Just as the contest was to get underway the heavens opened and the thunder and lightning filled the skies.
The hosts got the game underway and started on the attack immediately but it was the Robins who had the ball in the net, within the first seconds when Brad Hird was played through and slotted home, only to be denied by the offside flag.
GOAL 7’ – Nathan Mulligan, 1-0
GOAL 9’ – Elliot Beddow 2-0
The hosts then delivered two lightning strikes of their own, scoring directly from a freekick in the 7th minute via Nathan Mulligan, then carving a way through the Robins defense and Elliot Beddow firing home in the 9th minute.
The Robins finding themselves 2-0 down with less than 10 minutes on the traveling support fearing the worst, Shields came to life and took the game to Stockton.
Almost pulling one back immediately after Cam Cunningham, crossed into the six yard box, only to be cleared for a throw-in.
As Shields’ attacking play continued, so did the downpour and the thunder and lightning.
Cunningham once again involved, sprayed a ball to Regan Paterson, who cut back through the crowd, which picked out Stephen Forster, who fizzed an effort just the wrong side of the post.
Good interlinking passing movement between Paul van Zandvleit and Regan Paterson, forced a corner for the Robins.
Cam Cunningham thought he had pulled a goal back, after good footwork created space for him to move into and fire an effort just wide of the post,a,,,./’/.
Paul Van Zandvleit won a freekick, which was curled right footed, bound for the top corner, only to be denied by Stockton’s Callum Roberts at full stretch.
Another chance for the Robins as Callum Roberts was called into action to deny Brad Hird as he turned and shot from inside the area.
GOAL 31’ – Regan Paterson, 2-1
cut it back to Paterson who fired through the crowd to pull one back.
With 15 minutes or so left until half time, Shields went in search of a second to pull them level at the break.
Shields were having lots of success, getting in behind Stockton’s back line, going down both flanks to work a way into the 18 yard box.
Stephen Forster went on a run down the right hand, skipping past a couple of cut it back to David Robinson, who fired but denied by Roberts.
GOAL 45’ – Mikey Roberts, 3-1
On the stroke of half-time and shields punishing forward, Stockton hit on the counter and delivered their first sucker punch of the night, Mikey Roberts keeping his cool to slot home and extend the home side’s lead.
Half time came and Shields found themselves on the wrong end of a two goal deficit, despite having more of the possession and creating more clear cut chances, only to be missing the decisive touch when required.
As the teams came out for the second half, the rain started to ease and the Robins restarted the action and immediately went on the attack.
Connoer Oliver caused Roberts to thumble an effort from 20 yards but no Shields player close enough to capitalize.
Stockton sat deep, looking to hit on the break, they had an effort to extend their lead, with an effort from distance, which was always rising.
Shields commanded the game and looked the more likely to score as the half wore on.
Dan Turner replaced the hard working Brad Hird.
Cam Cunningham was on the end of a professional foul as Shields tried to break from deep in their own half.
Shields’ constant pressure forced a corner but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Connor Oliver then tried another effort from outside the area, this time curling an effort just over the bar.
GOAL 80’ Regan Paterson, 3-2
Goal of the season contender!!!
With 10 minutes left, Cunningham caused more issues for the home side’s defense, skipping past two players, before pinging a cross field ball to Paterson, who hit it first time out of the air, beyond Roberts leaving him stranded to his spot.
Game on and the Shields support, helping to push the lads in search of a third, which would mean Shields went home with an unlikely point after the first ten minutes, went out on the attack.
The game opened up and spaces appeared at the back as Shields continued to attack and look for a leveler.
Stockton thought they had added a fourth, only to be denied by the offside flag.
GOAL 83’ Kevin Hayes, 4-2
Stockton Town broke again, a through ball down the middle of the pitch, played in Kevin Hayes, who slotted home to add a fourth and take the wind out of the Robins’ sails.
With just a few minutes left on the clock and in need of two goals to get level, Shields battled on to the final whistle but were unable to muster up any more real chances.
Despite defeat to the league leaders, a lot of positives from the performance and Marc Nash will have felt that based on the performance after going two goals down, the Robins should have come away from the game with more.
The Robins attention moves to FA Trophy action on Saturday, when they host Pontefract Collieries in the First Qualifying Round with a 3pm kick off.