Whitley Bay's unbeaten start to league season ends at South Shields
Whitley Bay's unbeaten start to the league season came to an end against big-spending South Shields at Mariners Park.
But it was only in the final 20 minutes that the home side took control of the game, coming from behind after two goals from Adam Shanks had given Whitley an interval lead.
Bay manager Ian Chandler commented: “It was always going to be tough.
“They’ve got a lot of good players and a lot of depth but at 2-1 at half time I thought we’re in it, we’ve got a chance and we’re creating chances.
“Then we had two more chances after half time, Alex hit the bar and Kyle screwed one wide and then it was saved.
“That was all the difference really, but I think we were missing big Ross.
“We did as well as we could, we were just a bit weak in the squad we didn’t have the reinforcements to put on defensively.
“Losing Nicky Allen was a big miss. If we’d had a full squad it might have been a different result.”
Shields took the lead following good play on the left by David Carson.
His ball into the box almost cleared Callum Anderson who could only nod it into the path of Jon Shaw and the former Gateshead striker calmly drove the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
Whitley drew level just before the half hour when Kempster made a good run down the left and his low cross into the goalmouth was poked home from close range by Adam Shanks.
Whitley took the lead with what was almost a carbon copy of their first goal.
Kempster again broke down the left but this time his pin-point cross was met by a bullet header from Shanks, getting between the Shields defenders and giving Carmichael no chance.
In the second half, rowing pressure from the hosts paid dividends after they made two changes and it was one of the substitutes, former Bay winger Wayne Phillips, who brought the Mariners level, slotting home at the back post after a tremendous ball played from defence by Arca found Palmer, whose crossed the ball low into the goalmouth.
Six minutes later, South Shields regained the lead when Finnigan flicked on an excellent cross from fellow sub Briggs and the ball was deflected into the net off the legs of the unlucky Steve Gibson.
Shields made the game safe with a fourth goal after 82 minutes. Following several determined challenges in the Bay 18 yard box, the ball fell kindly for Finnigan and he slotted the ball past Flynn from 10 yards.
There was still time for both Shaw and Briggs to go close for the Mariners while at the other end, a 25 yard shot from McDonald brought a fine save from Carmichael in stoppage time.
The difference between the sides was the strength in depth of the Shields’ squad, whose substitutes all contributed to their side’s second half recovery.
For Whitley, despite the disappointment of losing their unbeaten record, there was no disgrace in defeat by a side that will surely be challenging for honours at the end of the season.
WHITLEY BAY: Flynn, Gibson, McDonald, Haley, Anderson, Eleftheriadis, Potter, Fowler, Shanks(Patton 75mins), Fryatt(Blake 75mins), Kempster
Referee: Adam Nichol
Cautions: Gibson, Haley, Anderson. Sent off: Eleftheriadis
Whitley are away to Jarrow Roofing in Saturday before returning to Hillheads on Tuesday evening for a derby game against Ashington.