After several months without being able to play the beautiful game, the Robins make their long-awaited return to action this weekend when they welcome Ryton & Crawcrook Albion to the Daren Persson Stadium in a behind closed doors friendly.
Shields have been without first team action since our 3-2 defeat to Hebburn Town at the Green Energy Sports Ground in the second round of the FA Vase on December 12, 2020.
On that occasion, Marc Nash’s men found themselves a goal down after Louis Storey headed a deeply swung free-kick in at the far post after 18 minutes of play.
Shields levelled the game shortly before the half time break, when Ryan Carr’s thunderbolt from outside the penalty area fizzed into the top corner of the net, past Hornets’ ‘keeper Mark Foden.
A slow start to the second half cost the Robins when Michael Richardson was played through on goal, with the former Blyth Spartans midfielder firing low into the bottom corner.
Things went from bad to worse for the Robins when in the 56th minute, Graeme Armstrong added a third, turning the ball home from close range, following another effort on goal from Cedwyn Scott.
Callum Smith’s goal with ten minutes remaining gave Shields a fighting chance, but they were unable to complete the comeback as Hebburn progressed to the next round, where they were to face Vauxhall Motors.
Our opponents on Saturday will be entering this game under new leadership, after the previous management duo of Mark Bullock and Conor Jennings departed Kingsley Park.
With new head coach Dan Iredale, a former RACA player who enjoyed a successful 3-year stint as head coach of Northern Football Alliance Premier Division side Cullercoats, Ryton will be looking to replicate the kind of form that saw the club flirting with promotion to Northern League Division One during the 2019/20 season.
Last season proved to be a more difficult year for the club, having sat in sixth the previous year before the league was voided due to the Covid-19 crisis. A record of three wins, three draws and eight losses saw Ryton placed 16th, only four points ahead of Washington in the relegation zone, before the season was cancelled for the second successive year.
In their last game of the 2020/21 campaign, doubles from Scott Gunn and Scott Jasper, as well as a solo effort from Matt Law saw RACA secure a vital 5-1 win over Washington at Kingsley Park.
Last time we met
The last time North Shields & Ryton & Crawcrook Albion met was during the 2019/20 season in the last 16 of the Northern League Cup. On that occasion, the Robins raced ahead to a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Kyle Patton and Ryan Carr.
However, under the leadership of Tony Fawcett, now the first team manager at Whitley Bay, RACA were able to perform an impressive comeback, with a quickfire double from Sam Norris levelling the score.
But with minutes remaining, Robins striker Scott McCarthy got on the end of a Nick Cassidy free-kick to fire the ball past David Hansen from inside the penalty area, securing a tie with West Allotment Celtic in the Quarter-Finals.
You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below.
Over the course of history, both North Shields and Ryton & Crawcrook Albion have faced one another a total of 14 times, with the Robins winning 10 times, drawing once, and losing just three times. From those games, Shields have scored a total of 42 goals, while conceding only 20.
The last time we fell to a defeat at the hands of RACA was all the way back in 2008 when on February 5 of that year, we lost at home 2-0.
Unfortunately, due to current government restrictions, this game will be played behind closed doors. We will try our best to keep you updated during the game through our official social media channels.
There will also be an extended highlights that will be produced and uploaded to YouTube a day or two after the game.