WHITLEY Bay FC beat Tow Law for the second time in five days to complete a rare double over the Lawyers and move up to third in the table.
A first half Craig McFarlane goal was enough for the three points.
The starting line-up showed six changes from the side that won the midweek game at Hillheads 2-0.
With Paul Chow recovering from his ankle injury and Lee Kerr unavailable, McFarlane and Chris Fawcett spearheaded Whitley’s attack.
With games coming thick and fast for both clubs, the home side also made several changes from Tuesday.
Whitley had slightly the better of the opening exchanges without seriously troubling keeper Dave Anderson, but it was the home side who were first to get a shot on target when Terry Burke, back in the Bay goal, had to make a low save with 13 minutes played.
Then a long throw from high on the right of the sloping pitch caused problems in the home goalmouth as the ball was headed about the six-yard box and when it was partially cleared it fell to Damon Robson who shot wide.
Whitley were beginning to get on top and four minutes later, Robson was only just offside when Dave Pounder’s cross from the left beat the home defence and was put in the net.
At the other end, a half clearance by Brian Smith fell to Andrew Thompson whose first time effort was pushed over the bar by Burke.
Whitley took the lead in the 34th minute when a ball was lobbed forward by Robson and McFarlane ran clear before placing the ball over the on-rushing keeper from 20 yards and into the unguarded net.
It was a well executed goal from the versatile McFarlane, more familiar with a wing back role.
Whitley held the upper hand for the rest of the first half with David Coulson going close shortly before the break.
The Bay captain should have at least tested the keeper six minutes after the restart when he smashed the ball over when clear on goal after Gary Ormston had headed on a cross from the left.
A minute later Burke showed that he has lost none of his agility with a superb diving save to push a powerful shot from Luke Parkinson wide.
The game was opening up now and one minute later a tremendous shot from Brian Rowe flashed inches over the bar following a cross from McFarlane.
Steve Gibson then combined with McFarlane to produce another chance as Whitley strove for a second.
Fawcett and McFarlane were impressive up front, working tirelessly on a hard, bobbly surface.
Substitutions midway through the half saw Glen Taylor replace Robson, with McFarlane moving back in to more of a midfield position.
At the centre of the Tow Law defence was former Bay centre back Steve Tobin, and when the home defence was put under pressure by Taylor, he only just managed to intercept a back pass to the keeper and put it out for a corner as Fawcett closed in on goal.
There was a moment of controversy when Tobin and McFarlane raced towards the home goal for a ball that had cleared the Tow Law defence and Tobin seemed to handle the ball.
However, the assistant referee signalled an infringement by McFarlane.
Whitley were not having everything their own way and Derek Waters spurned a good chance to grab an equaliser when he put the ball wide.
Ormston, another Bay player to catch the eye with a good display in midfield, might have made the game safe three minutes from time. Gareth Williams played a free kick down the slope to the back of the goal area and Ormston, closing in on keeper, got his foot to the ball and after the players collided, the ball rolled across an open goal and just beyond the far post.
While Whitley had created enough chances to make the margin of victory more comfortable, a determined Lawyers team forced them to battle for the
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points and Terry Burke was nominated by the home side as Whitley’s man of the match for making several crucial saves.
From a Bay perspective, it was a very satisfying all round team performance with Fawcett, McFarlane and Ormston all particularly impressive, as was Callum Anderson, playing his first full game since returning from injury.
With players of the calibre of Kerr, Paul Robinson and Chow all missing, other members of the squad are playing their part in Whitley’s tremendous second half of the season and manager Ian Chandler will not have an easy task deciding his line-up for Wembley.
Apart from the rarity of a win at Ironworks Road, Whitley fans were also able to enjoy the sunshine in unusually pleasant weather conditions at this highest of Northern League grounds.
Whitley Bay: Burke, Anderson, Pounder, Gibson (Williams 57 mins), Smith, Coulson, Ormston, Robson (Taylor 67 mins), McFarlane, Fawcett, Rowe (Timmons 57 mins). Subs not used: Hayes, Elliott.