Whitley Bay scored four times in an amazing last 15 minutes to snatch a 5-3 victory in a keenly contested and thoroughly entertaining local derby against Newcastle Benfield on Tuesday evening.
With nine first team players unavailable, several youngsters from the Reserves were brought into the squad with defender Ryan Keltie making his debut, while teenager midfielder Dillon Blake was also in the starting line-up for the first time this season.
Benfield took an early lead when Dan Taylor squeezed the ball just inside the post with only seven minutes on the clock.
Whitley fought back strongly and created a series of chances but determined defending by the visitors kept them out until two minutes before the interval when Paul Chow turned his marker and fired a low shot past Andrew Grainger from 15 yards to send the sides in level at the break.
Less than 60 seconds after the resumption, Blake was penalised for a foul inside the Bay 18-yard-box and Benfield were awarded a penalty which captain Paul Brayson comfortably converted to put the visitors back in front.
Once again Whitley battled back and Robbie Bird went close before Peter Watling had a shot blocked.
In the 69th minute, with Whitley pressing forward again, a counter attack saw Taylor seize on the ball before quickly breaking clear on goal and he slotted it past the oncoming Gladstone to put Benfield 3-1 ahead and seemingly out of reach.
Blake, who had looked impressive on his return to the first team, was replaced by debutant Tom Potter, another teenager for the final quarter, and he too was far from overawed by the occasion and looked a good prospect, attacking from midfield as Whitley attempted to get back in the game.
Fifteen minutes from time Watling had a shot saved by Grainger but when the ball ran loose, it was played back into the area where the Bay striker made no mistake, drilling it home from 15 yards.
The goal gave Whitley renewed hope and within two minutes a dangerous cross from Jonny Godsmark only just eluded assistant manager Steve Foster, who had come off the bench ten minutes earlier.
With just five minutes left, an excellent ball from Leon Ryan found Godsmark on the Bay right and he raced into the box before powering a low shot past Grainger to level the score.
Benfield were under real pressure as Whitley, not content to settle for a point, poured forward in wave after wave of attacks.
Two minutes from time Watling mesmerised the Benfield defence and rounded off a superb solo effort by firing the ball into the roof of the net to send the Bay fans into raptures.
To their credit, Benfield refused to lie down and with the game in stoppage time they forced two corners, with Grainger coming up to support his side’s efforts to rescue a point.
The second corner was cleared and quickly played upfield with all 22 players still in the Bay half. As players raced back, the ball took an enormous ricochet and rebounded towards the visitors’ goal. With Grainger out of position, Robbie Bird outsprinted the tiring Benfield rearguard, reached the ball near the byline and cut it back before drilling it into the net to complete an incredible comeback with what turned out to be the final kick of the game.
This was in the end a deserved victory and a triumph for Whitley’s youngsters whose exuberance and battling spirit was a joy to watch.
The win was Whitley’s third in a week and thrilled manager Ryan and the Bay fans who witnessed one of the most stunning comebacks seen at Hillheads for many a year.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Keltie, McDonald, Blake (Potter 73), Ryan, Reid, Godsmark, Redford, Watling, Chow (Foster 66), Bird. Subs not used: Harris, Redpath, Brennan.