North Shields’ title hopes took a battering with a heavy defeat away at Dunston.
In a season of many more ups than downs for the Robins, this game fell firmly in the latter category as title hopes now look out of reach.
Still a top four position is imminent and though Graham Fenton’s lads displayed their usual spirit and drive this was one to forget.
After hitting Bedlington for four just days earlier and after a goalless first period Shields could scarcely have imagined the final scoreline.
Fenton rotated his squad and incredibly the Robins had gone a staggering 661 minutes without conceding a goal until Dunston’s Dale Burrell scrambled home following a corner just after the turnaround.
The first half had been tense and tight as anticipated with Gareth Bainbridge unable to add to his 102 goal tally following a couple of half chances whilst at the other end Chris Bannon made a superb one handed save to keep out a Gary Ormston header.
Fans thought the second half would be more of the same, nip and tuck but with Shields left chasing the game they leaked three more times.
Ormston made it 2-0 then a fine run and finish from Andrew Bulford made the points safe for the hosts.
Plenty of effort but no end product summed up the afternoon with Lee McAndrew adding a fourth in stoppage time.
North Shields: Bannon, Donnison (Elliott 65), Grey, McKeown, Parker, Coppen, Morris, Forster (Wrightson 72), Bainbridge, Carr, Luccock (Holmes 46). Subs (not used) Hughes, Richardson.
Shields complete their home fixtures against Morpeth midweek and travel to Sunderland RCA, scene of their FA Vase 3-0 victory back in November, on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Ahead of their Wembley experience the Shieldsmen wind up their League campaign at Celtic Nation on Tuesday, April 28 (7.45 kick off).