Late strikes from Gareth Bainbridge and Dean Holmes broke Highworth Town hearts and sent North Shields to Wembley in a frantic climax at Ralph Gardner Park.
Carrying a 1-0 lead from the first leg, the Northern League Division One side thought the best form of defence was attack, and looked to double that advantage by firing several sighters at Gary Stevens’ goal in a windy opening period.
North Shields 2-0 Highworth
North Shields with 3-0 on agg
FA Vase semi-final second leg
Ralph Gardner Park
Saturday 28 March 2015
North Shields play Glossop NE in the Final
They created three decent chances as half time approached, with Michael McKeown having a shot deflected over the bar, Gareth Bainbridge heading just off target and Ben Richardson shooting wide.
It was so windy that Stevens struggled to clear his own box with a goal kick as half-time approached; but he would have been licking his lips at the prospect of playing with that wind at his side’s back for the next 45 minutes.
After the teams changed ends, the men from Wiltshire built up a head of steam, with Bradley Clarke shooting just over during a period of sustained pressure.
John Davoile also narrowly missed the target from 25 yards before Robins keeper Michael Robinson could only watch as a free-kick cannoned off his crossbar.
But Highworth could not make a dent in the Robins’ aggregate lead, and fell behind in the tie itself with 15 minutes left on the clock.
When Richardson’s corner was helped on by John Parker, Gareth Bainbridge was there to score the goal that guaranteed North Shields a slot in the Final.
Highworth had done the Hellenic League proud, but it was all over when they conceded a cruel second late on.
When a blast from substitute Ryan Carr stung Stevens’ hands, Dean Holmes was on the scene to gleefully tap into the net and make it 3-0 on aggregate.
As the final whistle blew, fans bounded onto the field to mob their heroes as thoughts began to turn to that Wembley Final on 9 May 2015.
North Shields: Michael Robinson, Jack Donnison, John Parker, Kevin Hughes, Marc Lancaster, Adam Forster (Curtis Coppen 74), Michael McKeown, James Luccock, Ben Richardson (Ryan Carr 82), Dean Holmes, Gareth Bainbridge (Dean Walker 87)
Subs not used: Denver Morris, Chris Bannon.
Highworth Town: Gary Stevens, Jonathan Aitkenhead, Chris Jackson, Ash Taylor, Sam Wadieh, Ryan King, Dan Drewett, John Davoile, Terry Bahone, Callum Parsons, Bradley Clarke (Aaron Maximen, 61).
Subs not used: Tony Joyce, Nathan Blackford, Kevin Tate, Garry Eggleton.