston teed up Bainbridge inside the area. The number nine swept the ball into the far corner at the first time of asking, taking his season’s tally to 19 goals in all competitions.
The game was over as a contest by the 50th minute as Carr grabbed his second of the game.
Jack Donnison, a double winner at the club’s end of season presentation night, whipped in a delivery from the right and Carr timed his jump to perfection to guide a bullet header into the back of the net.
Bainbridge missed two half-chances to take his total up to a round 20, and Jordan Summerly was denied by a block after a mazy run from left back.
But the highlight of the second half was the long-awaited return of Denver Morris. The winger has endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines after sustaining knee ligament damage in August’s FA Cup win at Bridlington Town, but was brought on for the final seven minutes of the season to rapturous applause from the supporters.
Morris showed flashes of his attacking prowess in the closing stages, knocking the ball past both Nicholas Allen and Adam Crathorne before crossing for Ryan McGorrigan, but his fellow sub’s drive was tipped over by Jennison at the death.
Nevertheless, the result capped another fine season for Shields, in which the club not only grabbed its third piece of silverware in as many seasons, but also compounded its status as a top-five Northern League side.
Highlights from the Robins’ final game of the season can be viewed on NSFCTV at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vmx9X4wzbs
North Shields: Bannon, Donnison, Summerly, Ormston, Coppen, Hughes, Brooking (McGorrigan), Carr, Bainbridge (Morris), Devlin (Mason), Holmes.