Whitley Bay beaten by disputed goal at Shildon

Whitley Bay's Peter Watling on the attack against Shildon on Saturday.

Whitley Bay's Peter Watling on the attack against Shildon on Saturday.

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A hotly disputed goal 14 minutes from time proved decisive as Whitley Bay suffered a narrow defeat at Dean Street.

Shildon picked up the three precious points to keep their title challenge on track.

The goal came when the referee’s assistant signalled a Sam Hodgson header had crossed the line, despite Phil Cave appearing to have cleared it in time.

The combination of a strong, blustery wind and a poor playing surface hampered the efforts of both sides, with flowing football at a premium.

Whitley had the wind at their backs in the first half and early on Chris McDonald seized on a poor clearance but his shot failed to find the target.

With just five minutes played, the injury woes that have affected both sides in recent weeks struck again with Shildon’s centre back Darren Craddock stretchered off and taken to hospital with a bad knee injury.

Former Bay midfielder LeePaul Scroggins came off the bench as the home side had to reshuffle their defence.

Three minutes later, with Whitley trying to capitalise on the situation, Jake Richardson was only narrowly off target but as the game progressed, increasing numbers of passes went astray with neither goalkeeper put under any great pressure.

Whitley were unable to capitalise on the wind advantage while at the other end, Sean McCafferty comfortably saved a Scroggins’ free kick and shortly before the interval, Connor burst through but could not find the target.

Just before the break, Alex Kempster nearly set up a chance for Paul Robinson, but home keeper Lewis Graham was not troubled.

With the elements now in their favour, Shildon began to gain the upper hand in the second half, forcing Whitley back on the defensive.

Just before the hour mark McCafferty made a fine save to deny Paul Connor. Three minutes later the same player blazed a shot high over the bar as the Railwaymen pushed more men forward.

Carl Jones scooped the ball high over the bar from close range but Whitley were defending with determination and it was looking increasingly likely that the game would end in stalemate.

With 15 minutes left McCafferty made another fine save, pushing a goalbound effort over the bar for a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Sam Hodgson got his head to the ball, and although Phil Cave made the clearance, the referee’s assistant positioned near the corner flag signalled that the ball had crossed the line and a goal was awarded.

The protests of Cave and two fellow defenders led to all three being cautioned before the game restarted.

Understandably, Shildon were now content to play out time with their narrow advantage, and while Whitley huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, they could not find a way through the well marshalled home rearguard.

Whitley Bay: McCafferty, Cave (Norris 88), McDonald, Richardson (King 50), M Laws, Reid, Day, Robinson, Watling, H Laws, Kempster. Subs not used: Gladstone, Stanger.