WHITLEY Bay extended their unbeaten run to five games with a well deserved victory at Shildon on Saturday.
But the win was marred by controversy as the home side hotly disputed a red card for keeper Keith Finch which resulted in a Bay penalty, which was tucked away by Paul Chow.
The visitors were already one up through a Lee Kerr volley when the keeper was sent off seven minutes from time.
Defender Daryll Hall had failed to head clear and Chow broke clear on goal.
The Bay striker collided with Finch on the edge of the area and the assistant immediately flagged for a penalty.
Most in the Dean Street ground felt the incident took place outside the area.
Shildon boss Gary Forrest was also sent to the stands for disputing the decision.
It was some time before the spot kick could be taken, and with no substitute keeper on the bench, former Bay striker Adam Johnston was forced to don the gloves.
But he was unable to keep out Chow’s powerful drive.
And the ten men of Shildon were unable to make any inroads on the two-goal deficit in the closing minutes as they were consigned to only their second league defeat of the season.
Having won impressively at Bishop Auckland in midweek, Bay manager Ian Chandler felt Saturday’s win rounded off a good week for his side.
“I thought with the back four we had out today, we were comfortable in the first half.
“Then we went in front with a great strike from Sparky (Kerr) and were never really troubled.
“We don’t often come away from Shildon with a win.”
Chandler admitted that on another day the penalty decision might not have gone Whitley’s way and it could have been a yellow card rather than red.
Bay went in to the game with Brian Smith and LeePaul Scroggins were ruled out through injury while Denver Morris was unavailable and Ash Davis, who took a knock in Wednesday evening’s game, on the bench.
But Callum Anderson returned after fracturing a bone in his hand four weeks ago.
James Novak and James Fairley were also back in the side while youngster Andy Robertson, who came off the bench against Bishop Auckland, was given his full debut.
The first half was largely uneventful with neither side creating a great deal in terms of goalmouth action.
Robertson went close for Bay after a long ball from Paul Robinson, and a speculative lob from Fairley dropped well wide of goal.
Shildon, surprisingly operated with only Johnston up front and created very little.
The game sparked into life with an hour played when Chris Fawcett crossed the ball from the left and Robinson’s shot was blocked. It was cleared only as far as Kerr on the edge of the area and he volleyed a tremendous shot past Finch to put Whitley ahead.
Fairley, who had been booked a few minutes earlier, was replaced by Craig Smith for the final quarter of the game.
A rare strike by the home side from the long serving Richmond failed to trouble Kyle Hayes and a header from Richard Flynn was also off target.
With 18 minutes left, Robertson, who had worked hard and given a good account of himself, was substituted, with Davis taking his place alongside Chow.
A Shildon free kick from wide on the right brought gasps from the home fans as the ball from Robert Briggs flew beyond everyone in the Bay goalmouth and out of play near the corner flag.
That was about as close as the home side came to scoring all game, as they failed to get a single shot on target, giving Hayes one of his quietest games and only his second clean sheet of the season.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Brooking, Novak, Anderson, Reid, Fairley (C Smith 65 mins), Fawcett, Robertson (Davis 72 mins), Kerr (McMullen 87 mins) Chow, Robinson.