Whitley Bay 5
Crook Town 0
In their final game of the season, Whitley cruised to a comfortable victory over bottom of the table Crook Town.
Three goals in the first 15 minutes put Whitley firmly in control with Robbie Bird scoring twice against his former side.
Just 60 seconds had elapsed when Bird’s cross from the right found Watling 10 yards from goal and Bay’s leading scorer had time to control the ball before driving a low shot past keeper Ryan Graham. A dangerous challenge by Crook’s Colin White produced a brief flare-up in midfield after just four minutes but Whitley were soon back on the attack and when Scott Blandford threaded a perfect ball through the Crook defence, Bird raced clear and comfortably beat Graham to double the lead with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Barely two minutes later, Bird burst through a static Crook defence and drilled the ball home from 15 yards.
It was all looking very easy but to Whitley’s credit they were capitalising on their opportunities with clinical finishing.
The visitors posed little real threat in attack and Bay keeper Dan Gladstone was rarely troubled. One moment of hope for Crook came in the 32nd minute when defender Peter Brown broke forward on a long run down the right but his final ball was comfortably cleared by the Whitley defence.
The game was being played mostly in the Crook half and Phil Cave was proving effective down the left while Paul Robinson went close on at least two occasions with shots from the edge of the penalty area.
Five minutes before half-time, Whitley extended their lead with a fourth goal. Alex Kempster, who looked lively throughout the game, crossed from the right wing and Watling’s first time shot from 10 yards left Graham helpless.
Both sides made changes at the interval, with Whitley bringing on Callum Anderson in place of Phil Cave.
The second half saw Whitley comfortably in control but with little goalmouth action until the 72nd minute, when Watling turned provider, chasing a ball to the by-line before crossing to Alex Kempster who turned and fired home the fifth goal from 12 yards.
Robbie Bird kept plugging away in search of a hat trick goal and twice went close, while substitute Jack Stanger drove a shot just over the bar following good approach work from Chris McDonald.
Manager Paddy Atkinson was pleased with the performance and picked out Scott Blandford as his man of the match.
He said: “He’s the sort of player who often goes unnoticed in midfield but I thought he had a good game today. Of course Robbie Bird deserves a mention for his goals and effort, along with Peter Watling.”
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Day, McDonald, Cave(Anderson 45mins), Laws(Norris 56mins), Reid, Bird, Robinson(Stanger 69mins), Watling, Blandford, Kempster. Substitutes not used: H Laws, King
Referee: Paul Newhouse