Whitley Bay’s disappointing form of late continued on Saturday when they lost at home to Morpeth Town.
And not for the first time this season, they dominated the first half but allowed their opponents to come from behind and claim the points.
The turning point came six minutes before the interval when Chris Reid was sent off for a bad tackle.
Whitley wore pink shirts and a good number of fans were also dressed in the stand-out colour as the club once again supported the ‘Paint the Town Pink’ Breast Cancer Campaign.
A collection for the charity was also taken during the match.
Morpeth soon found themselves under pressure as the home side launched a series of attacks.
A cross from Craig McFarlane was headed clear by Matty Grieve just ahead of the in-rushing Michael Laws.
In the tenth minute, Robbie Bird won the ball midway inside the Morpeth half and slipped it through to Peter Watling whose shot from 18 yards beat keeper Steven Mundy, who although managed to get his fingers to the ball could not keep it out.
It was a well deserved lead, and within 60 seconds Paul Robinson tried his luck from fully 30 yards but his shot dipped just over the bar.
A minute later and Robinson again went close, this time poking a shot inches wide as he held off a defender’s challenge.
The pressure at this stage was relentless and after Bird was felled by Shaun Henderson just outside the box, Robinson’s free kick deceived Mundy who could only watch as the ball crashed off the upright.
Bird clearly had the beating of Henderson and after twisting his way past the defender saw his powerful shot blocked by Mundy at the near post.
In the 15th minute, McFarlane fired a fierce shot on goal but Mundy got his body behind the ball and made the save.
Having survived the onslaught, Morpeth quickly broke away downfield and caught the home defence napping. Sean Taylor found an alarming amount of space on the right wing and crossed the ball into the goalmouth where prolific scorer Michael Chilton had the simple task of heading home the equaliser.
Back came Whitley and three minutes later Watling fired a first time effort straight at Mundy after Laws had played a cross from Bird into his path.
Robinson was tormenting the visitors and after 21 minutes he cut in from the right and, spotting a gap in the Morpeth defence, fired a tremendous 20-yard shot into the bottom corner of the net to restore Whitley’s lead.
Marc Ellison almost added a third four minutes later as he advanced unchallenged from midfield and drove an excellent shot inches past the post with Mundy beaten.
The keeper was little more than a bystander moments later when a thunderous shot by Robinson from fully 22 yards crashed off the post.
On the half hour, Whitley had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Jonny Godsmark was through on goal and went to ground following a challenge from behind.
Morpeth were proving physical opponents and Henderson was cautioned after another heavy challenge on Bird as the Bay midfielder threatened to break clear on goal.
The moment that changed the course of the game arrived with 39 minutes on the clock when Reid went in with a high tackle on Chilton midway inside the Bay half.
Referee Barry Gordon immediately showed a red card, with the result that not only were Whitley down to ten men, but with the suspension taking effect in two weeks time, the Bay captain is ruled out of the FA Vase clash with Bedlington.
Within two minutes the numbers might have been evened up, but when David Hiftle caught Godsmark with an elbow, he escaped with a caution.
Just before the interval, Leon Ryan made a timely clearance from Shaun Bell as Whitley retained their 2-1 lead although with a little more luck, they might have been at least three goals ahead.
It seemed inevitable that in the second half Morpeth would seek to press home the extra man advantage, and within four minutes Steven Anderson volleyed across the face of goal after receiving a cross from the left.
Then Bell was narrowly off target from 15 yards as the visitors enjoyed more of the possession.
On the hour, McFarlane sent a low shot just beyond the far post but two minutes later Dan Gladstone twice denied Morpeth with outstanding saves.
Firstly he thwarted substitute Jordan Fry before making a superb save to push a goalbound effort onto the bar and away from danger.
In the 65th minute Bird was unlucky to see his shot crash off the bar after cutting inside a defender and getting a sight of goal.
It was the third time that Whitley had been denied by the frame of the goal, and it was just about the last chance they created.
With 17 minutes to go Morpeth drew level, perhaps inevitably through Chilton, after a mistake in the Bay defence.
With his side now looking for victory, Lee Waugh, who was Morpeth’s second sub, saw Gladstone push his shot over the bar, but then with nine minutes left, the game took another twist when a foul by Hiftle saw the Morpeth defender dismissed after receiving a second yellow card.
With Paul Chow, although not fully fit, having come off the bench a few minutes earlier, Whitley appeared to be back in with a chance of snatching victory, but their hopes of even claiming one point were dashed almost immediately when dreadful defending let in Fry to give Morpeth the lead for the first time in the game.
To make matters even worse, Michael Laws was booked in the closing stages, meaning that like Reid, he too will be suspended for the Bedlington game as it is his fifth caution of the season.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, McFarlane, McDonald, Ellison, Ryan, Reid, Godsmark (Chow 79), Laws, Watling, Robinson, Bird. Subs not used: Smith, Buzzeo, Redford, Harris.