THE excellent form for Whitley Bay FC continued with their ninth consecutive win as they beat Ashington every bit as convincingly as the 3-0 score suggests.
The contrast in fortunes of the two clubs in recent weeks could hardly be greater, with Ashington having lost four of six games played since going out of the FA Vase in January.
They were a pale shadow of the side that came to Hillheads and knocked Whitley out of the Northumberland Senior Cup just over six weeks ago ,and looked dispirited and short of confidence.
They were also missing the suspended Jonny Godsmark, who caused the Bay defence all sorts of problems in the previous meeting.
Whitley went into the game with youngsters Lee Mason and former Collier Glen Taylor as strike partners, but David Coulson and Gareth Williams were both rested.
From the kick-off Whitley showed their intent as Craig McFarlane fired just wide from Chris Fawcett’s cross.
These two, operating on the wings, tormented the Ashington defence all night showing tremendous pace.
Fawcett should have put Whitley ahead in the third minute when he was through on goal but shot wide.
A minute later McFarlane’s through ball should have been cut out by a defender but Fawcett won it and cut in and drove the ball inches past the post with keeper Steven Mundy helpless.
The same two players combined again in the ninth minute, when McFarlane ran through from the half way line, crossed to Fawcett, whose shot was pushed away by the keeper and McFarlane put the rebound over the bar.
The pressure was almost continuous and it paid off after 14 minutes when Mason’s cross from the left was met by an unmarked McFarlane at the back post.
The pace of the game slowed, but another promising Bay attack involving Mason, Fawcett and Taylor resulted in Paul Robinson sending a first time effort just over the bar.
Damon Robson, whose goal scoring has shone this season, made a run from midfield and was not far away from getting on the score sheet.
At the other end, little was seen of former Bay favourite Phill Bell, the only real threat for the home side coming from long throw-ins into the goalmouth from Jonny Wightman, but Brian Smith, Darren Timmons and Callum Anderson dealt comfortably with them.
After the interval, Lee Kerr and Paul Chow replaced Mason and Taylor, and it took only 21 seconds for Kerr to double Whitley’s lead with a well struck shot across the keeper into the far corner of the net.
Any hopes of a recovery from the home side were dealt a damaging blow by the quick strike, and Whitley maintained the momentum with Chow threatening a third only to see his effort go wide.
Whitley’s third substitute Gary Ormston soon made an impact as he tested Mundy while David Pounder was only denied when his shot took a deflection and went behind.
Chow brought a low save from Mundy after good work from McFarlane, whose fitness was evident as he raced half the length of the pitch to win the ball as Ashington threatened.
This typified Whitley’s determination as players battled to win possession all over the pitch, Kerr, Pounder and Chow also standing out in this respect.
With 15 minutes left, Andrew Johnson, Ashington’s best player on the night, finally brought a save from Kyle Hayes, who pushed an angled shot wide of the far post.
This briefly roused the home fans in the bumper Friday night crowd over more than 500, but it was the Whitley fans who were soon celebrating when Robinson added the third seven minutes from time with a 15-yard shot which deflected in off James Harmison’s arm.
Whitley had a chance to add a fourth in the closing stages when Kerr and Chow cut through an increasingly disheartened Colliers defence, but the game was already won.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, McFarlane, Anderson, Timmons, Smith, Pounder, Fawcett, Robson (Ormston 67 mins), Mason (Kerr 45 mins), Taylor (Chow 45 mins), Robinson. Subs not used: Rowe, Gibson.