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Newcastle University 3 North Shields 4: Shields survive second half comeback to secure top spot in Group A

North Shields survived a second half comeback to beat Division Two Newcastle University 4-3; securing top spot in Group A of the Northern League Cup.

An early Connor Campbell strike was cancelled out by Noah Neill, before strikes from Kyle Patton and Cam Cunningham gave the Robins a 3-1 half time lead.

The Uni pulled one back late in the game through Niza Chilufya to make it 3-2, but a second Cam Cunningham strike with five minutes to spare restored the two-goal advantage.

And despite a goal right at the death for the hosts, the Robins were able to hold on for the win which secures first place in the group.

The Robins looked to gain an advantage early on and almost had the perfect start when Campbell was picked out inside the penalty area with a pin-point cross. Unfortunately, his mistimed header flew well wide of the upright.

Thankfully, in the tenth minute, the young striker went one better when a well-placed cross from Nick Cassidy met the head of the former Heaton Stannington forward, with the ball deflecting past the Uni keeper to give the Robins the lead.

Having dominated the early proceedings, the Robins soon found themselves pegged back when Noah Neill capitalised on a poor clearance, in the 14th minute, to hammer his effort into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the six yard box.

Looking to regain their lead, the visitors pressed forwards and in the 18th minute, a low drive from Patton on the angle was well collected by Uni keeper Harrison Avery.

Shields’ dominance was soon repaid as in the 21st minute, they regained the lead. A great piece of vision from Paul Robinson picked out Patton in acres of space, with the young winger firing his shot in off the bottom of the post.

With a victory needed to secure first place in Group A, the visitors were not letting up on their Division Two opponents. In the 30th minute, a powerful drive from Cunningham forced Avery to parry the ball straight into the path of Campbell, only for the striker to fire his shot against the post with the goalmouth gaping.

In the 43rd minute, the Robins really should have doubled their lead when Cunningham picked out Robinson on the corner of the six yard box, but the midfielder flashed his shot across the face of goal.

However, with only moments before the break, Shields’ lead was doubled when a smart turn from Patton, in the penalty area, picked out Cunningham in the centre of the box, with the youngster rising above his marker to power his header into the back of the net.

At the start of the second half, the Robins took the game out of sight when a swirling freekick found Cunningham at the back post, with the youngster’s first time shot cannoning off the keeper before being cleared.

Then moments later, Campbell should have done better with a chance, after being played through on goal, when he sliced his close range shot straight into the side netting.

Shields were starting to have their way with the Uni defence and in the 51st minute, Patton’s fierce drive narrowly missed the bottom corner of the net.

Despite being under pressure for large spells of the game, the Uni were able to claw a goal back in the 78th minute. Substitute Niza Chilufya hammered home from close range after the Robin’s defence failed to deal with a dangerous cross.

With nothing to play for but pride, the Uni were in search of their first point of their League Cup campaign. However, in the 86th minute, Cunningham restored the Robin’s two-goal lead when a low shot from the edge of the area beat the outstretched hand of Avery before nestling into the bottom corner.

With seconds remaining, the Uni were able to add a third to their tally when Will Christophers bundled the ball home from close range. Despite the linesman raising his flag, the referee overruled him and allowed the goal to stand.

Newcastle University Starting Eleven: Harrison Avery, Adam Redford, Jonathan Bennett, Will Christopher, Liam Atkin, Jake Dutton (c), Noah Neill, Theo Pizzaro, Lee Scott, Keith Douglas, Josh Hammett

Substitutes Bench: Samuel Breakwell, Bailey Hunter, Robbie Christie, Timmy Browne, Niza Chilufya

North Shields Starting Lineup: Greg Purvis, Ben Christensen, Chris McDonald, Nick Cassidy, Paul New, Gary Ormston, Cam Cunningham, Paul Robinson, Connor Campbell, Ryan Carr (c), Kyle Patton

Substitutes Bench: Chris Salmon, Scott McCarthy, Marc Jacques, Jordan Summerly, Bradley Skirpan