The reigning champions may now be mathematically unable to defend their trophy, but the Railwaymen showed on Saturday (25th March) that they still have a big say in the final destination of this season’s title race with a 2-0 defeat of league leaders North Shields at Dean Street.
Shildon took the lead on the stroke of half time when a penalty award also resulted in a second yellow card for Shields defender, Michael McKeown.
Matty Robson despatched the spot kick, leaving the visitors with a double half time deficit of a goal and a player down.
North Shields almost took the lead in the eighth minute when Dan Wilson’s shot rebounded off the Shildon upright, but from then the champions dominated, determined to show they were not only the current holders, but that they still have much to contribute to this season’s competition.
Shildon dominated the play for the whole of the second half. On 49 minutes Adam Burnicle should have scored while Sam Hodgson, Micky Rae and Billy Greulich-Smith all went close.
With ten minutes remaining, Adam Burnicle fired into the bottom corner to make the result safe and blow the title race between the North and South Shields rivals wide open.
The defeat brought to a halt a 15-match winning run in the league and brings the leaders into the sights of their local and main title rivals, who are themselves on a lengthy winning run of 27 matches in all competitions.
Shildon, meanwhile, have slipped to fourth in the table after Morpeth’s 4-2 away win at Consett on Tuesday 28th March.
Morpeth are the only other side still capable of replacing Shildon as champions and with the top three still to play each other it remains to be seen whether the
Highwaymen can steal the title from under the noses of the Shields clubs.
The Railwaymen will be mathematically guaranteed fourth spot – their most likely finishing position in this season’s competition – should they defeat 16th placed Penrith, who visit Dean Street on Thursday 30th March.