Whitley Bay included six new signings in their starting 11 as they took the field against Billingham Synthonia at Hillheads on Saturday in what was – due to postponements – their first game in a month.
In a game of few first half chances, Whitley had most of their success down the right wing as both Craig McFarlane and Robbie Bird were able to get beyond the full back and put in some telling crosses, but the Synners defence was able to clear without too much fuss.
The home side might have scored after 12 minutes when Peter Watling elected to shoot when a pass across the line to Bird might have produced a better opportunity.
Debutant keeper Sean McCafferty had little to do in the opening half as the home defence restricted the opportunities of prolific scorer Michael Sweet.
Whitley again went close in the 28th minute when Paul Chow drilled a shot across the goalmouth that just went the wrong side of the post.
The home side got their first corner of the game in first half injury time which resulted in a Watling shot being pushed round the post for another flag kick, but nothing came of that and proved to be the last action of the opening session.
Whitley made a bright start to the second half and in the 52nd minute had a free kick in a promising position, but Alex Kempster’s shot went straight to the Billingham keeper.
Almost immediately the visitors broke down to the other end and only a timely intervention from McFarlane prevented a goal at the expense of a corner.
However, Synners did take the lead soon after when Tommy Marron shot home following a ball over the top and the midfielder was able to slip his effort beyond the advancing McCafferty.
That goal seemed to knock the confidence of the home side and they conceded a second in the 61st minute when Marron was again on hand to put the ball in the back of the net, this time from close range as the Bay defence failed to clear their lines.
In an effort to freshen things up manager Paddy Atkinson made a raft of substitutions, but in the final minute his team fell a further goal behind when Sweet struck, despite McCafferty pulling out a couple of fine stops to prevent the ball entering the net immediately prior to the goal.
Manager Paddy Atkinson said he was disappointed with the result, but felt his ‘new look’ side had performed well in the opening 45 minutes.
“We looked comfortable and played some lovely football, and at half-time I was very pleased with the effort we had put into the game,” he said.
“Yes we have a lot of new faces, but we are in a situation where we are totally re-building the side and things won’t happen overnight.
“But as much as the second half was disappointing from our point of view, we could easily have been a couple of goals up at half-time and then it would have been a different game.
“And that was perhaps what was most disappointing today, from defence to midfield we looked quite good at times, but up front we didn’t create anything much.”
However, once his side went a goal behind they struggled and the boss said he knows that will be a big part of his job over the next few weeks.
He added: “You can see what has been happening here, the confidence of the players has gone and once they are behind we find it difficult to raise our game.”
With all the new additions Whitley now have a large squad and the manager knows part of his job will be to trim the number of players.
“I only want players who want to play for Whitley Bay,” he said.
“We have people who, for whatever reason, haven’t turned up today and that annoys me.
“We have a good board here, a great set of supporters, it’s a massive club and the players are well looked after, so some people need to take a look at themselves and give something back to Whitley Bay; because the club has given them something over they years.”
Whitley Bay: McCafferty, McFarlane, Cave, McGarr, Morse (MacDonald), Bird, Williamson, Stanger (Day), Kempster, Chow (Robinson), Watling. Subs not used: H Laws, Gladstone.
Whitley Bay are in Northern League action at Hillheads again on Saturday when Newton Aycliffe provide the opposition, the game getting under way at 3pm.