Substitute Dan Wilson scored the winner as North Shields showed their title credentials in edging out Consett on Wednesday evening.
Wilson netted in style just eight minutes after coming on as the Robins extended their lead at the top of the Northern League first division to 11 points.
The Steelman did all they could to knock the Robins off their perch, but Jon McDonald’s side dug deep and were rewarded
Windy conditions contributed to a scrappy opening 45 minutes, which is how Shields opened the scoring when Gary Ormston struck following a goalmouth scramble.
Consett hit back moments after the break as Michael Sweet netted an equaliser, but Wilson’s finish 12 minutes from time proved crucial.
It is now 502 days since the Robins last tasted a league defeat at the Morgue, but the side who inflicted that reverse visit the Darer Persson Stadium on Saturday – Shildon – for another big game as the season reaches a crucial stage.
For the visit of Consett, Robins captain Kevin Hughes was unavailable so Ormston stepped in to fill in as skipper for the night.
And after a few threatening efforts from Sweet, the tone was set for the game early on as Jack Donnison was clattered by Jordan Lavery in the build up as Ryan Carr flashed an effort off the visitors’ post.
Although referee Mark Ryan proceeded to book Lavery, tempers showed no signs of settling down.
Consett played a high line and often caught the Robins’ attack out. They also took time with dead ball situations, but Shields would begin to find some rhythm in the final five minutes of the first half.
On 41 minutes, Shaun Ryder cleared Michael McKeown’s looping cross off the line after the ball was caught in the wind.
McKeown was back in action moments later, this time supplying the corner that led to an untidy opener. Ormston supplied the killer touch in the 43rd minute on the goal line.
The visitors levelled just three minutes after the break as Sweet found the back of the net.
Shields keeper Kyle Hayes initially saved Hawkins’ effort, but the power on the effort meant he could only parry the shot and Sweet was alert on the follow-up to slide the ball home.
Consett could have taken the lead in the 54th minute, but Hayes rescued the home side by denyong Sweet in a one-on-one situation.
Shields boss McDonald brought Wilson on to lead the Robins’ attack and in the process, match Consett’s physical level with 20 minutes to go.
The introduction proved inspired and just eight minutes after coming on the former Dunston striker skilfully fired his side into the lead. It was another McKeown set-piece, the midfielder’s deflected free kick was parried back into the danger area by Coombe, allowing Wilson to confidently back heel the ball under the Consett number one.
And as far as tense finishes go, the Robins stuck together as a solid defensive unit to see the game out for a well-earned three points.