SATURDAY’S 1-0 win over Norton & Stockton Ancients was not a game that will live long in the memory of Whitley Bay fans.
But the victory over the side one place below them in the table keeps Whitley in fourth and in touch with the leaders.
It was the first time in the three years that Norton have been in the top flight that Whitley have completed the double over them, the crucial goal coming from leading scorer Paul Chow with a second half penalty.
Shots on target were at a premium during the opening half, but what there were fell to the home side.
With 12 minutes on the clock, Lee Kerr was played through on goal but Jonathan McDonald, deputising in goal for the visitors in place of the injured Jim Provett, blocked the shot.
Six minutes later Norton’s Nathan Mulligan won possession in midfield and his ball to Craig Gott gave the Teessiders a good chance but his shot flew over the bar.
Shaun Clarke was then also off target for the visitors before team-mate Leon Scott blazed an effort high over the bar.
Four minutes before the interval, Kerr’s 20-yard chip shot over the Norton defence brought a good fingertip save from McDonald as he pushed the ball over the bar.
Then just before the half-time whistle, LeePaul Scroggins cleared almost off the Whitley Bay line from Nathan Mulligan.
The second period began with Bay showing more purpose in attack and within four minutes they won a penalty when Robbie Dale was brought down by Scott right on the edge of the penalty area.
The referee had no doubt in his mind but the Norton players disputed the decision and even some Whitley fans not far from the incident felt it was questionable whether the foul took place within the penalty area.
Probably more for his protests than the foul, Scott was cautioned, an outcome that proved costly for him later in the game.
Chow took the spot kick and his powerful shot gave McDonald no chance and put Whitley in front.
Bay’s scorer was in the action again soon after but this time McDonald pushed his shot away from danger.
At the other end, Brown wasted a good opportunity when played through, but his shot failed to trouble Hayes as it flew high over the bar.
The game was repeatedly being held up by the referee’s whistle, disrupting the flow of the game and leaving players of both sides frustrated as they were the victims of the decisions, which may have contributed to a large number of cautions.
Whitley were having the better of what scoring opportunities there were, with Scroggins and then Chow going close to increasing the lead.
Phill Bell was brought on for the last ten minutes, a period during which Whitley have surrendered the lead on several occasions so far this season.
This time, with Bell attacking down the wing and forcing Norton back to defend, Whitley found themselves under less pressure and in stoppage time frustration got the better of Scott who clumsily brought down Dale as he brought the ball down the right wing.
He was cautioned for a second time and then issued with a red card.
Grinding out a result as Whitley did in this game is sometimes necessary, if not attractive to watch, but there must be a certain amount of sympathy for the view of the Norton manager who suggested that the referee had a greater influence on the game than was needed.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, McFarlane (Bell 80 mins), Pounder, Timmons, Coulson, Reid, Scroggins, Ormston, Dale, Chow, Kerr (Williams 65 mins).