Whitley Bay 3-2 Dunston UTS
Whitley started the new year in fine style, producing an outstanding performance as they inflicted only the second defeat of the season on championship chasing Dunston.
The visitors came into the game with by far the best defensive record in the league, having conceded just 13 goals in 18 games, but Bay manager Mick Mulhern got his tactics spot on as he watched his side make a dream start, scoring twice in the first six minutes.
Attacking from the first whistle, they unsettled the visitors. In the fourth minute, Lewis Walton took the ball down the left flank before crossing into the box where Olly Martin’s delicate lob from 12 yards looped over keeper Karl Dryden and dipped just under the bar.
The early goal delighted the Bay fans but it got even better two minutes later. Continuing to put Dunston under pressure, Luke Taylor played the ball across the box to just beyond the far post, where Luke Salmon drilled it hard and low across the goalmouth. Almost impossible to defend, the ball struck Dunston captain Dan Halliday and flew into the net to give Whitley a two goal lead.
Before the visitors could muster an attack of their own, Whitley almost got a third but Martin’s powerful shot was just too high and Dryden was relieved to see it clear the bar.
In the 35th minute, Dunston pulled a goal back when Flynn blocked a shot following a free kick, but the ball fell for former Bay striker Liam Brooks who lashed it across Flynn and into the far corner of the net.
The goal gave Dunston a real boost and Michael Pearson fired over the bar.
Both sides played some good attacking football in the second half but Dunston began to gain the upper hand and drew level in the 62nd minute when Brooks played Fitzpatrick through on goal and the striker slotted past Flynn to set up a dramatic final half hour.
Ben Christensen headed wide from a Luke Salmon corner while at the other end, one shot rebounded off the post while another skimmed the bar.
The decisive moment of the game came in the 72nd minute as Whitley broke down the right. A McFarlane cross reached Olly Martin who turned past a defender and fired a low shot beyond Dryden into the far corner of the net to score what proved to be the winning goal.