Whitley Bay through to meet Bedlington Terriers in FA Vase

Paul Robinson celebrates scoring Whitley Bay's fourth goal against South Shields.
Paul Robinson celebrates scoring Whitley Bay's fourth goal against South Shields.
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Four times winners of the FA Vase Whitley Bay will travel to bedlington Terriers in the next round of the FA Vase.

They were in Monday’s draw after a 4-3 win at Hillheads over South Shields on Saturday.

But they did not make it easy for themselves.

Three times they allowed the Mariners back into the game after looking comfortably in control.

But despite a few anxious moments they deservedly ran out winners of an entertaining tie.

The visitors, managed by former Bay players Jon King and Lee Bell, have made a good start to the season and began the tie in confident style, with Paul Kane firing just wide in the third minute.

However, it was Whitley who took an early lead when with six minutes played, Craig McFarlane cut in from the right and when his shot was blocked, the ball rebounded into the path of Robbie Bird who gleefully lashed it into the net from eight yards, giving keeper Steven Hubery no chance.

Two minutes later an effort from Paul Chow was deflected wide and from Paul Robinson’s corner, Michael Laws headed wide.

Whitley were well on top but their lead lasted only four minutes.

With the visitors under pressure, there appeared no danger when the ball was cleared as far as the centre circle but just inside the Shields half, Craig Smith miss controlled the ball and allowed Lee Maitland to whip it off his toes and release Kane on the left with a clear run on goal. He closed in on Dan Gladstone before beating the advancing Bay keeper with a low shot into the far corner to level the score.

Whitley responded with Bird latching onto a ball from Robinson then ghosting past an opponent before testing Hubery with a shot that the keeper pushed wide.

The Mariners gradually came more into the game and Gladstone saved from Molloy.

On the half hour, McFarlane’s cross from the right reached Chris McDonald, whose shot was blocked by the Shields defence.

Three minutes later Whitley regained the lead when after Robinson’s shot had been blocked, Bird seized on the loose ball with a clinical close range finish.

Further pressure saw shots from Robinson and Chow kept out by Hubery, but after 38 minutes, Whitley went two in front when Brad Brooking burst forward down the right and crossed to the back post where Chow extended his record breaking FA Vase goals tally to 38 with a header beyond the reach of Hubery.

Whitley might have put the game beyond the Mariners with a minute of the half remaining but Bird clipped the ball over the bar after being set clear by Robinson.

At the interval it appeared plain sailing for the home side, but five minutes into the second hal another defensive error handed Shields a lifeline.

The unfortunate Smith once again failed to control the ball, this time in a defensive position where a first time clearance would probably have been a better option than attempting to dribble the ball away from goal. In an attempt to retrieve possession, he brought down Adam Sharp and conceded a penalty, which Kane comfortably converted, sending Gladstone the wrong way from the spot.

As with the first Shields goal, Whitley were quick to retaliate and just 60 seconds later the lively Bird was unlucky not to complete his hat-trick when his shot from McFarlane’s cross struck the post.

Two minutes later, Bird cut in from the left and with defenders backing off he took the ball across the face of goal before dragging his shot wide of the target.

Ten minutes into the half, Whitley had a lucky escape when Sharp blazed over with the goal at his mercy after a defensive slip let in Talbot.

Just 90 seconds later, the visitors were made to pay for their miss when Whitley re-established a two-goal lead.

A good advantage played by referee Michael Gillespie saw McDonald race down the centre of the field and to the delight of the Bay fans, the ball was released to Robinson who drilled a powerful shot past Hubery from 15 yards for his first goal since returning to Hillheads two weeks ago.

Once again, the game looked to be won but Whitley flattered to deceive as for the third time a defensive error kept the Mariners’ hopes afloat.

Substitute David Conroy played the ball forward to Kane whose 30-yard shot looked more speculative than threatening, and although it swerved as it approached Gladstone, the Bay keeper should have made the save but rooted to the spot he allowed it to fly past him and into the net.

However, all credit is due to Kane who took his chance well and his hat-trick had certainly kept his side in the tie.

With a quarter of the game remaining, there was still everything to play for but Whitley always looked the likelier side to add to their score.

An excellent move cut open the Shields defence when a ball in from the right was headed across goal by Bird to Chow whose reverse header flew inches past the post.

A minute later and another Chow effort was narrowly off target.

Three minutes later Chow yet again went close, this time with a header from McFarlane’s cross.

With 18 minutes left, Bird deservedly received a rousing reception as he left the field to be replaced by Chris Reid, who continued his rehabilitation following injury with an assured performance in defence.

Maitland fired over the bar for the Mariners as they battled for an equaliser that would have sent the tie into extra time, but it was Whitley who went nearest in the closing stages when McDonald played the ball through to man of the match Robinson who was only denied a second by an excellent point blank save from Hubery.

Into stoppage time, Robinson’s dangerous ball across the six-yard box just eluded both Chow and substitute Stephen Buzzeo, but it was not long before Whitley could celebrate victory.

Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Brooking, McDonald, Ellison (Buzzeo 50), Laws, Smith, McFarlane, Anderson, Robinson, Chow, Bird (Reid 72). Subs not used: Ryan, Redford, Godsmark.