Shields taken to extra time in cup thriller

NORTH Shields triumphed in a gripping Northern League Cup tie over Morpeth Town, but it took extra time before they could book their passage into round two.

Both sides served up some breathtaking fare to warm the crowd but, even though the Shieldsmen twice had to come from behind, had they shown more composure in front of goal they could have had the match sewn up at the end of 90 minutes.

It was Graham Fenton’s lads’ first win on home soil this campaign.

The win sees them entertaining either second division colleagues Horden CW or Darlington RA at the next round.

The Robins and Nicky Gray’s Morpeth team had drawn 1-1 at the Daren Persson Stadium a month earlier.

Shields had to frantically re-shuffle prior to kick-off with keeper Michael Robinson hurt in the warm-up, deputy custodian Sean McCafferty stepped up to don the gloves whilst new striker Rob Nolan was named on the bench.

As the game unfolded the visitors were kept in check by some firm tackling from Shields’ centre back pairing of James Harmison and Joe Elliott whilst, despite being up against former Robins player of the year Dave Hiftle, Stewart Wright led the front line admirably.

It was Wright who was first to threaten with a shot that flew inches wide, but the amber and blacks responded with Liam Vaughan’s low drive testing McCafferty.

Seventeen minutes in the Craik Park outfit took the lead when Chris Lunn’s shot was only parried by McCafferty and Reece Darwent pounced to slot home the loose ball.

Shields upped the tempo and after David Hogg blocked from Wright, watched Harmison nod a corner just over and be grateful that Dean Holmes’ goalbound effort took a deflection, the hosts equalised on the half hour mark.

Harmison won possession before picking out Wright, who in turn found Holmes, the ball falling to Keith Douglas who jubilantly blasted into the roof of the net.

That was no more than the Shieldsmen deserved but Morpeth regained the advantage against the run of play.

It was a crisp strike by centre forward Howes but before the turnaround Holmes was upended in the area and up stepped the Shields number 11 to restore parity from the spot.

The second period saw Morpeth keeper Hogg yellow-carded for a foul on Wright before he touched aside a Nolan chip.

Following a Ben Richardson corner, Harmison nodded on but Nolan, introduced after the break, headed wide.

At the other end McCafferty spectacularly tipped behind a fierce Darwent drive.

Hogg kept out a rasping Holmes shot then McCafferty bravely dived at the feet of Howes.

Wright headed a flag kick over and Nolan was thwarted by the outstretched leg of Hogg.

Substitute Adam Rowntree went close in the first period of extra time.

Penalties were only eight minutes away before the Robins eventually made their possession count.

Wright was clattered by Hogg as he charged through on goal, the keeper received a second yellow card and, as Howes, took over between the posts, he was immediately picking the ball out of the back of the net as Richardson hammered in the resultant free kick.

Nolan then tucked away the fourth after being set up by Rowntree and the Robins were home and dry.

North Shields head to Esh Winning on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Late last season the Robins came away 2-0 victors from the Waterhouses Ground in what was Fenton’s first game as manager of the club.