THE goals flowed yet again at Hillheads as Whitley Bay produced a dazzling display on Tuesday evening to overwhelm struggling Billingham Town and extend their unbeaten league run to 11 games.
Kyle Hayes missed his first game of the season, as did Lee Kerr, while Chris Reid was another absentee, but their replacements played their full part in what was an excellent team performance.
Young keeper Jonny Ball, who spent a short period at the club last season, brought off a fine save from Nicky Martin early in the game before the home side went ahead after 12 minutes when Chris Fawcett slotted the ball home from 15 yards after good work from James Fairley had caused confusion in the Billingham defence.
Fawcett then set up David Pounder for a shot that was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Whitley’s slick, accurate passing was putting the visitors under constant pressure and Fawcett headed only just over from Fairley’s cross after 18 minutes.
Paul Chow then headed wide as Bay searched for a second goal, which duly came after 24 minutes when from James Novak’s pass, Fairley’s shot on target took a deflection off Billingham’s Harrison Davies and left keeper Danny Molyneaux helpless as it flew into the net.
Six minutes later Paul Robinson added the third when poor defending left him unmarked in front of goal and his first time effort from Fairley’s right wing cross put Whitley in complete control.
When Pounder fired in a stinging shot a few minutes later, Molyneaux could not hold onto the ball and Chow pounced to knock it into the net before the keeper could reach it. He accidentally caught the keeper with his shot and although able to continue until half-time, Molyneaux had to be replaced after the interval.
With the game effectively won, Whitley could have been excused for easing up in the second half, but they were forced to defend for a while by a Billingham side that looked determined to put on a better show.
Martin posed their greatest threat but it was Davies who tested Ball after 63 minutes in a rare shot on target.
Probably with an eye on the hectic programme to come – including four games in the week ahead – Whitley made three substitutions, bringing off LeePaul Scroggins, Robinson and Callum Anderson, with Lewis Burns, Andy Robertson and Craig Smith getting half an hour of the action.
Whitley came back strongly in the last 20 minutes, with Pounder having a shot pushed wide by substitute keeper Ryan Hudson before Burns broke through but could not get the vital final touch.
Brad Brooking, as he has done several times this season, then picked up the ball in his own half and went on a surging run down the right wing before cutting into the penalty area and just as he closed in on goal, he was sent sprawling by Dominic Gamble. It was a clear cut penalty and Chow easily beat Hudson from the spot to make it 5-0.
This was Whitley’s 100th competitive goal of the season and took Chow to within five of his 200th goal for the club.
Whitley poured forward in the remaining 16 minutes and Robertson was unlucky not to claim what would have been only his second goal in senior football when his excellent 20-yard strike crashed off the bar with Hudson beaten.
Fawcett then saw a shot pushed wide before youngster Burns clipped the bar with a header.
The final goal came two minutes from time and it was a worthy climax to an excellent Bay performance.
Fairley showed that along with the likes of Lee Kerr and Novak he too is a real threat from set pieces as his 25-yard free kick flew into the top corner of the net, to the delight of the fans who had witnessed as comprehensive a victory they could have wished for.
Billingham are third bottom of the table and may struggle to avoid relegation, but they certainly deserve credit for keeping going throughout a game that was played in an excellent spirit.
For Whitley, every member of the side played their part, but special mention should be given to Fairley Pounder and Fawcett, while the returning Ball proved to be a worthy deputy for Hayes.
Whitley Bay: Ball, Brooking, Novak, Anderson (C Smith 64 mins), Fairley, McFarlane, Pounder, Scroggins (Burns 57 mins), Fawcett, Chow, Robinson (Robertson 57 mins). Subs not used: Kerr, Watson.