WHITLEY Bay FC progressed to the next round of the FA Cup after two late goals saw off fellow STL Northern League challengers Marske United at Hillheads on Saturday.
It was the second time the two sides had met in the space of seven days having come face to face in a league game the previous weekend.
On that occasion Bay ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, but in the cup tie they were given a much tougher time by the visitors.
And with both goals in 2-0 win coming late in the game, the visitors could consider themselves unfortunate not to have earned a replay after having much the better of the first half.
Only an excellent goalkeeping display by Bay’s man of the match Kyle Hayes kept the scores level at the interval after the visitors had created a series of chances against a lack lustre Bay side.
Rain, which began just before kick-off, continued for most of the game, with most of the 524 in attendance watching from under the shelter of the stands.
Marske started much the livelier side and in the fourth minute they saw a shot deflected wide of the Bay goal.
Three minutes later, Adam Gell broke through on goal but Hayes blocked the shot before quickly gathering the ball at the second attempt.
With 14 minutes on the clock, United’s Karl Charlton attacked down the left and his effort on goal brought a diving save from Hayes who conceded a corner as the visitors kept up the pressure.
The home side had made little impression in the first quarter of the game, but when eventually they found an opening, Phill Bell’s flick was collected by keeper Jonathan McDonald.
Midway through the half, a 20-yard shot from Bell flew wide of goal, but Marske responded immediately with Hayes making another great diving save to keep out a first time effort from Chris McGill.
Further efforts on target from Gell were blocked by Craig McFarlane and Robbie Dale, helping out in defence.
Then a Charlton free kick from the left was pushed clear by Hayes as Whitley continued to come under pressure.
Despite United’s pressure, Bay were successfully defending their goal, and four minutes before the interval they came close to taking the lead when Darren Timmons brought a good save from McDonald from a close range header.
Whitley’s first half performance was well below par with the midfield unable to stamp their authority on the game, but part of the credit for that was down to Marske for their non stop effort and spirit.
At half-time Bay made a change with Callum Anderson replacing Gareth Williams, who had picked up an injury.
But the pattern of the game did not change significantly until shortly after the hour when Lee Kerr was brought off the bench in place of Bell.
Within seconds, he almost put Whitley ahead when, just inside the penalty area he stretched to get a foot to the ball, lobbing it over the keeper.
Only a brave last ditch clearance by Anthony Roberts cleared the ball off the line – but in doing so Roberts collided with the upright and ended up in the back of the net.
Following a lengthy delay for treatment he was able to continue, but the momentum was beginning to change in favour of the home side.
With just under 20 minutes left, a cross from Gary Ormston was headed behind by defender Adam Wheatley as Whitley pushed forward.
A minute later, Kerr chased a through ball from Anderson which appeared to be heading for McDonald, but the unfortunate keeper spilled the ball and Kerr pounced to slot the loose ball into the net to the delight and relief of team-mates and fans.
David Pounder then fired narrowly wide after his free kick was not properly cleared.
In defence Whitley still had to be on their toes with Ormston and Timmons making important clearances, but the visitors’ confidence had been badly affected by the goal.
Lee Paul Scroggins went close to doubling the lead with a shot across goal which went beyond the far post.
But three minutes from time he sealed victory in style with a powerful shot following a defensive mistake when the ball ricocheted off a defender and into his path.
Although the game was now won, Marske battled on and almost reduced the deficit when Burton struck the bar in stoppage time.
It was far from a vintage performance by Whitley, but it still earned them victory and a place in the first qualifying round where they will face a stern challenge away to Kendal Town, who are currently flying high, two leagues above Whitley.
Whitley will have Paul Chow available for that game while Chris Reid, recently returned from Australia, could also be in contention for a place in the side.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Ormston, McFarlane, Timmons, Smith, Williams (Anderson 45 mins), Scroggins, Robson, Bell (Kerr 64 mins), Dale, Robinson (Pounder 74 mins). Substitutes not used: Downey, Rowe, Reid, Hammond.