Champions complete campaign with win

Defending Northern League champions Shildon officially relinquished their crown as the final round of Northern League games took place on Saturday 22nd April.

Disappointed as they will be with the season’s outcome, Shildon manager, Daniel ‘Bobby’ Moore, was pleased that his side finished the season on top of the form table, winning five and drawing one of their final six matches: “Now that the season has ended, we can look to the future,” he said. “Since losing to South Shields in the League Cup, our form has been excellent considering there was nothing really to play for”.

The Railwaymen lost their long-term management duo of Gary Forrest and Stuart Niven in early January after a disappointing exit from the FA Vase led to acrimony over the transfer of star player, David Ferguson.

Club captain Moore took over and, after mixed results undoubtedly affected by the unexpected changes, the side finished the season well and were able to sign most of the squad for next season, a notable exception being this season’s top performer, Lewis Wing, who has been rewarded with a full-time contract at Middlesbrough.

Recent changes at Saturday’s opponents meant Shildon were up against familiar faces in the home dugout – Forrest and Niven having been announced in the days prior to the game as West Auckland’s new managerial team.

After an uneventful start to the game, West took the lead on 17 minutes when Ibrahim Hassan’s powerful header from a Ross David Gardner corner gave keeper Nick Liversedge no chance.

Thereafter, however, it was one way traffic as Shildon took control of the game, looking for the equaliser.

But although they passed the ball around, they never really troubled the keeper.

Bobby Moore came on after the break to liven things up, and just after the hour he fired just over.

It was all Shildon and their pressure finally paid off with nine minutes remaining when a long ball from Lewis Wing put ex-West Auckland player Adam Burnicle through for the equaliser.

Shildon rained down on the West goal searching for the winner, and with four minutes remaining, Matty Robson was brought down in the box for a penalty.

Picking himself up, he scored from the spot kick to rescue a late win for the Railwayman in their final game as reigning champions.

An encouraged Moore said: “All the players we wanted to keep have signed on for next season and as I am planning to continue playing next season, we have brought in ex-Port Vale player, Mark Boyd as an additional member of the coaching team.”

In addition to rebuilding on the field, the club intends to invest heavily in the ground infrastructure.

Plans are in place to build a new stand on the Brown Street side of the ground and planning permission is being prepared for a new clubhouse.

Whether ground improvements interfere with success on the pitch remains to be seen, but the new management team appear eager to remain competitive next season.

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