A GOAL seven minutes into stoppage time gave Whitley Bay what can best be described as a fortunate victory over Newton Aycliffe on Saturday.
The visitors, who had won both of the two previous meetings between the sides, created enough chances to have secured another victory long before Brian Smith’s looping header nestled in the corner of the net.
However, along with Aycliffe’s wayward finishing, excellent work by keeper Kyle Hayes and defender Callum Anderson kept Whitley in with a chance which they took with a well worked goal.
This was FA Vase semi-final day and for the first time in five years, the centre of interest was away from Whitley Bay, but there was still a healthy attendance of 331 on a bright and breezy afternoon.
Prolonged dry weather has left most non league playing surfaces hard and in less than ideal condition, but this cannot explain a lethargic Bay display in which they produced very little goalmouth action, especially in the first half.
After Aycliffe’s Warren Byrne had wasted a good chance with a wayward shot, Whitley were almost gifted a chance when keeper Scott Pocklington failed to hold the ball from Lee Kerr’s corner and was lucky to gather it at the second attempt as it rolled across the goalmouth.
Former Hartlepool defender Darren Craddock headed over the Whitley bar following a free kick while on the stroke of half-time Chow’s header from Chris Fawcett’s cross flew inches over the bar.
Newton Aycliffe, with former Bay defender Steve Gibson in their ranks, had enjoyed the better of the exchanges and it was a similar story after the interval.
Only a great save by Hayes kept the scores level seven minutes after the restart when Josh Gray’s deflected shot caught him wrong footed, but his reactions kept the ball out.
Passes were regularly going astray and moves were rapidly breaking down, but midway through the half a rare flowing move involving Paul Robinson and substitute Damon Robson ended with Kerr flicking the ball just wide of goal.
Four minutes later, Hayes was at full stretch to push an effort from Josh Close onto the bar and behind for a corner.
Aycliffe were having the better of the exchanges but Whitley staged a rousing finish while the visitors seemed content to play out time.
Michael McMullen, a second half substitute, made his presence felt with a good run down the right and a cross into the goalmouth was pushed over the bar.
With the game deep into added time, Kerr’s perfectly flighted corner kick reached Smith, whose physical presence since coming on as a late substitute had unsettled the visitors.
On the edge of the six-yard box, Smith sent a looping header over the defenders into the top corner of the net.
Pocklington caught the ball but it was already over the line and the keeper, ball and a defender ended up in the back of the net.
The referee played another two minutes but Whitley held on to record their second 1-0 victory in successive weeks.
The three points keeps Whitley in fifth place, two points clear of Ashington who were held to a draw by Marske, but the Colliers still have two games in hand.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Timmons (McMullen 51 mins), McFarlane, Reid, Williams, Fawcett (Smith 79 mins), Ormston, Anderson, Kerr, Chow (Robson 62 mins), Robinson. Subs not used: Rowe, Coulson.