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 Adam Nicholson and Joe Carter and Michael Arthur got a run in goal. It was a bitterly cold night and the few hardy souls were hoping to be warmed up by a thrilling game.
North Shields dominated the opening minutes as Stockton looked like they were a bunch of strangers. Arthur saved from Bainbridge after 6 mins and Shields deservedly took the lead after 10 minutes through <strong>MASON</strong> who finished powerfully after a couple of blocked shots saw the ball fall to him 12 yards out. Almost from rhe restart The Robins were back in Stockton’s penalty area and Wilson shot across Arthur only to see Craggs make a terrific goal line clearance. Bainbridge had a further chance just 3 minutes later but his cross shot trickled past the far upright. Stockton re-organised and at least started to repel some of the attacks which gained them a little momentum however the passing further forward wasn’t quite accurate enough but the half finished with both sides just about matching each other.
The Anchors were a lot better second half but Shields had the first real chance when Arthur made a smart tip over save from Masons shot. The Anchors were trying to press for an equaliser and one came on 57mins when Max Craggs left in space worked the ball onto his unfavoured left foot and shot from 25 yards, Robins keeper McCafferty didn’t deal with the awkward bounce and Jamie <strong>OWENS</strong> was first on the scene to clatter home the rebound. Stockton wee now enjoying more posesion than their opponents but without creing anything although they had almosr stemmed the flow of Shields attcks. Dale Mulligan just headed wide from a corner and the Shields poor marking from set pieces would cost them later in the tie. As the game went on Stockton began to get on top a little and a Craggs crossfield ball inside the full back left Sonni Coleman bearing in on goal but from a tight angle on a muddy pitch he couldn’t get a good contact on his effort and the keeper saved. With the match heading towards penalties Stockton snatched the win when Adam <strong>NICHOLSON</strong>, with a free run at it, met a 90th min Craggs corner kick and headed it downwards powerfully into the ground with McCafferty surprised by the pace on the ball he could only help it into the roof of the net to herald celebrations for the returning skipper and the hardy but frozen stiff away supporters. There was no time for the Robins to get back into it. A great result for the Anchors on the road at a top side.
A great response from the whole squad after Saturdays disappointing result and it could have been so different had they not hung on by their fingernails during the opening burst from Shields. MoM because of his influence in that period and subsequently leading from the back with strength and determination was Dale Mulligan.