In the proverbial game of two halves, Whitley Bay stuttered their way through a mistake strewn first 45 minutes before stepping up a gear after the interval and running out comfortable winners against newly promoted second division side Willington in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup first round.
Bay gave a return debut to Michael McMullen but were without Leon Ryan and Jarrett Rivers, both of whom were unavailable, while Paul Chow was named among the substitutes, as was new signing Stephen Buzzeo.
Willington gave as good as they got in the first half, helped by some wayward passing by Whitley.
Throughout the team, Whitley were struggling to put passes together and gifted Willington possession as the visitors, promoted from the Wearside League at the end of last season, saw their chance to create an upset.
Whitley’s first real chance came after 26 minutes when Andy Robertson fired over the bar from Chris Fawcett’s pass, then six minutes later Ash Davis turned inside the 18-yard box and fired in a shot that keeper David Moffatt pushed wide.
Willington deservedly went in level at the interval, but the second half saw Whitley dominate proceedings.
The home side broke the deadlock on 52 minutes when Davis’ close range finish from Brad Brooking’s cross bulged the net.
Eight minutes later, Chris Reid powered a header just wide of goal from Paul Antony’s cross, then from Robertson’s cross, Davis produced a goalbound header that Moffatt pushed away.
Whitley were well on top and after 69 minutes they doubled their lead when Fawcett’s cross was knocked down by Davis and Antony drilled the ball home.
Barely a minute later, a tremendous 25-yard shot from James Novak crashed off the bar with Moffatt well beaten then shortly after, teenager Alex Kempster who had just come off the bench, set up a chance for Chow, who had replaced Davis, but somehow the club captain managed to scoop Robertson’s cross over the bar from less than a yard out.
In the end, the visitors must have been relieved to hear the final whistle as the margin of victory might easily have been five or six.
Whitley will now travel to division two side Washington in the second round.
Whitley Bay: Kindley, Brooking, Novak, Reid, McFarlane, Anderson, Fawcett, Antony (Buzzeo 70mins), Robertson, Davis (Chow 70 mins), McMullen (Kempster 65mins). Subs not used: Ball, B Smith.