Two goals in the last ten minutes give Ashington their first win in seven games; punishing the Robins for wasting multiple chances.
An early strike from Ryan Carr, on his 200th appearance for the club, gave the Robins a deserved half time lead.
This advantage could have been greater but a number of chances were missed when the Robins were on top.
However, two goals in the final 15 minutes, from Daniel Anderson and Jamie Hanson gave the Colliers their first win in seven games.
On the back of their win over Consett, the Robins started brightly and in the sixth minute, a brilliant delivery from Nick Cassidy found Connor Campbell in the box, but the young striker could only put the ball agonizingly wide.
A minute later and the hosts registered their first chance of the game through Anderson, with the winger sending his shot well wide of Purvis’ goal.
A freekick taken by Cassidy in the 14th minute met the head of Scott McCarthy but the former Newcastle Benfield attacker misdirected his header over the bar.
Despite being under the cosh, Ashington were creating opportunities of their own and in the 16th minute, they took advantage of a high line, with Marc Lancaster picking out Dylan Williamson with a pass. The resulting shot was excellently tipped wide by the Robins shot-stopper.
The visitors made the hosts pay for that miss as only one minute later, a fine delivery from McCarthy found Carr on the edge of the six yard box, with the double centurion thumping the ball into the back of the net.
With others unavailable, Cam Cunningham was making his first start of the season and in the 22nd minute, after working himself into plenty of space, he fed the ball through to McCarthy who fired over the crossbar.
There were plenty of familiar faces in the Ashington line up and one of them, Ben Sampson, forced Purvis into a smart save in the 29th minute, following a powerful shot.
Another former Robin, Dan Taggart, was the next Collier to try his luck against Purvis, but this time, his shot, in the 37th minute, was misdirected and bobbled wide.
Ashington were struggling to deal with the pace of Cunningham and shortly before the half time break, another great ball into the box found Carr, only for the midfielder to direct the ball over the crossbar.
Shields started the second half brightly and in the 51st minute, some good play from fullback Chris McDonald allowed McCarthy another chance at goal, with McHugh’s excellent save the only thing denying a second goal for the visitors.
Four minutes later, the hosts were lucky not to have gone down to ten men. After the Ashington keeper made an error under pressure from Campbell, McHugh proceeded to impede the striker before he fell to the ground.
Despite denying a goalscoring opportunity, the referee only brandished a yellow card.
This stroke of luck seemed to awaken the hosts and in the 59th minute, striker Damien Stevens forced Purvis into another fine save before firing the rebound over the bar.
The game slowed down as both teams made a flurry of substitutions and it was one of these changes which almost doubled the Robins lead.
In the 74th minute, another brilliant piece of play from Cunningham released Gareth Bainbridge through on goal. After McHugh made a smart save at the strikers feet, the linesman judged Bainbridge to have strayed offside and raised his flag.
With ten minutes left on the clock, the Colliers found themselves level with the Robins when Anderson fired his low shot through a sea of legs and into the back of the net, to the delight of the home supporters.
They were given even more reason the cheer four minutes later when they took the lead for the first time in the game.
Having been brought on moments earlier, Hanson positioned himself well on the edge of the box in the 83rd minute and when the ball found its way to him, he hammered a powerful shot past the outstretched hand of Purvis.
Despite having dominated large spells of the game, the Robins were punished for not converting their chances as the referee brought the game to an end.
Ashington Starting Eleven: Adam McHugh, Ben Sampson (Thomas Kalthoeber 54), Marc Lancaster, Karl Ross (James Hanson 71), Stephen Gibson, Curtis Coppen (c), Dylan Williamson, David Luke, Damien Stevens (Ian Herron 86), Daniel Taggart, Dan Anderson
Unused Substitutes: Gavin Caines, Daniel O’Reilly
North Shields Starting Eleven: Greg Purvis, Nick Cassidy, Chris McDonald, Gary Ormston, Paul New, Wayne Buchanan, Cam Cunningham, Adam Forster (c), Connor Campbell (Gareth Bainbridge 66), Ryan Carr, Scott McCarthy (Denver Morris 63)
Unused Substitutes: Ben Christensen, Ben Gaffney, James Peart