FOR their latest pre-season friendly, Whitley Bay travelled to Derbyshire to renew rivalries with Glossop North End, who they beat in the FA Vase final at Wembley in 2009 – and once again they came out on top.
As in their last two games, Whitley went behind but came back strongly and ran out comfortable winners.
Set in picturesque surroundings on the northern edge of the Peak District, Glossop’s Surrey Street pitch was in excellent condition and the game got under way in bright sunshine.
Glossop started much the better against a youthful Bay side, looking lively in attack.
And with barely two minutes gone, Simon Thompson tested Kyle Hayes with a powerful shot that the Bay keeper pushed behind at the expense of a corner.
Two minutes later, Chris Birch headed just wide following a free kick as Glossop kept up the pressure.
Eventually, after ten minutes, Whitley went close when Lee Owens sent a first time effort over the bar from Lee Kerr’s corner.
It came as no great surprise when Glossop took the lead after 13 minutes, Alex Elliott firing a low shot into the corner of the net following a throw-in near the right corner flag.
Not long afterwards, a misunderstanding in the Whitley defence allowed Simon Thompson a clear run on goal but Hayes came to the rescue with another good save.
Whitley began to come into the game more and when they won a corner on the left, it led to the equaliser.
The corner was played short by James Fairley and from the left edge of the penalty area, Paul Robinson drilled a shot into the far corner of the Glossop net, beyond the dive of keeper Ben Proctor.
Whitley were steadily growing in confidence and five minutes after the goal, Fairley’s shot took a deflection and only a diving save from Proctor kept the ball out.
Owens then went close to putting Whitley ahead but his shot was blocked, as was Kerr’s follow up effort.
Then Proctor, at full stretch, did well to push wide a free kick from Kerr as Whitley maintained the pressure.
Glossop’s best response in this period was a close range attempt by Smallwood which hit the side netting.
To the delight of the good size following of Bay fans who had made the journey, Whitley deservedly took the lead five minutes before half-time when Robinson struck a tremendous 25-yard shot which crashed off the bar and Owens reacted quickly to net the rebound from close range.
Ten minutes after half-time, Paul Chow got Whitley’s third, bundling the ball home from Owens’ cross from the left.
Soon after, Whitley brought on two youngsters from the reserves, Josh Day and Lewis Burns, who had to contend with a torrential downpour which sent fans rushing for cover in the stands and made playing conditions more difficult.
Both players made significant contributions in the latter stages and it was Burns who got the fourth goal with a shot from almost 20 yards after Whitley broke quickly from midfield.
With less than ten minutes remaining, and highlighting the excellent spirit in which the game was played, Whitley made two further substitutions, both eye catching but in different ways.
Twenty one-year-old keeper Hayes who had been substituted for Liam Mooney at half-time, returned to the field as a striker, alongside manager Ian Chandler, who made his Bay debut back in 1989.
The introduction of the new strike force brought the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the Bay fans but unfortunately there was not time for either player to get on the score sheet.
Another good team performance and with a number of first team players unavailable, it gave the opportunity for several promising members of the reserves side to get some first team experience.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Anderson, Walker, Donnelly, C Smith, Fairley, Morris, Owens, Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Second half substitutes: Mooney, Day, Burns, Chandler.
On Wednesday of last week, Whitley beat hosts Jarrow FC 3-1 with the goals coming from Kerr, Fairley and Chow.