Whitley Bay made a disastrous start to the new season, losing their two opening games at home and conceding eight goals in the process.
Following Saturday’s opening 5-1 defeat at the hands of Dunston UTS, Bay suffered a further setback on Tuesday evening when Bedlington Terriers left Hillheads with all three points.
But while Tuesday’s 3-0 score would suggest a comfortable victory for Bedlington, nothing could have been further from the truth.
A severely depleted Bay squad created the vast majority of chances, hitting the woodwork three times and going close on countless more occasions whereas the Terriers were restricted to a handful of opportunities.
But to their credit, the visitors made the most of what came their way and took their chances well.
A combination of injuries and holiday commitments meant Whitley were without almost all of the defence that started the game against Dunston, and there were no fewer than eight first team squad members unavailable.
With so many absentees, there was a return for a former Bay stalwart, midfielder Robbie Livermore, who has been playing for the reserves and was among the substitutes.
Whitley started well and after five minutes a long throw-in from the left was headed on by Craig Smith and Paul Antony drove the ball just over the bar.
Following a rash challenge by Sean McRoberts which earned the Terriers midfielder a yellow card, Ryan McGorrigan fired a low shot across the face of the visitors goal and beyond the far post.
Jarrett Rivers then cut through the Bedlington defence to bring a save from McCafferty.
On 21 minutes Whitley almost took the lead when Liam Harris produced an excellent cross from the right and Chris Fawcett headed inches over.
It was almost constant Whitley pressure and when Mark Convery floated a corner from the left, Rivers shot just wide.
Having survived the opening half hour, Bedlington then gave Whitley a lesson in clinical finishing when in a rare attack, Phil Bannister turned inside the box and fired a shot past Jonny Ball to put the visitors ahead.
Back came Whitley and after a surging run saw Callum Anderson send a teasing low ball across the face of goal but McCafferty dived to make the save just in front of Paul Chow.
A minute later a snap shot from Rivers crashed off the post with McCafferty rooted to the spot.
Two minutes before the interval, Fawcett should have levelled the score but his back post header went just the wrong side of the upright.
It was Bedlington’s turn to be denied by the woodwork early in the second half, the ball rebounding off the outside of the near post and out of play.
A deflected volley from Antony flew just wide before the Terriers doubled their lead in the 56th minute with an impressive long range effort from Martin Brittain that went in off the post.
The chances continued to come as Whitley kept battling away, with Chow heading over then substitute Brian Smith volleyed wide from an Antony corner.
With 20 minutes to go, Fawcett looked certain to score but his header from Antony’s cross was pushed onto the bar by McCafferty and bounced down on the line before being cleared.
McGorrigan smashed a shot off the post just five minutes later, then following Bay claims for a penalty, play immediately transferred to the other end and Bedlington substitute Dylan Williamson wrapped up the points with a third goal for the visitors
Whitley were looking increasingly stretched at the back and a long range effort from Brittain skimmed the bar before Ball raced out to smother a shot from Williamson when a fourth goal looked inevitable.
This was a relatively rare piece of action for the young Bay keeper, in marked contrast to his opposite number, who kept out attempts on target from both Rivers and McGorrigan in the closing stages.
Both of these two youngsters posed problems for the Bedlington defence, with Rivers catching the eye of many fans, while Liam Harris, whose only previous start was at Celtic Nation last April, looked a good prospect.
It was also good to see another teenager, midfielder Kyle Downey, play the full 90 minutes for only the second time.
Another positive to take from the evening was that in contrast to the Dunston game, Whitley kept battling away for the full 90 minutes and created numerous chances.
However, manager Ian Chandler was not prepared to blame this defeat on bad fortune.
“We had a very, very young team, so it was in some respects a pleasing display, but the bottom line is we came away with no points which is not good enough.
“I’m sick of the ‘unlucky’ tag, you make your own luck and with better finishing from most on the field we’d have been in front and on our way to three points without a doubt.”
Whitley Bay: Ball, Convery (Robertson 58 mins), Harris (B Smith 65 mins), Anderson, C Smith (Blake 70 mins), Downey, Fawcett, Antony, Chow, McGorrigan, Rivers. Subs not used: Day, Livermore.