Whitley Bay’s first home friendly was a high profile midweek fixture against Conference play-off finalists Gateshead.
The visitors fielded a near full strength side, which contributed fully to what was an entertaining game for the 407 fans and a valuable work out for both sides.
The home side started strongly with the game being played at a high tempo, and for much of the first half they matched their higher ranked opponents with some neat passing and an impressive work rate.
The first goal of the game came just over two minutes into the second period after Gateshead had made three half-time changes.
Former Newcastle, Carlisle and St Mirren striker Lewis Guy was adjudged by Premier League referee Michael Oliver to have been pushed by Chris Reid as he broke into the 18-yard box and the visitors were awarded a penalty.
Guy’s spot kick was well saved low down by Dan Gladstone but the Bay keeper was unable to hold onto the ball and when it ran loose, Guy pounced to drive it into the net and spare his blushes.
Whitley came close to drawing level four minutes later when Michael Laws sent a bullet header goalwards from Alex Kempster’s free kick, but keeper Adam Bartlett made a tremendous save, pushing the ball away from goal.
Kempster epitomised Whitley’s battling spirit when he had a rare chance to break down the wing and determinedly eluded his marker to get a cross into the goalmouth before the Gateshead defence ended the threat on goal.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Conference side were awarded a second penalty after Gladstone raced out to reach a long ball from midfield ahead of the on-rushing Alex Rodman and Gateshead’s new signing tumbled to the ground.
Marcus Maddison confidently fired the spot kick into the top corner of the net giving Gladstone no chance.
This was undoubtedly Whitley’s best performance of the pre-season so far and one that left manager Leon Ryan very happy with the progress of his side.
The view from Gateshead was that this had been their most valuable work out to date as they prepare for another attempt at regaining their Football League status.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, McFarlane, McDonald, Anderson, Ryan, Reid, Bird, Laws, Watling, Chow, Kempster. Second half substitutes: Day, Harris, P Buzzeo.