A SEVENTH minute goal from Chris Fawcett was enough to give Whitley Bay victory at Tow Law and move them back up to third place in the table.
The result was a morale booster after two disappointing defeats in the previous seven days, most notably the FA Vase exit.
Whitley’s starting line-up saw Lee Kerr restored to an attacking role while Paul Chow, Robbie Dale and Damon Robson all dropped to the bench.
Cold and windy conditions at the Northern League’s highest ground hampered both sides at what is always a tricky venue for visiting teams.
But with the wind at their backs Whitley enjoyed the majority of possession in the early stages.
With less than four minutes on the clock Callum Anderson curled the ball from 20 yards out on the left towards the back post which almost deceived keeper Stephen Robinson, as it drifted narrowly wide.
Michael McMullen and Kerr both threatened the home goal but it was a defensive mistake that led to the breakthrough.
With Bay attacking down the right, Michael Robson attempted a back pass but the ball was weakly struck and Fawcett reacted quickly and seized his chance, slotting the ball between keeper and post from a tight angle for a deserved lead.
The home side, struggling second from bottom in the table, fought back and Kyle Hayes had to block a shot from Scott Arnott before a follow up header was off target.
Paul Robinson then tried his luck with a shot from 30 yards that almost caught out his namesake but was just wide of the far post.
Whitley were not able to press home their advantage and their only other attempt of note during the first half came just before the interval when Chris Reid’s header from a corner was saved.
Tow Law came out looking livelier after the break, and Hayes soon had to punch a swirling ball over the bar.
Not surprisingly the majority of play was once again at the clubhouse end of the pitch with the wind not relenting.
Chow was brought on for the last 17 minutes but was unable to make a significant impact.
McMullen eventually broke clear on the right but shot wide while the best chance of the half came seven minutes from time when Fawcett was played clear from the half way line.
He raced through on goal but when lobbing the keeper might have been the best option he hesitated and his final shot was wide of the target.
At the other end a goal line clearance and a header inches over the bar from Mathew Scott were the highlights as Whitley held on to claim the points.
Tow Law, once one of the leading sides in the league and with a proud history, are now eight points adrift of fourth bottom Penrith and seemingly destined for relegation.
Probably their only consolation after this game would be the increased receipts from the loyal band of Bay fans who made up at least three quarters of the crowd.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Williams, Reid (Chow 73 mins), McFarlane, Timmons, Kerr (Smith 66 mins), Ormston, Anderson (Robson 44 mins), Fawcett, McMullen, Robinson. Subs not used: Dale, Rowe.