Newton Aycliffe 2-2 Whitley Bay
A goal by Andrei Ardelean deep into stoppage time earned Whitley a point in Mick Mulhern’s first game as manager.
Taking over the reins from Andy Gowens during the week, the former assistant boss was able to make it a relatively seamless transition and the players responded with a battling display against a hard working and physical Newton Aycliffe side.
Whitley suffered an early blow when Callum Anderson was the victim of a bad tackle and was forced out of the game with an ankle injury, Ibby Hassan replacing him inside the first ten minutes.
The pitch had coped well with the heavy rain of recent days but on a damp and misty afternoon it was inevitably slippery and at times players struggled with their foothold.
Chances were at a premium during the first half hour but in the 33rd minute Whitley broke the deadlock when Ardelean cut the ball back from out on the right into the path of Kieran Brannen, whose well struck first time shot flew past keeper James Winter.
Aycliffe’s recent signing Jermaine Metz was proving a threat down the right flank and it was he who set up the home side’s equaliser five minutes before half time, when he took advantage of slack defending to burst clear before crossing into the goalmouth where Vinny Gash slid the ball past Tom Flynn.
The goal gave the hosts a real lift and they should have gone ahead on the stroke of half time but Flynn made a fine block to deny Metz before Gash blazed the ball high over the bar.
Aycliffe gradually got on top after the break and in the 64th minute Ben Wood cut in from the right and fired the home side into a deserved lead.
Aycliffe pressed for a decisive third goal but Whitley were defending with determination and responded with Taggart getting a shot on target with 11 minutes remaining.
Having been very lenient up to this stage, the referee finally took action in the final ten minutes, brandishing a series of yellow cards. Aycliffe midfielder Marc Costello incurred Mr Pill’s wrath with a second caution and was consequently sent off.
Whitley’s persistence paid off when Lewis Suddick and Ben Christensen combined to play the ball back into the box where Ardelean slammed it home for the equaliser.