Whitley’s poor run of home form continued with a narrow defeat by Jarrow Roofing. The wintry weather once again badly affected the Northern League fixtures and this game went ahead with players having to contend with difficult conditions on a very heavy pitch.
Despite their lowly position, the visitors had shown impressive form against two of the top sides in recent weeks and they began confidently, taking the lead inside the third minute as they capitalised on slack Bay defending. Caught out by a quickly played free kick, Whitley allowed Dennis Knight space inside the six yard box to head home a cross from the left by David Palmer.
Five minutes later a 20 yard effort from Alex Kempster was saved low down by Newbrook but play quickly swung back to the other end and there was a lengthy delay when Palmer went in late on Tom Flynn and caught the Bay keeper on his arm, causing a nasty injury that required treatment. The Roofing man was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for what was a dangerous challenge.
Things went from bad to worse for Whitley in the 12th minute when Walton played the ball through to Liam Anderson on the left edge of the Bay penalty area and his shot beat Flynn who still looked to be hampered by the injury to his arm.
After such a disastrous start, Whitley needed to get back in the game quickly and they did just that seven minutes later. Kempster set up the goal when he played the ball in from the right and Liam Brooks volleyed an excellent 15 yard shot into the ground and the ball flew past Newbrook and in off the post to continue the young striker’s good scoring record in recent weeks.
Palmer wasted a good chance to restore his side’s two goal lead in the 24th minute when through on goal but his attempt was thwarted by Flynn who saved well.
Whitley were forced into a substitution two minutes later when Callum Johnston took a tumble and suffered an elbow injury. Unable to continue and requiring an x-ray to assess the extent of the injury, he was replaced by Matty Cornish.
There was little further goalmouth action until the final seconds of the half when Roofing’s Paul Gardiner curled a shot just beyond the far post after turning past Noah Summers on the right of the Bay penalty area.
As in the first half, the visitors started strongly when the game resumed after the interval and it was the former Bay Vase winning hero Lee Kerr who played a neat one-two inside the box before slotting the ball past Flynn to give Roofing a 3-1 lead with just five minutes played.
Controlling midfield, Kerr showed all of his quality in distribution of the ball and was by some distance the game’s outstanding player.
Tom Potter might have reduced the arrears seven minutes later as he attempted to curl a shot round Newbrook from a narrow angle on the right. There were gasps from the crowd as the ball just cleared the far past with the keeper stranded. A minute later good work by Cornish on the left set up a chance for Patton who swivelled inside the box but his shot was blocked by a packed defence.
A back header by Jack Walker was intercepted by Roofing substitute John Campbell but Flynn made a vital save to keep Whitley in the contest.
Into the final quarter of the game, Whitley were beginning to put pressure on the visitors but they were unable to break down a strong and physical rearguard until the 77th minute when substitute Peter Glen-Ravenhill, who looked sharp on his return from injury, rose to head home Cornish’s left wing corner.
Soon after coming off the bench, youngster Cam Cunningham drilled a shot straight at Newbrook from another left wing corner and then Kempster’s free kick from just outside the box was deflected behind off a defender. Further shots were blocked as Whitley tried all they could to rescue a point but the Roofing defence was resolute and at times rode their luck as they held out for victory.
Had Whitley played the whole game as they did in the final stages it could have been a very different outcome but they were always under pressure after conceding those two early goals.