Whitley Bay 5 Dunston UTS 1
Playing their third game of the week last night, March 3, Whitley Bay really turned on the style to reach the quarter-finals of the Camerons Brewery Brooks Mileson League Cup, recording their biggest-ever win over Dunston at Hillheads.
It was a quite outstanding performance and unexpected result against the team that has knocked them out of the FA Vase in each of the last three seasons, and there could have been few complaints from the visitors if the margin of victory had been even greater.
With three of his recent signings cup-tied, manager Ian Chandler was forced into making changes from the side that had lost narrowly to Marske just 48 hours earlier, with Josh Day, Craig McFarlane and Adam Shanks back in the starting 11.
After a quiet opening, the game burst into life with two goals in rapid succession.
The first came when Adam Shanks crossed from the right, and Ash Davis burst clear to rifle a powerful shot past Dunston skipper Liam Connell, giving Whitley a 13th-minute lead.
The second, three minutes later, came in bizarre circumstances. The Dunston defence lost concentration when Adam Shanks went to ground after taking a knock, and Davis took full advantage of their hesitancy, rounding Connell before tapping the ball into the empty net. Even the fans were initially confused, expecting play to be brought back, but the goal stood, putting Whitley were in command of the game.
Rather than trying to press home their advantage, Whitley sat back and allowed Dunston time on the ball, with much of the play taking place in the Whitley half.
Steve Gibson made a crucial block after 36 minutes as the visitors grew in confidence, and five minutes later, a shot from Alex Francis flew inches over the bar.
Whitley failed to take heed of the warnings and, just as they had done on Tuesday, they conceded a goal right on half-time.
It came when former Bay reserves striker Malky Morien crossed from the left and Adam Wilkinson stabbed the ball home from six yards out.
It looked as if Whitley could be up against it in the second half, but the half-time team talk had clearly done its job as there was renewed purpose and energy among Bay’s players.
Four minutes after the restart, Davis turned supplier when his well-timed through ball saw Shanks nip in just ahead of the advancing Connell to restore Whitley’s two-goal lead.
It was a pivotal moment as it knocked the confidence out of the Dunston side and put Whitley back in control.
Apart from a Morien header which struck the bar, Dunston rarely threatened to get back in the game, and slack defending led to a fourth Whitley goal.
Chris Youldon took the ball down the right almost to the by-line before cutting in past static defenders, and when he drove the ball low into the goalmouth, it took a deflection and ended up in the net.
Who got the final touch was open to question, but Youldon was certainly the architect of the goal, and it was credited to him.
Some 14 minutes from time, the rout was completed when Shanks headed home from Chris McDonald’s right-wing corner.
Further chances came Whitley’s way in the closing stages, Alex Kempster seeing a shot saved by Connell, and an attempt from Callum Anderson flew narrowly past the post.
With a heavy schedule of fixtures continuing through the next two months, Whitley took the opportunity to rest some key players in the closing stages and give game time to three of the club’s promising youngsters.
Scott Prosser, Dillon Blake and Dan Chambers all did well and with a minimum of 20 games still to play, they look set to feature in the coming weeks.
The Bay management were understandably delighted with the performance, especially the way the players responded in the second half, with many of them having played three times in five days.
The reward for their third-round victory is a quarter-final tie away to second division strugglers Esh Winning next Wednesday, March 9.
That means that Tuesday’s scheduled league game at Newton Aycliffe has been postponed until the first week in May.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, McFarlane(Blake 70mins), McDonald, Anderson, Laws, Gibson(Chambers 76mins), Day, Youldon, Shanks, Davis(Prosser 63mins) Kempster. Substitutes not used: Jennison, Atkinson.
Referee: Barry Gordon.