Whitley Bay beaten by league leaders Shildon

Whitley Bay's Steve Gibson surges forward in the first half of their game against Shildon.

Whitley Bay's Steve Gibson surges forward in the first half of their game against Shildon.

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Back in action for the first time in five weeks, Whitley Bay could hardly have faced a sterner test than a visit to league leaders Shildon on Saturday.

And it was the home side who came out on top with a hard earned victory.

The visitors started brightly and went close after ten minutes when Phil Lumsden volleyed narrowly wide from a right wing corner.

Two minutes later, former Bay keeper Kyle Hayes completely missed his kick when attempting a clearance leaving Kris Hughes almost in on goal but the ball was cleared to safety.

Shildon then broke away upfield and it took a goal line clearance by Lumsden to avert the danger.

Billy Greulich-Smith proved a handful for the Bay defence all afternoon, and with 16 minutes on the clock, he made a penetrating run from midfield but blazed his shot high over the bar.

Whitley were comfortably holding their own past the midway point of the half only to fall behind on 27 minutes.

A quick throw-in caught them out and when the ball was played into the box it fell perfectly for Ben Wood whose first time effort flew into the roof of the net, giving Dan Gladstone no chance.

Chris Youldon and Adam Shanks linked up well as Whitley battled for an equaliser, but the Railwaymen were beginning to take control of proceedings on an increasingly difficult playing surface.

Three minutes after the interval, Hughes drove a 20-yard shot straight at Hayes, and when play immediately swung to the other end, Paul Connor broke clear but failed to capitalise as he miscued his shot with the ball flying high over the bar.

Seven minutes into the half, Youldon, who had worked hard in midfield, was replaced by debutant Jack Atkinson. The youngster slotted into the defence and gave an encouraging performance alongside the hard working Chris McDonald.

Shortly before the hour mark, Callum Anderson, who gave every ounce of energy in a tremendous battling display, played Sam Norris clear on the left of the box but the gilt edged chance was lost as Hayes deflected the ball away for a corner.

Perhaps the decisive moment of the game came after 65 minutes when Ben Wood burst through on goal. Gladstone raced off his line and although he got a touch on the ball, he was adjudged to have brought the Shildon man down inside the box and referee Christopher Keightley immediately awarded a penalty.

With many Bay fans fearing that the young Bay keeper would be sent off, the referee consulted his assistant before showing Gladstone just a yellow card. Anthony Bell confidently despatched the spot kick into the bottom corner of the net to give the hosts a two-goal lead.

A little belatedly, Whitley brought on a second striker with midweek signing Jack Foalle making his debut.

The move added impetus to their attack with the former Seaton Delaval man looking lively alongside Shanks.

But the heavy conditions took their toll on the visitors and in the final 15 minutes they ran out of steam with the hosts creating but failing to make the most of several chances.

Gladstone did well to deny Wood a second goal when he got his fingers to the ball to push it away from the on-rushing striker.

Substitutes Lewis Wing and Michael Rae also had opportunities to extend the lead but were denied by dogged defending coupled with some profligate finishing.

Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Lumsden (Bell 77), McDonald, Anderson, Laws (Foalle 68), Flynn, Norris, Gibson, Shanks, Youldon (Atkinson 52), Hughes. Subs not used: R Williamson, Stanger

Attendance: 229.