WHAT a difference a week makes.
Well beaten by Bedlington Terriers in the FA Cup just seven days earlier, Whitley Bay turned in a vastly improved performance and thoroughly deserved their 1-0 in this league fixture, which brought an abrupt end to the Terriers 100 per cent record in all competitions this season.
Despite the disappointment of the previous week, the game attracted a bigger crowd of 441 to Hillheads.
Perhaps the key to Whitley’s success lay in the control they exerted with a five-man midfield denying Bedlington possession and opportunities to break forward.
As a result, top scorer Paul Brayson was starved of the ball and the prolific Terriers strike force drew a blank for the first time this season.
James Fairley came into the Bay starting 11 along with Jack Palmer and Brian Smith, whereas Bedlington made just one change from the previous Saturday, with James Novak coming in at left back in place of Stuart Elliott.
Whitley started well with Paul Robinson operating with Paul Chow in attack, and he soon caused problems with some surging runs into the Bedlington penalty area.
The home side nearly took the lead after 15 minutes when Palmer crossed and Robinson smashed a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box against the bar with keeper Kevin Morton rooted to the spot.
Bedlington’s first chance came five minutes later when Ferrell played the ball through to Bannister who fired over.
Fairley like Palmer was taking every opportunity to attack from midfield and broke forward and drilled a shot not far wide of the post.
A brief moment of danger for Whitley came when Chris Reid was penalised for a challenge on Brayson barely a yard outside the penalty, area but Craig Ferrell curled the free kick wide.
Whitley were posing the greater threat and again went close when Robinson played a square ball to Lee Kerr, whose long range shot bounced just in front of Morton and hit the keeper’s legs.
Bedlington’s best attempt of the half came after 42 minutes when Kris Gate brought a great save from Hayes, the Bay keeper diving to his right to push away a goal bound shot.
A minute before the interval, Kerr set up Robinson for a 20-yard shot that Morton did well to push over the bar.
Straight from the restart Whitley earned a free kick, which was taken by Reid and when Morton could only push the ball away, Palmer reacted first and from a narrow angle drove a stinging shot into the side netting.
Fairley, in the starting 11 for the first time, had looked impressive but picked up an injury and was replaced by Jack Walker just after the hour mark.
Whitley deservedly took the lead after 63 minutes when Robinson played an excellent through ball to Scroggins, whose low shot from about 15 yards was blocked by Morton diving to his right.
Chow challenged the keeper for the ball and when it ran loose, LeePaul Scroggins reacted quickest from six yards.
Bedlington tried to get back in the game but could make little impression on Whitley’s resolute midfield.
Smith, who had been adding a physical presence to the Bay defence and was also posing a threat in attack from set pieces, was replaced for the final 20 minutes by Daryll Donnelly.
Chris Fawcett threatened twice in the closing stages as his pace took him beyond defenders who were pushing up in an effort to find an equaliser.
Several corners for the visitors came to nothing with Hayes handling the ball confidently as Whitley claimed their first clean sheet of the season.
Ian Chandler, obviously delighted with the performance, felt that Whitley’s strategy to counter the threat of a very good Bedlington side had worked well and praised the entire team.
But hw highlighted the individual contributions of Palmer, Fawcett and Fairley, while Scroggins capped a man of the match display with the winning goal.
There was also praise for Kyle Hayes on keeping a first clean sheet of the campaign.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, McFarlane, Fawcett, Reid, Smith (Donnelly 72 mins), Scroggins, Palmer, Fairley (Walker 62 mins), Kerr, Chow, Robinson (Anzevui 78 mins). Substitutes not used: C Smith, Rowe.