Robins go nap to stay in league’s top three

Denver Morris slides home North Shields' fifth goal against Penrith. Picture by Ian Warde.
Denver Morris slides home North Shields' fifth goal against Penrith. Picture by Ian Warde.

The Robins are certainly chirping at the moment and relishing their top three placing in the Northern League First Division.

On the back of this latest success, Graham Fenton’s lads stand only two points behind leaders West Auckland with a game in hand.

They went nap in Cumbria and despite letting in two late goals still boast the best defensive record in the division.

The Shieldsmen travelled with three successive 3-0 scorelines under their belts – the most recent success being against Sunderland RCA

Three second half strikes secured the points against Sunderland after keeper Chris Bannon had kept his side afloat in the opening half by touching a Stephen Callen shot onto the bar and to safety.

Denver Morris superbly struck to break the deadlock then Kieran Wrightson was rewarded for an awesome midfield showing as he converted a James Luccock centre and Dean Holmes produced a crisp finish for the third.

The Shieldsmen thus travelled to Penrith in good spirits and an unchanged line up took the field with Joe Elliott once more sporting the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Kevin Hughes.

Hot shot Gareth Bainbridge remained on the treatment table but the Robins delighted their phenomenal travelling support by racing into a fifth minute lead as

Dean Walker latched onto a through ball to slot past home keeper Tom Newton.

The hosts’ Ryan Hall responded by striking the woodwork but Shields were spraying the ball about with some panache and Morris was thwarted by the keeper’s legs and Elliott saw a goalbound effort frantically blocked.

Bannon confidently saved from home captain and centre forward Grant Davidson before Holmes finished off a flowing move, burying a Luccock cross with aplomb.

Richard Faustino wasted a clear opportunity to reduce the deficit before Luccock’s delicious looping header from a Holmes centre sent the Robins delirious.

After the break Walker, Holmes and Morris all threatened to make it four and Shields welcomed the influential and authoritative midfielder Michael McKeown into the fray for only his second appearance of the season.

The Cumbrians though staged a late rally and John Grey was his side’s saviour with two headed clearances off the line in quick succession.

Bannon tipped a free kick behind but from the resultant corner Jamie Hope made space for himself on the edge of the box and unleashed a beauty into the net.

Incredibly it was 3-2 moments later as Hall tucked away the loose ball after Bannon had saved at full stretch.

The Shieldsmen though were in no mood to throw all their hard work away and with their dynamic pace up front twice caught the Cumbrians pushing up and two succulent finishes from the outstanding Morris completed the nap hand.

Shields assistant boss Andy Bowman declared afterwards: “We were ruthless in the first half and fully deserved to be in front. Late on we seemed to tire – the lads have been playing so many games recently and have had loads of knocks – but we came through our nervy period

“The league table doesn’t lie, we’ve played six of the top nine away from home, and are still up there.

“Credit to the players they work so hard making sure they are fully prepared in every game and they certainly appreciated the travelling support.”

North Shields: Bannon, Elliott, Grey, Richardson (Hook 88), Parker, Coppen, Luccock, Wrightson, Morris, Walker (McKeown 66), Holmes. Subs (not used): Turner, Livermore, Glen-Ravenhill.

On Saturday North Shields host Celtic Nation at the Daren Persson Stadium, kick off 3pm.