Robins save their best to last game of the season

NORTH Shields signed off their season in style with six of the best to thump Teesside outfit Thornaby.

The Robins left it until the final match to notch their highest tally of the campaign, they previously put five past Ryton and Crawcrook Albion both home and away and also against Darlington RA.

It also represented a 13th clean sheet for the Shieldsmen, keeper Ryan Beal was celebrating a first victory when donning the gloves, and the Robins again boasting a mean defence yielding just 51 goals in 42 league outings, a record only bettered by champions Team Northumbria.

James Luccock drove in his side’s sixth at Teesdale Park in the 89th minute and that strike boosted Shields up to eighth position in the table, above Northallerton Town, by one goal on goal difference.

The Robins were rampant from the off, playing fluent football to which the hosts had no answer.

Graham Fenton’s men had already gone close through a Paul Dunn free kick when Dean Holmes cut in to feed Adam Rowntree, whose stinging drive was helped into the net by home custodian Marc Briggs.

It was 2-0 four minutes on as Keith Douglas nodded in a Luccock corner, a 16th goal of the season for the Shields skipper.

Thornaby countered with a couple of probings of their own but David Turner headed over, Beal did well to tip an effort onto the woodwork whilst Gary Mitchell miscued when well placed.

The Tynesiders, though, continued to carve open their opponents with panache and, when Holmes cleverly chipped over the keeper, Rowntree’s finish was frantically blocked by a defender on the line.

Shields did add a third on the half hour as Holmes raced clear only to be upended by Briggs, the keeper fortunate just to receive a yellow card.

Holmes took the resultant spot kick himself and calmly tucked in his 15th for the club.

The hosts held on till half-time without conceding further with Briggs saving at full strength from Holmes, Luccock’s neat turn and shot flashing inches past the upright and central defender Danny Bowlt heading just wide.

One minute after the turnaround, however, came goal number four, Briggs initially thwarting Holmes but was then left helpless as the Shields striker delicately lobbed home the loose ball and he too was now on 16.

An over-worked Briggs blocked from Holmes, Bowlt struck the bar with a header and Andy Hay then wriggled into the area to create mayhem in the home ranks.

With 20 minutes remaining and a tie for the Golden Boot, Holmes accepted the decision to substitute him, though hinted that perhaps Douglas, too, was in need of a rest.

In the remaining time Douglas had claims that another effort had crossed the line but there was no denying Danny Patterson in the 86th minute when he surged forward to unleash an absolute screamer that beat Briggs all ends up to nestle sweetly in the back of the net.

That was a first strike for left back Patterson, last season’s player of the year, this term and what a corker, but Shields were not quite finished and, when, Patterson and John Grey combined, there was Luccock to slot home the sixth with aplomb.

North Shields: Beal, Baistow, Patterson, Dunn, Bowlt, Hughes, Luccock, Watson (Rasmussen 75 mins), Douglas, Rowntree (Grey 55 mins), Holmes (Hay 70 mins). Subs not used: Forster, Robinson.