Whitley Bay’s hopes of a lucrative FA Cup run were dashed when they fell at the first hurdle as their disappointing start to the season continued.
Following two heavy defeats in the league, the Seahorses lost 2-1 at Team Northumbria on Saturday in the first extra preliminary round.
Once again manager Ian Chandler was forced to field an under strength side with eight players missing through a combination of work, injury and holiday commitments.
New signing midfielder Michael Tait was handed his debut while Brian Smith came into the defence for his first start of the season.
Whitley enjoyed much the better of the first half but despite their possession they could not make the crucial breakthrough as too many misplaced passes saw moves break down.
As in their two previous games, Whitley started in lively fashion with Ryan McGorrigan bringing a save from Andrew Jennison inside the first two minutes.
A free kick from Paul Antony flew over the bar then three minutes later another shot from McGorrigan was spilled by the keeper but fortunately for the home side, there was no Bay player on hand to capitalise on the error.
Jarrett Rivers failed to hit the target when well placed then Jennison palmed a corner from Antony over his bar as the blustery wind made conditions tricky.
Team North only made sporadic attacks and like Whitley they failed to make the most of the opportunities they created.
Chris Fawcett saw a shot saved but there was little more goalmouth action with Bay’s moves breaking down on the edge of the penalty area.
Half-time arrived with the game goal less and the good size crowd hoping for some excitement after the interval.
Team Northumbria looked much more of a threat on the restart, pushing Whitley back on the defensive.
Craig Smith denied the home side, heading a goal bound shot behind for a corner after just two minutes.
Mark Bertram shot wide before Jonny Ball came out quickly to block a shot from Dean Critchlow as the students gained the upper hand.
In a rare break to the other end, Rivers crossed from the right but Paul Chow’s header cleared the bar.
Team Northumbria’s pressure eventually paid dividends when they took the lead after 66 minutes.
Peter Ravenhill cut in from the right and taking advantage of slack marking by the Bay defence he drilled the ball past Ball from ten yards.
The lead was short lived as Whitley responded well, levelling just three minutes later.
The goal came from Antony’s right wing corner, with Chow heading home from six yards, the ball dipping just under the bar.
Bay fans, who made up the vast majority of the crowd, were now hoping that the goal would lift their side and see them go on to victory, but that was not how it turned out.
With 16 minutes to go, Brian Smith was replaced by youngster Liam Harris and it soon appeared that Smith’s experience was being missed as Whitley’s defence struggled to hold out against the students who pushed forward in search of a winner.
Heavy rain swept across the ground in the closing stages of the game and Whitley seemed content to try and hold on for a draw and a replay in midweek.
Ball did well to block a shot from Ravenhill and with conditions becoming increasingly difficult, the ball skidded rapidly across the slippery turf.
It began to look as if Whitley might hold out but six minutes from time, with gaps appearing in the Bay defence, Ravenhill was played clear and he fired past Ball for what proved to be the winner.
The students comfortably played out the remaining minutes to claim the £1,500 prize money and end Whitley’s hopes of a financially rewarding FA Cup run.
For their second half performance, Team Northumbria were worthy of their win, but this was not a game that will live long in the memory of the fans who witnessed it.
Ian Chandler should have more players available for selection in the coming games and it is to be hoped that their return can help to turn around the team’s fortunes.
Whitley Bay: Ball, Fawcett, Convery (Blake 62 mins), Anderson, B Smith (Harris 74 mins), C Smith, Tait, Antony, McGorrigan (Downey 62 mins), Chow, Rivers. Subs not used: Kindley, Perry, Berry.