Michael Dunwell was down to the bare bones tonight which wasn’t the best preparation for a League Cup game against a top side like North Shields. N Mulligan and Hayes are still suspended, Tom Coulthard and Fred Woodhouse sat out with knocks from the weekend and Chris Stockton was nursing a sore groin.In came Captain Adam Nicholson and Joe Carter with Michael Arthur getting a run in goal. It was a bitterly cold night and the hardy souls that travelled up from Teesside were hoping to be warmed up by a thrilling game.
North Shields dominated the opening minutes 20 minutes but were given all the time and space they required to pass the ball around. Arthur made a good stop from Bainbridge on 6 mins and a minute later Forster fired over when he should have done better. Shields took the lead after 10 minutes through MASON who finished with authority after a pinball around the box. Shields continued to dominate and the next minute saw Wilson in acres of space fire a shot past Arthur only for Dale Mulligan to clear it off the line brilliantly. Bainbridge worked a shooting position on the left edge of the box but dragged it just wide of the far post as Stocktons goal led a charmed life. The Anchors made an organisational change and eventually it started to work and they managed to stem the tide and actually make inroads into North Shields part of the pitch and they finished the half on the up.
Not for the first time this season the Anchors were a lot better second half and the Managers words were obviously ringing in their ears as they set about getting into this game which started with putting the Shields players under pressure on the ball and slowly got the upper hand. An equaliser came on 57mins when Max Craggs worked an opening and shot with his left foot from 25 yards, Shields keeper McCafferty made a decent save but couldn’t hold it and Jamie OWENS as all top strikers do, was quick to react and fired it home. Both sides had chances to win the game, Stockton were defending much better and much higher up and restricted Shields to long shots. The Anchors grew with confidence as the game went on and began to push Shields back with lots of possession and created 3 great opportunities the best falling to Sonni Coleman who worked the keeper from a tight angle but lacked the power needed in his shot. With everyone preparing for A Michael Arthur penalty shoot out masterclass again Stockton grabbed the winner in the 90th minute when skipper Adam NICHOLSON struggling with cramp, dragged himself forward to rise unmarked and meet Max Craggs corner kick the effort was down into the ground and the bounce caught our McCafferty who got a hand to it, but could only push it into the roof of the net. The players and the fans celebrated as you expect a last minute winner to be. A great moment for the Centre Back still working towards full fitness. The advantage of a late goal, which is becoming a regular thing now for the Anchors is you don’t have long to hold on.
The manager was probably alarmed by the first 20minutes but must be delighted with not only the response this evening but to the attitude of the players after Saturdays defeat. Dale Mulligan gets my nod for MoM he was strong and determined all night and in no mood to get beat again which seemed to spread through the team as the game wore on, Joe Carter did a great job in a more central role for him and everyone played their part last half n hour.