An entertaining game of football between Whitley Bay and Guisborough Town was brought to a premature end by the fog which rolled in from the sea on a damp, calm Tuesday evening at Hillheads.
Although slightly misty at kick-off, there was little indication that conditions would deteriorate enough for the game to be abandoned.
What made the decision particularly frustrating from a home side point of view was that this was a greatly improved performance and they were looking to be on their way to a valuable victory when the game was halted with them leading 2-1.
Callum Anderson, Chris Fawcett and Paul Antony were all back in the side while Andy Robertson retained his place in the starting line-up ahead of Ash Davis who was on the bench. Brad Brooking was unavailable.
Whitley almost got off to a flying start when inside the first minute James Novak crossed from the left and Paul Chow’s close range finish went just inches past the near post.
Guisborough have been in excellent form in cup competitions this season and they soon caused Whitley problems with the attacking pace of Dan Johnson and Lewis Wood as the ball flew across the damp surface.
A quick break from midfield put Wood clear on the right when he looked to be a yard offside, but he raced clear and fired an excellent shot low across goal and the ball beat Tom Kindley as it went in off the far post to give the visitors a seventh minute lead.
Compared to their last three games, Whitley were posing much more of a threat in attack with Fawcett playing wide down the left and Rivers operating effectively on the opposite wing.
Balls crossed into the penalty area were providing Paul Chow and the lively Robertson with more ammunition than the high ball launched down midfield in recent games.
When the equaliser came in the 18th minute it was no more than Whitley deserved.
Chow was the provider with excellent play near the by-line on the left edge of the 18-yard box, going past a defender before playing the ball across goal where Antony fired home from ten yards for what would have been, if the game had been completed, his first goal for the club.
Two minutes later, Antony’s cross from the left was put behind by a defender as Whitley’s confidence grew.
Rivers then raced away down the right before whipping over a great cross that was only just beyond the reach of Fawcett as he came in at the far post.
Guisborough continued to threaten with Johnson and Wood the main dangers but Leon Ryan in particular proved a stumbling block for the visitors as the Bay defence held firm.
Seven minutes from half-time, Whitley were awarded what looked like a soft penalty when Chow tumbled to the ground as he tried to go between two Town defenders.
The visitors hotly disputed the decision but referee Dean Hulme remained unmoved and Chow confidently fired the ball past Ben Escritt to put Whitley ahead.
The mist was beginning to spread in but conditions were still perfectly playable, and two minutes later the impressive Robertson tested Escritt with a shot that the keeper could not hold and Fawcett almost turned the ball into the net as it rolled out of the keeper’s grasp.
During half-time, the visibility deteriorated significantly but the game did not seem under threat.
When play resumed after the break Guisborough might have drawn level almost immediately but the chance was wasted when the ball was blazed over the bar.
With the fog steadily moving in, it was still possible to see from end to end of the ground but it became apparent that the assistants were finding it increasingly difficult to identify players on the opposite side of the ground and therefore judge offside decisions so after a brief discussion between officials and captains, the game was abandoned.
Whitley Bay: Kindley. McFarlane, Novak, Reid, Ryan, Anderson, Fawcett, Antony, Robertson, Chow, Rivers. Subs not used: McGorrigan, Ball, Blake, Davis, B Smith.