Seahorses hold derby bragging rights over Robins

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WHITLEY Bay took the honours in the pre-season derby meeting with North Shields.

Lee Kerr scored twice inside the opening 30 minutes as the Seahorses ran out 2-1 winners.

After the interval it was a more even game, with both sides making a series of substitutions and having to contend with persistent heavy rain.

In a strong starting line-up, Whitley welcomed back Kyle Hayes, Craig McFarlane, LeePaul Scroggins and Paul Chow, all of whom were unavailable for the previous Saturday’s game at home to Airdrie.

There was more than just local rivalry involved in the meeting with the Robins as the opposing captains were brothers, with Paul Robinson up against his goalkeeping brother Michael.

Whitley were soon on the attack with Chris Fawcett posing a threat down the left wing, but when the opening goal came in the ninth minute, it was a ball from the opposite flank that opened up the Robins’ defence.

Robinson wide on the right crossed the ball low into the penalty area where Paul Chow wrong-footed his opponents with a clever step over leaving Kerr in space to fire the ball past keeper Robinson.

In a quick break downfield, Shields striker Adam Rowntree brought Hayes into the action for the first time, forcing him to push a strong shot over the bar.

Back at the other end, Kerr’s cross led to Michael Robinson blocking a shot from his brother before Fawcett’s ball in from the left beat everyone as it flew across goal, with Scroggins only just failing to get the finishing touch.

Another effort from Rowntree tested Hayes’ reflexes before the same player was denied by the upright.

Rowntree apart, Shields were creating little in attack and with Denver Morris coming more into the game for Whitley as pace down both wings tested the Robins.

Morris set up and almost scored Whitley’s second goal in the 29th minute, bursting through on the right before cutting in and drilling the ball wide of the onrushing keeper with Kerr coming in at the back post to tap home from close range.

Scroggins volleyed wide four minutes later as Whitley maintained their superiority.

To his credit Rowntree once again brought an impressive save from Hayes, the Bay keeper pushing a dipping long range shot over the bar.

Five minutes before the interval, Chow’s powerful header from Robinson’s corner was superbly saved at point blank range by the Shields skipper when a third goal looked certain.

Both side made changes at half-time, Whitley bringing on Liam Mooney and James Fairley in place of Hayes and McFarlane while Lee Owens came on for his debut in place of Seb Anzevui and did enough to suggest that he could provide plenty of problems for opposing defences in the coming season.

The rain which had started during the first half was becoming steadily heavier, and with the pitch heavily grassed, control of the ball was becoming tricky with passes often misplaced.

Goalmouth action was more limited as neither side looked likely to find the target.

However, midway through the half, a misplaced pass in the Bay defence was seized on by Dean Holmes to fire past Mooney from ten yards.

The goal roused the home fans in the good size crowd but there were few further incidents of note until the closing stages, when Whitley might have added a third goal but Chow just failed to get on the end of a cross from substitute Michael McMullen.