Whitley Bay got their Northern League season off to a winning start with a hard fought victory over newly promoted Stockton Town.
Following their excellent midweek FA Cup replay win, it was no surprise that it was an unchanged starting 11 that took to the field with conditions having improved significantly after a torrential downpour at lunchtime.
The first opportunity was created by Kyle Patton after six minutes when he turned inside the 18-yard box and his low shot took a deflection and flew past the upright.
Defences were on top in the opening stages but with 14 minutes played, Scott Jasper evaded several challenges as he burst through from midfield and chipped the ball only narrowly wide of the post.
Midway through the half Hayes brought a save from Bay keeper Tom Flynn before Tom Potter’s low cross was poked just wide by the on-rushing Jasper.
A well timed tackle by Ross Wilkinson denied Coleman a clear shot on goal for the visitors before the Bay defender got a vital touch to clear the danger when a cross came in from the left.
Whitley were forced into a defensive reorganisation five minutes before the interval when Callum Anderson was unable to continue after picking up an injury, Glenn Reay coming on for his first appearance in Bay colours.
The first half had lacked the quality of the midweek game against Seaham, with neither side able to break the deadlock.
However, that changed nine minutes after the interval when Jack Byerley’s low cross beyond the Stockton defence into the goalmouth was slotted home from close range by Jasper.
Boosted by the goal, Whitley went close two minutes later when Kyle Patton was not far off target from Potter’s cross.
Shortly after this near miss, Alex Kempster’s ball into the danger zone caused problems for the Stockton defence, who were relieved to see Potter’s shot clear the bar.
Whitley were now posing the greater threat but Stockton were still in the game and with 15 minutes left, a header flew just wide of Flynn’s goal, although the keeper appeared to have the ball covered.
Four minutes later an effort from Jamie Owens flashed across the Bay goal and out of play.
That was as near as the visitors got to claiming an equaliser, and with nine minutes remaining, Thibault Charmey’s perfect through ball was met by Potter who slotted it home just ahead of the on-rushing Jordan.
With a two-goal advantage, Whitley were firmly in control and comfortably saw out the game and might even have extended their lead further, Kempster narrowly failing to add a third goal in stoppage time.
This was certainly not a classic but Whitley ground out a deserved victory over a well organised Stockton side. Wilkinson had an excellent game at the heart of the Bay defence and was named man of the match.
Whitley Bay: Flynn, Byerley, Nearney, C Patton, Wilkinson, Anderson (Reay 40), Potter (Glen-Ravenhill 82), Charmey, Jasper, Kempster, K Patton (Cornish 70). Subs not used: Moore, Harley.
On Saturday Whitley are back on the FA Cup trail when they travel to Penrith in the preliminary round.
Then on Tuesday evening, they have a league fixture at home to Ryhope CW, but that game would be postponed if a cup replay is required that evening.