NORTH Shields FC were denied progress in the FA Cup at the first attempt by an 88th minute header which cancelled out Ross Atkinson’s early opener at Penrith.
Shields, on top in the first period against their higher division hosts, sat back somewhat after the break content to soak up ever-increasing pressure.
It nearly succeeded, but the Shieldsmen were happy enough in the end to bring the Cumbrians back to Tyneside for a reply scheduled to be played last night (Wednesday) as, throughout a generous amount of stoppage time played, there looked to be only one winner.
Anthony Woodhouse’s men travelled without defender Jonathan Hall and midfielder Phil Cartwright but centre half Dan Bowlt, signed from New Hartley, came in for his competitive debut whilst Joe Elliott, voted man of the match in his side’s two previous games, had to be content with a place on the bench this time round.
Shields started with conviction and, after Stewart Wright had headed a James Luccock corner over the bar, Atkinson powerfully nodded in a Mark Rasmussen free kick, putting the visitors firmly in the driving seat.
Paul Watson, who scored the Robins goal from the penalty spot the last time the two sides met, almost caught out home custodian James Holland following a hurried clearance, then Luccock latched onto a long punt upfield but Bowlt which caught out the home rearguard but his chip just cleared the bar.
Penrith manager John Clasper, a former North Shields midfielder, introduced his son Tim from the bench, then watched as his side mustered their first attempt on goal in the 26th minute with Ryan Beal saving comfortably from Grant Davidson.
Warning signs for Woodhouse’s men, though, were appearing as the half wore on and, following a short corner, Phil Thornton’s header came back off the bar.
Then Beal did well to block from Will Paul, who ballooned the rebound well over.
Before the turnaround a Rasmussen set-piece took a flick off a defender almost into the path of Stewart Wright at the far post, and the Robins tropped off happy with their first half exertions.
Front-runners Wright and Keith Douglas were replaced by sole stiker Andy Hay for the remaining period, supplemented by the occasional surge up the flank from Luccock.
It was largely one-way traffic as the clock ticked over, Beal holding on to a low drive from Dan Robinson then keeping out Thornton’s effort bravely with his legs after the centre half had weaved clear and looked a certain scorer.
The Robins heroes were all at the back, with man of the match Bowlt superbly denying Ben Jackson and Kevin Hughes, Danny Patterson and Atkinson, all in the thick of the action.
Shields were finally caught out when Sean Elliott’s header following a corner flew into the top corner, meaning the two must try again to determine which will entertain Billingham Synthonia in the next round.
North Shields: Beal, Douglas (Hay 64), S Wright (Arnot 62), Luccock, Watson, Rasmussen, Hughes, Bowlt, Patterson, Livermore (Harris 75), Atkinson, Subs not used: Deighton, Elliott, A Wright, Grey.
North Shields host Morpeth Town on Friday night, kick-off 7.30pm.