West Auckland 2-0 Whitley Bay
After an evenly contested first half, Whitley fell behind immediately after the interval and a second goal three minutes from full time ensured that West Auckland emerged winners of a hard fought game.
With Tom Flynn unavailable, Whitley handed a debut to keeper Andy Hunter while Callum Anderson returned following injury.
West Auckland created the first chance inside the first five minutes but Amar Purewal headed wide from a right wing cross. Playing up the slope, Whitley might have taken a fortuitous lead in the 12th minute when Ryan Redford’s cross into the box appeared to be caught in the wind and crashed off the top of the angle of bar and post.
Chances were few and far between with defences on top and Whitley’s next opportunity did not come until the 29th minute, when Craig McFarlane cut the ball back from near the right by-line and Redford had two attempts on goal blocked.
The best chance of the half came two minutes later and Redford was involved again, slotting an excellent ball through the Auckland defence to Olly Martin who timed his run well but his shot from the edge of the box was well blocked by keeper Shane Bland.
However, Whitley appeared to be caught cold at the start of the second half and just 70 seconds after the resumption the hosts took the lead. The goal came when Dowson crossed from the right and Purewal found himself unmarked inside the six yard box and headed past the stranded Hunter.
Nine minutes into the half Whitley might have equalised after Martin appeared to be chasing a lost cause down the right but reached the ball just in time and cut it back from the by-line beyond the Auckland defence. With the goal almost at his mercy, Luke Salmon stretched to try and reach the ball but agonisingly he could not make sufficient contact and the opportunity was gone.
Hunter made a fine save from substitute Heaney and Glen-Ravenhill fired over the bar from Ardelean’s cross.
Tut three minutes from time, Auckland made the game safe with a second goal after they were awarded a free kick on the right edge of the Whitley box. Heaney deceived Hunter as he curled the ball just inside the near post, ending Bay’s lingering hopes.