WHITLEY Bay FC came out on top in their Northern League’ match of the day against Consett thanks to an excellent second half performance.
On a sunny spring afternoon, the league’s biggest crowd of the season witnessed an entertaining and hard fought game that kept Whitley well in touch with the league leaders and extended their winning run.
Despite the unavailability of David Pounder and Chris Fawcett, and with Glen Taylor and Callum Anderson both injured, Whitley’s strength in depth meant Ian Chandler was still able to name a strong squad for what was a championship game.
The early stages belonged largely to the visitors, but inspite of their possession they were unable to break down a resolute Bay defence, where David Coulson and Brian Rowe were commanding.
Whitley’s first attempt on goal came when Craig McFarlane played through Paul Robinson and his shot was pushed wide by Barry Poskett.
Steve Gibson was playing a more forward role than normal and after attacking down the right he twice had efforts that hit the side netting.
Little more of incident occurred before the interval, only Paul Chow’s header from a Rowe cross going close for Whitley while right on the whistle, Marc Walton fired wide for Consett.
Chandler felt that Whitley had not been positive enough in the opening period and his half-time words seemed to have had the desired effect when Craig McFarlane was just wide with an effort two minutes into the half.
Four minutes later Whitley took the lead.
A Consett clearance from near the corner flag only reached Paul Chow about 25 yards from goal, and his cross into the goalmouth was met by Brian Smith, whose glancing header flew past Poskett into the far corner.
In a double substitution, Whitley replaced Gibson and Rowe with Damon Robson and Gareth Williams.
Whitley were well on top and might have increased their lead when Lee Kerr’s through ball reached Chow but his shot was blocked.
Whitley were not to be denied for long though and on the hour Williams and Kerr set up the opportunity for Chow to beat a flat-footed Consett defence and chip the ball over Poskett for his 25th goal of the season.
Still pushing forward, Whitley created another half chance three minutes later when Kerr’s cross was glanced past the post by Coulson.
Consett fought back well and Terry Burke had to make an excellent diving save to push a shot from Gavin Barton wide.
But with just over 20 minutes left, there was nothing Burke could do when Walton drove a tremendous 25-yard shot into the top corner.
The game looked wide open as Consett pushed forward with renewed hope and Burke made another outstanding save, pushing a long range shot from Marc Eccles onto the top of the bar.
Bay substitute Lee Mason might have added a third with less than ten minutes to go when, with the visitors pushing for an equaliser, he cut in from the right with only Poskett to beat but put his shot the wrong side of the post.
Despite playing an extra striker for the final 15 minutes, Consett could not find a way through the Whitley defence and they were left to regret the ten-minute spell early in the second half which was when the game was decided.
Whitley Bay: Burke, McFarlane, Gibson (Robson 54 mins), Smith, Coulson, Timmons (Mason 72 mins), Ormston, Rowe (Williams 54 mins), Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Substitutes not used: Hayes, Reay.