WHITLEY Bay progressed to an FA Cup date with Bedlington Terriers in what was the proverbial game of two halves at Bridlington on Saturday.
The visitors dominated the first half and were two goals ahead inside 35 minutes, but the Yorkshire side showed great spirit with a determined second half come back that left Ian Chandler’s side relieved to hear the full-time whistle.
With Craig McFarlane and Callum Anderson suspended, youngster Jack Walker and new signing Denver Morris were both in the starting line-up along with Chris Moore, returning to Whitley Bay after spells at Darlington and Gateshead.
On a warm afternoon there was a large contingent of Bay fans at the Queensgate Stadium, easily outnumbering the home supporters.
After Bridlington striker Craig Hogg tested Kyle Hayes early on, it was Whitley who took control of the game and after 13 minutes, Morris saw a shot deflected over the bar by a defender.
Moore was causing problems with his pace down the right wing and he gave Whitley a 17th minute lead with a great solo effort when he went past a defender, cut in and fired a shot from the right edge of the penalty area into the far corner of the net.
Two minutes later an effort from Paul Chow crashed off the post and from the rebound Morris saw his shot deflected over the bar.
Whitley kept up the pressure and when Chow crossed into the goalmouth, Lee Kerr’s first time effort flashed inches wide.
A well deserved second came in the 34th minute when Morris crossed from the left and LeePaul Scroggins played the ball back across goal where Paul Chow was on hand to nod home from close range.
It was almost all Whitley and they had strong penalty claims turned down when a Bridlington defender appeared to handle the ball as the home side struggled to contain Bay’s constant stream of attacks.
Stretching their opponents down both wings, firstly Moore then Chris Fawcett delivered dangerous crosses into the goalmouth with Chow heading one effort just over the bar while keeper Mark Wilberforce needed to be alert to the danger, punching clear on more than one occasion.
Possibly grateful to be only two goals down at the break, Bridlington stormed forward in the second period while Whitley seemed to ease down, perhaps believing the game was already won.
It was a complete role reversal as it was Bridlington’s turn to pile on the pressure, playing a more direct game than in the first half.
And after 65 minutes they deservedly reduced the arrears when a right wing corner was headed home at the near post by Nathan Cook.
Whitley were failing to get the ball forward or even retain possession, and in an effort to regain the initiative, Morris, Kerr and Brian Smith were substituted, with Seb Anzevui, Daryll Donnelly and midweek signing Jack Palmer taking their places.
After Hayes had denied Scott Philips with a great diving save, Palmer, with virtually his first touch, was caught in two minds when played through on goal and squared the ball rather than taking a shot.
Bridlington maintained the pressure, but apart from an attempt from Greening, whose shot was comfortably held by Hayes, they failed to hit the target.
In the closing stages a good run from Moore and another from Robinson briefly threatened the home goal as Whitley held out against a battling home side.
The preliminary round tie against Bedlington Terriers is a week on Saturday.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Walker, Fawcett, Reid, B Smith (Donnelly 73 mins), Morris (Anzevui 67 mins), Moore, Scroggins, Kerr (Palmer 73 mins), Chow, Robinson. Subs not used: Rowe, Mooney, Fairley, C Smith.