WHITLEY Bay FC hosted Newcastle Benfield in a Boxing Day derby clash, with the tie ending in a score draw.
In front of a bumper crowd of 523 it was a tight game of few chances and perhaps it was the post Christmas turkey blues because despite the good sized crowd the game seemed to have a slightly flat atmosphere, which was surprising as the Bay could have gone top with a win.
Or perhaps it was the fact that Whitley had hit 13 goals in their last three homes games and the crowd were waiting for the fireworks to start - and they never really did.
Whitley welcomed Callum Anderson back after suspension with Chris Reid dropping to the bench.
It was Benfield who started the brighter of the two sides and Michael Chilton headed just wide in the opening exchanges.
However after just four minutes the Benfield striker made no mistake sliding the ball home from close range after a cross from the right.
Benfield continued to look lively and Kyle Hayes saved an Adam Scope shot as Whitley struggled to get into the game.
The first real fright for the visitors came from a Robbie Dale free kick which caused a scramble but Benfield’s defence managed to clear the danger.
Andrew Grainger was called to save a shot from David Pounder after some good Whitley build up, but the teams in the main were starting to cancel each other out.
Just as it looked as though Benfield would take their advantage into the half time break Whitley pulled level, and it was largely down to Robbie Dale.
Chasing what seemed a bit of a lost cause Dale forced a corner. Pounder’s corner was only half cleared and the ball was played back to him with Pounder’s second effort was met by an emphatic header from Dale giving Grainger no chance.
At half time Lee Scroggins replaced Damon Robson and the game continued to provide few clear cut chances.
The flowing football Bay had produced recently was being smothered by their opponents so often the long ball was used, and although Grainger didn’t always look sure about his collection he wasn’t troubled enough.
In the early part of the second half Hayes dealt well with a difficult cross from Jordan Larty before blocking well from the same player.
For Whitley Paul Chow was played in by Dale but he was well tackled by Phil Lumsden.
Ian Chandler made a double substitution with Lee Kerr and Michael McMullen being replaced by Gary Ormston and Chris Reid.
As the game neared its conclusion Whitley had the best two chances with Grainger producing a fine save to tip round a Paul Robinson shot and then Ormston beating Grainger from close range only to see his effort cleared off the line.