NOT for the first time, a goal from Paul Chow earned Whitley victory just when it looked as if they would have to settle for a draw.
Penrith took a surprise lead midway through the first half and although Whitley equalised soon after the interval, a below par performance saw them squander a number of good chances before Chow’s last minute winner saved the day.
It was a much changed Bay side that took to the pitch, with Chow, Kerr, Coulson, Williams and Pounder all on the bench while there were recalls for Ormston, Reid, Smith, Robson and McMullen.
Whitley started brightly and with seven minutes played they went close when Robinson’s cross was cut out just ahead of McMullen by experienced Penrith keeper James Holland.
A minute later, Robbie Dale burst through but his shot was blocked. Scroggins then fired wide as Whitley kept up the pressure.
A controversial decision by the referee to penalise Whitley for what he deemed a back pass to Hayes presented Penrith with a great opportunity, but from the indirect free kick barely ten yards from goal, Hayes raced out to block the ball at the expense of a corner.
A few minutes later, a nasty challenge on McMullen by Wood earned the Penrith defender a yellow card.
Fortunately, McMullen recovered and went on to make a valuable contribution later in the game.
The Cumbrians shocked Whitley just after the half hour when they took the lead with what appeared a rather soft goal.
The ball was crossed from the left by Jackson and Robert Bowman’s downward header from about ten yards beat the dive of Hayes.
The response from Whitley was immediate and only brave defending by Grant Davidson kept out a powerful close range shot from Dale.
However, they created little more until shortly before half time, when a free kick to the back post was played to Brian Smith who chipped the ball just over the bar and onto the roof of the net.
Penrith probably deserved their interval lead but as on several occasions this season, Whitley produced a much better second half performance.
Straight from the restart, McMullen’s deflected shot brought a corner but five minutes into the half, a moment of pure skill from Robbie Dale really brought the game to life.
Cutting in from the left, he went past three players and when directly in front of goal he drilled an unstoppable shot past Holland from around 15 yards.
Further pressure from Whitley in the next few minutes saw Holland slice a clearance behind for a corner, then soon after McMullen latched onto a through ball and Holland could only get his fingertips to the shot as it crashed against the bar.
A long range effort from Jackson was about all that Penrith could muster as Hayes was rarely troubled during the second half, as the Bay defence, in which Callum Anderson rarely put a foot wrong, looked comfortably in control. At the other end, Scroggins had a chance to put Whitley ahead but put the ball over the bar.
With 20 minutes left, Chow replaced Ormston and Kerr was also introduced in the hope of turning the game Whitley’s way. After Dale had another effort blocked, two free kicks in potentially dangerous positions just outside the Penrith penalty area gave Kerr and then Robinson chances to make the breakthrough but neither succeeded.
Then with the game about to enter stoppage time, a long throw in from the left was nodded on by Brian Smith to the near post where Paul Chow bundled the ball over the line.
Not only did this goal give Whitley the three points but it also took Chow level with Ian Chandler on 156 goals for the club and joint fourth in the club’s all-time scoring charts.
Deep into stoppage time, Penrith defender Curtis Wood was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. The resultant free kick was floated into the goalmouth but with the ball still in the air, the referee blew the final whistle.
WHITLEY BAY: Hayes, Ormston (Chow 71 mins), Reid, Anderson, Smith, Dale, Scroggins (Kerr 79 mins), Robson, McMullen (Pounder 84 mins), Fawcett, Robinson. Substitutes not used: Coulson, Williams.