Chow scores two as Whitley Bay beat Bishop Auckland

Paul Chow celebrates with Bay fans after scoring the first goal.
Paul Chow celebrates with Bay fans after scoring the first goal.

Whitley Bay began life after Ian Chandler with a morale boosting victory in difficult conditions at Bishop Auckland.

The Heritage Park playing surface had been under water during the recent severe weather and it was only because of the sterling efforts of the local ground staff that the pitch, although heavy especially in the centre circle, was declared playable.

Just two days after being appointed temporary manager, Leon Ryan named his first starting 11 and he gave a debut to goalkeeper Mark Cook, signed by Chandler just over a week ago.

Whitley had the benefit of the strong and blustery wind, which was blowing diagonally across the pitch, during the first half but it soon became clear that the wind would prove problematic to both sides when a high ball was blown over the dugouts and into the neighbouring supermarket car park.

Whitley’s first attempt on goal came after ten minutes when Paul Chow had a shot saved by Pocklington.

The home side were making little impression at this stage but after 18 minutes there were vociferous appeals for a penalty from the Bishops players and fans but play was allowed to continue.

Whitley took the lead two minutes later when Michael McMullen was played clear down the middle and he raced through on goal before unselfishly squaring for Chow to slot past Pocklington from close range.

Cook had been a virtual spectator in the early stages but when the home side threatened, he raced out of his goal to attempt a clearance but was mysteriously penalised just outside the penalty area and in the resultant confusion, Tomi Ameobi was cautioned.

A free kick from John Butler clipped the top of the Bay crossbar after 28 minutes, and shortly after a long kick out of goal by Cook reached Callum Hope who played Chow in on goal but he was ruled offside.

The Bay captain was not to be denied a second time, however, when after 31 minutes McMullen raced away down the right wing and when his cross into the goalmouth was fumbled by Pocklington, the predatory Chow was on hand to bundle the ball into the back of the net to give Whitley a two-goal cushion.

McMullen was working hard and looking impressive so it came as a blow when he picked up an ankle injury and had to hobble off shortly before half-time.

With the pitch cutting up badly, the second half proved a stern test with Bay battling the wind as well as their opponents, and they had to withstand lengthy periods of pressure, but it is to their credit that they allowed the home side few shots on goal thanks to some stoic defending, with Ameobi outstanding.

On the hour, Cook blocked a shot from Butler while in a relatively rare excursion to the other end, Whitley went close when McFarlane’s cross from the byline was put wide by Alex Kempster.

Bishops launched a late onslaught in a desperate effort to rescue the game, and six minutes from time Brad Brooking made a welcome return from the bench to bolster the Whitley defence.

Moments later the Bay goal had a fortunate escape when Butler’s shot crashed off the underside of the bar and was cleared.

With four minutes left, with Whitley coming under increasing pressure, a goalmouth scramble ended with the ball flying narrowly wide.

But in the final minute of the 90, the Bay defence was finally breached when Ameobi’s attempt to head a free kick wide of goal resulted in the ball going just inside the post with Cook helpless.

This set up a frantic four minutes of time added on by referee Geoff Liddle, but with tremendous commitment shown by every player in a Bay shirt, Whitley held on to pick up three valuable points and extend their 100 per cent league record at Heritage Park, making it a perfect start for new management duo Leon Ryan and Steve Foster.

Whitley Bay: Cook, McFarlane, McDonald, Buzzeo, Ryan, Ameobi, McMullen (Rivers 44 mins), Anderson, Hope, Chow, Kempster (Brooking 84). Substitutes not used: Smith, Stephenson, Burns.