WHITLEY Bay picked up a deserved three points in the their final game before Christmas against South Shields.
On a day when frost decimated the regional non league programme, this was one of only three games north of the Tyne to go ahead.
Credit went to groundsman Dave Styles for getting the pitch playable and providing the opportunity for Robbie Dale to produce another masterclass as he laid on the first two goals before scoring a sensational and decisive third.
Former Bay defender Lee Picton, now assistant manager at the Mariners, was in charge of the side for the day, but after a bright opening his team struggled to cope with a Whitley side missing six players through injury and suspension.
Denver Morris and Gilberto Chapin went close, but it was Morris who posed the main threat with his pace.
Whitley gradually took control with Dale and Michael McMullen causing problems for the Mariners’ defence.
Just past the quarter hour mark, when Dale crossed from the left after running on to an excellent pass from Lee Kerr, Talbot needed to be alert to prevent McMullen from getting his shot on target.
A Dale free kick to the back post was headed home by Paul Chow.
The goal, Chow’s 24th of the season, took his total for the club to 152, just four behind manager Ian Chandler, and it set Whitley on their way to making amends for the defeat at Filtrona Park six weeks ago.
Before half-time, Jonny Wightman headed narrowly over while at the other end, poor defending from set pieces, which led to several goalmouth scrambles almost gifted Whitley a second with McMullen poking the ball off the outside of the post.
The youngster, in the side for the suspended Chris Fawcett and making only his second start, was looking lively on the right and had the beating of Talbot, who was replaced after the interval as the Mariners looked to get back in the game.
Soon after the restart, Wightman was denied by David Coulson from a cross by Morris, but rather than levelling the score, the visitors found themselves two down after 56 minutes.
Scope’s attempted clearance was intercepted by Dale who played an inch perfect pass out to McMullen on the right edge of the Shields penalty area.
With only Jonny Ball to beat, McMullen advanced before firing a low shot past the keeper for his first senior goal.
Three minutes later a lapse in concentration saw Wightman play the ball to Morris unmarked just inside the Bay half and with a clear run on goal.
He took full advantage, racing through and slotting past Kyle Hayes to give the Mariners hope of a comeback.
But those hopes were quickly extinguished on 62 minutes when Dale won the ball in midfield and looked up to see Ball way off his line, on the edge of his 18-yard box.
With a stunning strike from well over 40 yards, Dale’s perfectly struck shot flew over the keeper, dipping only slightly before bulging the back of the net.
McMullen was then replaced by LeePaul Scroggins, returning from injury and obviously keen to play a part against his former club.
After Lee Bell had a free kick saved by Hayes, another attacking move by Whitley saw Dale volley a pass from Paul Robinson across the face of goal at such speed that Chow barely had time to react let alone get his head to the ball.
Scroggins then fired just beyond the post from another cross by Robinson.
At the other end Sweeney brought a great save from Hayes and Bell crashed a shot off the post before Darren Reay and Kyle Downey made brief appearances for Whitley as they comfortably saw out the game.
While Dale’s contribution was outstanding, this was another excellent team performance by Whitley, with every member of the side playing their part.