HAVING scored only five goals in their previous six games, Whitley Bay hit form in devastating style on Wednesday evening as they recorded one of their biggest ever away wins in completely overwhelming a Norton side who went into the game on a five-match unbeaten run.
Whitley have failed to clear the first hurdle in the League Cup for the past two seasons, but the outcome of this tie was never seriously in doubt once Paul Chow had opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
Ashley Davis, just signed from Blyth Spartans, made his debut with James Fairley dropping to the bench in the only change from the side that played at Dunston on Saturday.
On a fine and calm autumn evening, Whitley made the most of the excellent playing surface and were soon putting pressure on the home defence.
Less than nine minutes had been played when Lee Kerr’s precise pass found Chow on the left side of the penalty area and his low shot across goal beat the dive of Jim Provett to put Whitley in front.
Four minutes later, Chow went close again when he headed Chris Fawcett’s cross past the post.
Norton were making little impression as an attacking force and it was not until the 18th minute when Hayes made his first save, comfortably collecting the ball from Peter Bulmer’s 15-yard strike.
But Whitley maintained their superiority and LeePaul Scroggins was played through a faltering defence only to see his shot flash inches wide.
Three minutes later a Denver Morris effort hit the bar as Norton struggled to get the ball out of their own half.
Davis was making his presence felt in attack, showing electrifying pace that saw him win possession and worry the home defence, giving Chow more space than in recent games.
A second goal looked increasingly likely and it came just after the half hour when Morris was the provider for Chow to double Whitley’s and his own tally.
Morris almost made it 3-0 six minutes before half-time with a stinging drive but Provett made a fingertip save, pushing the ball round the post.
The save came at a cost, however, as the former Hartlepool keeper was injured and had to leave the field with a cracked rib.
Fortunately for Norton, they had another keeper, James Hamilton, on the bench, but they suffered another blow just before the interval when striker Richie Storr was also injured.
There was still time for Whitley to threaten another goal when Chow provided Davis with a chance which was only just off target.
The debutant was not to be denied and nine minutes after the break, he latched on to Chris Fawcett’s cross and drove the ball past Hamilton to put Whitley three up.
The visitors were playing some excellent flowing football and when Chow cut the ball back from the by-line, Morris played it wide on the right to Craig McFarlane, who in turn crossed into the goalmouth where Paul Robinson got ahead of the bemused home defence to finish off the move with the fourth goal.
Bay by this stage were rampant, and when Norton were penalised just outside their 18-yard box, Kerr’s perfectly flighted free kick flew into the top corner for the fifth goal of the night.
Norton briefly fought back and when Karl Richards went past substitute Daryll Donnelly he was clear on goal and fired a low shot beyond Hayes for what was little more than a consolation goal.
Whitley were not finished and when Morris played a delightful chip ball over the Norton defence, Chow gleefully headed it home to complete his hat trick and put Whitley 6-1 ahead.
Two minutes later it was Chow’s turn to be provider for the impressive Fawcett who fired home the seventh goal.
It was non-stop action and four goals had been scored in a hectic eight-minute spell.
To their credit, Norton did not lie down and kept battling to the end, but they were a well beaten side and two minutes from time Whitley made it 8-1 when Morris deservedly got his first goal for the club following good work from Scroggins.
It was fitting that alongside Chow’s hat-trick, the goals were shared among five others as this was a team performance where every player made their contribution.
It was a game that should do wonders for confidence and with a home tie against Consett in the next round, Whitley can be optimistic of making further progress in the competition.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, McFarlane (C Smith 73 mins), Fawcett, Reid, B Smith (Donnelly 66 mins), Scroggins, Morris, Davis (Fairley 57 mins), Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Subs not used: Walker, Rowe.