North Shields strike late to rob the Highwaymen
Goals from Gareth Bainbridge and Ryan Carr helped North Shields complete a last-gasp turnaround against Morpeth Town, coming from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory at the Daren Persson Stadium.
The game itself was in jeopardy when one of the floodlights failed to illuminate just ten minutes into the game, but a quick half-time turnaround at the behest of referee Lucy Oliver ensured that an abandonment was not necessary on the night.
The Robins had the better of the early half chances.
Town keeper Niall Harrison was forced to smother at Lee Mason’s feet after the winger had latched onto Michael McKeown’s fine cross-field ball.
Then Mason provided the pass for the next opportunity, playing a tidy one-two with Bainbridge, whose effort was well blocked by Michael Hall.
That was as close as Shields would come for much of the first half, which proved to be a tight affair between two evenly-matched sides.
Much like in the previous encounter on Tyneside, Morpeth gradually gained the upper hand, the dangerous Sean Taylor sending a half-volley off target and Luke Carr narrowly heading Dale Pearson’s delightful dink wide of the post.
The two combined again to put Morpeth ahead on 28 minutes. This time Carr was the provider, the Vase hero dancing through the centre before playing in Pearson, who made no mistake with a composed finish.
Town’s Polish wide man Mateusz Halambiec fired straight at Chris Bannon in the Shields goal, while opposition counterpart Peter Glen-Ravenhill scooped well over the bar as the first half drew to a close, and the Highwaymen were back on the front foot when play promptly resumed, Ben Sayer, Halambiec and Pearson all angling at goal.
Former Spennymoor Town playmaker Keith Graydon fired well over and Taylor again curled an effort wide, but clear cut chances remained scarce on the ground.
Shields, meanwhile, were not at their fluent best. An off target shot from McKeown their closest attempt before the hour, but the hosts were still very much in the game as the final 15 minutes approached.
With time running out the home side started to turn the screw, posing more of a threat on the break, and Harrison had to be alert to keep out John Parker from a corner.
The effort noticeably lifted much of the 247-strong crowd, who would soon be roaring for a penalty in the 81st minute when Jack Donnison steamed into the area, only to be sent tumbling by a sliding challenge. The referee pointed to the spot, and Bainbridge coolly stepped up to send Harrison the wrong way, taking his tally to 13 for the season.
Not content with sharing the spoils, North Shields stunned the deflated visitors five minutes from time.
Good initial harrying from Bainbridge kept the ball alive in the final third, and the forward eventually scooped a pass into the path of substitute Ryan Carr, who controlled it with his knee and sent it low beyond Harrison.
The late clincher was somewhat harsh on Morpeth, who were the better side for large parts of the evening, but Shields nevertheless showed determination and spirit to turn the game back in their favour.
Highlights of Monday night’s game can viewed on NSFCTV – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFKDlUjQCJIThe victory stands Shields in good stead ahead of their midweek trip across the water to Gateshead-based outfit Dunston UTS on Thursday evening.
North Shields: Bannon, Donnison, Summerly, McKeown, Parker, Hughes, Glen-Ravenhill (Wilson), Ormston, Bainbridge, Richardson (Devlin), Mason (Carr).
Morpeth Town: Harrison, Forster, Henderson, Sayer, Hall, Fenwick, Taylor, Graydon (McAndrew), Pearson, Carr, Halambiec.