A SECOND half hat-trick from Paul Chow, his tenth for the club, saw Whitley Bay safely through to the last eight of the League Cup.
The 4-1 margin of victory over second division high fliers Ryhope CW was slightly flattering, but apart from a 20-minute spell during the first half, the home side looked the better side and created more chances.
Paul Robinson was out injured and Callum Anderson was unavailable, but it was still a strong Bay side that started the game.
Ryhope were without striker Johnny Butler, the league’s top scorer with 38 goals this season, but they had another prolific scorer Chris Winn in their side.
On a damp and misty midweek evening, Whitley took the lead after 12 minutes when James Fairley fired home after being played clear by Brad Brooking.
Fairley, who has scored in each of the last three games, gave an impressive performance and frequently troubled the Ryhope side with his pace on the ball.
A minute later, Chris Fawcett’s cross took a big deflection off defender Martin Metcalfe and flew behind for a corner.
Ryhope came back into the game with Winn firing wide before Stead saw an effort held by Kyle Hayes.
Then a surging run by Bay midfielder LeePaul Scroggins took him through the heart of the Ryhope defence and wide of the keeper but his shot was cleared off the line by Greg Swansbury.
Whitley suffered a double blow when Chris Reid and then Fawcett were unable to continue and had to be substituted midway through the half.
The loss disrupted Whitley’s flow and while they were still reorganising their line-up, Ryhope grasped the opportunity to push forward.
A defensive mix-up involving Brooking and James Novak allowed Winn to pounce and drill home a fine shot from around 15 yards to level the score after 36 minutes.
For the remainder of the half there was little to choose between the sides, with Ryhope growing in self belief and enjoying more of the possession.
But the half-time team talk had the desired effect on Whitley as they soon regained the initiative.
Young substitute Lewis Burns was put through on goal ten minutes after the break but was not quick enough to beat Rookes in the Ryhope goal.
However, a minute later, Whitley’s positive approach was rewarded when Brooking’s cross from the right was slotted home at the near post by Chow to restore the lead.
Brooking was becoming increasingly influential and another burst down the right took him to near the by-line where his cross beat everyone as it flew across the face of goal with no one on hand to apply the finishing touch.
Ryhope were not giving up though, and if a warning was needed, it was given by the dangerous Winn when he headed over just past the hour.
Although the pitch was coping better than on Saturday, the weather conditions were deteriorating with the mist becoming thicker, and with only one goal separating the sides, Ryhope were still very much in the game.
A determined challenge by Swansbury on Fairley prevented a shot on goal, then Fairley’s cross to the far post only just eluded Chow.
Thirteen minutes from time, Ryhope captain Philip Hall effectively pressed the self destruct button when he deliberately handled the ball less than ten yards from goal as Chow crossed from the right.
Inevitably he was sent off and Chow compounded the punishment when he rifled the resultant penalty past Rookes to extend Whitley’s lead.
Against ten men, Whitley took complete control and after Burns put Watson’s cross wide, Chow took advantage of a tiring and dispirited Ryhope defence to complete his hat-trick three minutes from time, heading home from close range after the ball was nodded forward by Brooking.
Whitley continued to push forward in the remaining minutes, leaving Ryhope grateful to hear the final whistle.
However, the Wearsiders did enough to suggest that if promoted, they could survive comfortably in the first division.
Meanwhile, Whitley will have to wait another two weeks to find whether they will visit North Shields or Bishop Auckland in the fourth round of the competition.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Brooking, Novak, Watson, Reid (Burns 23 mins), McFarlane, Fawcett (Pounder 34 mins), Scroggins, Kerr, Chow, Fairley (C Smith 80 mins) Subs not used: B Smith, Rowe.
On Saturday Whitley Bay are away to Durham City in the Ebac Northern League first division. Kick-off is 3pm.