Holders North Shields made it through to the Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup Final with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Newcastle United U23s last night (9 February).
Match report by Mark Carruthers (Editor of NonLeagueDaily)
The Magpies fielded five players with first-team experience but were dumped out of the competition by the Northern League leaders.
On a bitterly cold night on North Tyneside it was the Robins that started on top at the Darren Perrson Stadium, with Ryan Carr giving them the lead in the seventh minute.
A corner from the left caused problems for Magpies keeper Nathan Harker and when he dropped the cross, Carr was able to force the ball over the line, much to delight of the Robins faithful.
Slovenian international Haris Vuckic could and should have put Peter Beardsley's side on level terms on the half-hour mark as he raced through on goal after a sublime pass from Dan Barlaser.
Vuckic took several touches to compose himself before rounding keeper Kyle Hayes although hesitated with the goal at his mercy and that allowed the Robins number one to get back and force the ball out of play.
The hosts hit back and only a fine challenge from Stuart Findlay denied the in-form Lee Mason from giving the Robins a two-goal lead.
On the brink of half time Mason was at it again, as he raced on to a weak pass from a Magpies player, before turning Findley inside-out. However the former Whitby Town man, who has twenty six Northern League goals to his name this season, shot wildly over over the bar.
The Magpies youngsters came out for the second half looking keen to make amends for a lacklustre showing in the previous forty five minutes, although could have found themselves two goals down just four minutes into the half.
A lovely five man move involving Dean Holmes, Lee Mason and Gary Ormston cut through the United defence. It allowed Craig McFarlane to race on to a pass on the right hand side of the visitors area, but he could only send a vicious shot wide of the near post.
That miss was duly punished minutes later as Vuckic made amends for his earlier miss.
Collecting a pass inside the Robins area, the tall Slovenian took one touch and turned to fire past Hayes and into the far corner of the net.
Enthused by their equaliser the Magpies had plenty of possession and, although they never really threatened to take the lead, they did make their Northern League opponents work hard.
The Robins were up for that challenge and could have sneaked a win in normal time when substitute Gareth Bainbridge found himself in on goal just minutes from full time.
The alert goalkeeping of Nathan Harker was enough to send the tie into extra time, as he stayed big and blocked Bainbridge's effort with his chest.
The Magpies fitness was starting to show in extra time and North Shields were grateful for the excellent goalkeeping of Hayes, as he denied United winger Yasin El-Mhanni with a smart stop.
The winger, who made his first team debut against Birmingham City last month, cut inside Jack Donnison before firing an effort that looked destined for the inside of Hayes' far post.
However the North Shields number one dived full-length to tip the shot away to safety, before denying substitute Lewis McNall moments later.
With their limbs clearly weary, it says a lot for the mental strength of the Robins that they were able to keep the Magpies at bay during extra time.
It took penalties to separate the two sides and North Shields wasted a chance to win the game in the shoot-out.
A miss from United's Spanish youngster Victor Fernandez have Jordan Summerly a chance to send the Robins into the final.
However his spot kick was well saved by Magpies keeper Harker.
With every player on the pitch taking a spot kick, the two sides were still level.
Newcastle captain Jack Hunter stepped up to take his second kick of the shoot-out, but Hayes was able to parry it away from goal, giving Gary Ormston the chance to settle the tie.
The former Dunston UTS midfielder calmly sent his penalty to Harker's left and despite the Magpies keeper diving the right way, he was unable to keep it out of the net.
The celebrations began, with Robins coaches, players and supporters embracing each other, as they set their eyes on retaining the TechFlow Group Northumberland Senior Cup.
Their opponents will be the winners of next week's semi-final between Blyth Town and Blyth Spartans, meaning a repeat of last year's epic final between the Robins and Spartans is still a possibility.
Although Blyth Town will have something to say about that as they prepare to host a historic tie for the town next week.
North Shields: Hayes, Donnison, Lancaster (Summerly), Forster (McKeown), Coppen, Hughes, McFarlane, Ormston, Carr, Mason (Bainbridge), D.Holmes.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Brooking.
Goals: Carr 7
Yellow Cards: McKeown, Ormston, Hayes
Red Cards: None
Newcastle United U23s: Harker, Williams, Good, Findlay, Gibson (Bailey), Hunter, Barlaser, J.Holmes (Fernandez), Ward (McNall), El-Mhanni, Vuckic.
Subs Not Used: B.Smith, M.Longstaff.
Goals: Vuckic 49
Yellow Cards: El-Mhanni
Red Cards: None