Opening day run of defeats goes to nine

action from Jarrow Roofing FC v North Shields FC
action from Jarrow Roofing FC v North Shields FC

WHEN the Northern League fixtures are compiled teams must be queueing up in the hope of being the Robins opponents in the opening encounter.

The lucky side this time round were Jarrow Roofing as Shields have now gone nine first day matches without a win.

Since 2004 when the Robins rejoined the competition they have lost seven, managing to share the points twice – at Washington and at Alnwick in the last campaign.

Graham Fenton’s lads battled hard at the Boldon Sports Ground but couldn’t find the net, going down to a goal scored after only 70 seconds.

Perhaps the Shieldsmen were caught cold and they did put together an enterprising spell midway through the second half but the Robins reward so far is one goal, credited to Paul Watson, in 270 minutes.

Shields assistant boss Andy Bowman reflected after the match.

He said: “It was an uncharacteristic lack of tracking his man by young Adam Forster in the first minute that proved the sucker punch.

“We need to work on creating chances and then being clinical.

“The plus points are that strikers Dean Holmes, Andy Hay and Stewart Wright all return to the squad for the match at Ryhope CW on Saturday.

“Results were all a bit tight in the league but we’ve two of the best teams – Morpeth midweek and Ryhope to play in our next two games.

“It’s a tough start but we’re looking forward to it.”

It is a testing time for the Robins as Morpeth beat the Shieldsmen three times last season and all by 2-1.

They have strengthened their ranks with the inclusion of three ex-Robins, Paul Dunn, Andy Wright and Michael Chilton whilst another, David Hiftle, is club skipper.

Newly promoted Ryhope CW have romped away with Wearside League honours in recent years and, managed by former Shields player Martin Swales, announced their arrival in Northern League circles by trouncing Stokesley 7-0.

At Jarrow roofing following the early strike by Craig Nelson, apart from one effort by Adam Rowntree that home custodian Josh Carmichael smothered, neither outfit threatened in a rather tame next 44 minutes.

James Harmison was outstanding at the heart of the Shields defence winning man of the match plaudits by the proverbial mile and could consider himself unfortunate to end on the losing side.

Before the hour Roofing twice had chances to increase their lead but Darren Reay rifled over the angle and David Malley headed wide.

On 67 minutes following a Forster free kick, Harmison rose well to powerfully head on but the whistle went for a Rowntree challenge though the ball ended up in the net.

Shields continued to show some spirit and Joe Elliott met a Ben Richardson corner at the far post but his strike was blocked before it crossed the line the, from the resultant flag kick, Paul Watson’s header was held by Carmichael.

There was a spark lacking earlier as the game entered its final quarter and Carmichael fumbled a Richardson drive but gathered at the second attempt whilst at the other end Michael Robinson parried from Malley with Elliott clearing.

Forster all but secured a late equaliser following a terrific run only to be thwarted by a last gasp tackle as he lined up to shoot.

North Shields: M Robinson, Hook, Patterson, P Watson, Harmison, Elliott, Richardson, Forster, Rowntree, Douglas (Akinbolu 60), P Robinson (Hall 70). Subs not used: Farmer, M Watson, McCafferty.