North Shields 3 Shildon AFC 1: Spectacular second half sees Robins run riot

Three second half goals from Connor Campbell, Paul Van Zandvliet and Gareth Bainbridge handed the Robins a deserved 3-1 victory over Shildon AFC.

After a goalless first half, the Robins fell behind early in the second after Zak Atkinson’s close range finish beat keeper Greg Purvis.

However, After Campbell had levelled the score, Van Zandvliet rose highest to head a Nick Cassidy corner into the back of the Shildon net.

And with minutes to spare, Bainbridge was on hand to convert a Cunningham cross at the far post, sealing the points in the process.

Shildon began the game brightly and after only two minutes, Atkinson and Nathan Steel linked up well, only to see the ball swiftly cleared to safety.

Shortly afterwards, in the ninth minute, Cassidy came within inches of  opening the scoring when his well struck freekick cannoned off the crossbar.

Straight up the other end and it was Atkinson who threatened to make the breakthrough, when his headed effort from a Robson cross flew wide.

However, as the weather began to deteriorate, the chances dried up as both teams struggled to deal with the wind and the rain.

It took until the 34th minute for the next chance for the hosts. Patton was causing the visiting fullbacks no end of trouble and after breaking past his marker, his effort on goal was saved by Bancroft.

With five minutes left until the break, Campbell came close to snatching the lead, only for Bancroft to smother the ball.

As the wind and rain got worse, so did the Robins’ luck as captain Adam Forster was forced off during the break with a shoulder injury.

Shildon were the quicker to settle into the game and in the 47th minute, they were awarded a freekick in a dangerous area, following an Ormston challenge. Thankfully for the Robins, the chance was wasted.

However, in the 53rd minute, the visitors took the lead when Atkinson collected the ball at the far post from a free kick before finishing smartly past Purvis.

The Robins were not behind for long as in the 53rd minute, a low Chris McDonald cross was met by Campbell, who slotted the ball past the diving Bancroft.

Campbell’s goal seemed to lift the Robins as in the 61st minute, a dangerous freekick taken by Cassidy needed to be tipped wide by the busy Shildon keeper.

Having made his debut on Saturday against West Auckland, Van Zandvliet was looking to impress on his first appearance at the DPS and in the 62nd minute, he did just that.

After having a headed effort fly inches over the bar in the first half, he went one better when he connected with a pin-point Cassidy corner to thunder the ball past the helpless Bancroft;  giving Shields the lead for the first time.

Lifted by a goal on his home debut, Van Zandvliet was at the centre of the action once again in the 68th minute, when he had another effort which drifted just the wrong side of the bar.

Conscious that one goal would bring them back into the game, Shildon kept pressing forwards and in the 72nd minute, a good flowing move resulted in Atkinson lofting a ball into the box. He found the head of Nathan Steel but the  attacker didn’t connect with the ball well and the effort was squandered.

Only minutes later, Atkinson should have really levelled the game when he beat the offside trap and was released through on goal. However, the in-form Purvis prevented the former Ashington attacker with a sensational block at the near post.

As the clock was running down, the visitors were beginning to throw more and more bodies forward in search of that all important equaliser. In the 89th minute, this cost them the game.

Having battled for the ball in the centre of the pitch, Van Zandvliet and Patton exchanged  passes before the former Bishop Auckland  winger spotted substitute Cam Cunningham bursting through on goal. Unselfishly, the youngster squared the ball to Bainbridge who finished well, under pressure, to help lift the Robins to seventh in the Division One table.