Dean Holmes’ winner for North Shields means both FA Vase Semi-Final first legs ended with away victories as Graham Fenton’s men take a goal advantage into next week’s second leg against Highworth Town.
The Northern League Division One outfit started on top, with Dean Walker having a shot cleared off the line following a quick free-kick, before Gary Stevens made a smart save when Adam Forster improvised well with a shot on the turn.
Denver Morris also flashed a warning shot just wide of the mark as the visitors had a productive opening ten minutes, with their supporters making plenty of noise.
Highworth 0-1 North Shields
The FA Vase
Semi-Final first leg
Saturday 21 March
The Elms Recreation Ground, Highworth
It was an open half after that, with Highworth well in the game but failing to pose much of a threat in the penalty area - until just before the break. Callum Parsons showed sublime skill to find space to shoot just over the bar with keeper Michael Robinson left scrambling.
With the packed Elms Recreation Ground a stark contrast to Highworth’s first game in this run, a victory over Hartney Wintney that was watched by just 55 spectators, John Fisher’s men rallied at the start of the second half, with TJ Bohane having a volley shovelled away by Robinson, before a string of corners followed for the men in red and black.
Then Jon Davoile lofted a ball into the box for Callum Parsons, who had a shot hacked off the line after he had fired under the keeper.
But then they were sucker-punched as North Shields took the lead just when it looked lie the hosts were on top. Holmes tapped the ball into the net after Stevens did brilliantly to re-adjust when Walker back-heeled a Ryan Carr cross goalwards.
Stuart Donnison was the hero for the visitors in the closing stages when he made an acrobatic last-ditch block when Ryan King’s close-range strike looked set to level the tie.
Donnison's interception means his side take a 1-0 advantage into next week's second leg.
Highworth Town: Gary Stevens, Johnny Aitkenhead, Chris Jackson (Kevin Tate, 67), Ash Taylor, Sam Wadieh, Ryan King, Tony Joyce (Dan Drewett, 46), Jon Davoile, TJ Bohane, Callum Parsons, Bradley Clark (Nathan Blackford, 85)
Substitutes not used: Aaron Maximen, Garry Eggleton
North Shields: Michael Robinson, Stuart Donnison, Marc Lancaster, Michael McKeown, John Parker, Kevin Hughes, Denver Morris (Ryan Carr, 68), Adam Forster, Dean Walker, Benjamin Richardson (Kieran Wrightson, 75), Dean Holmes (Christopher Bannon, 88).
Substitutes not used: Curtis Coppen, James Luccock.