Whitley Bay fans have become used to dramatic late goals this season, and once again they were treated to a last gasp winner against Dunston UTS on Saturday.
But this time it came from an unlikely source as Callum Anderson headed home only his third goal in 269 appearances.
The game got off to the perfect start for Bay when they went ahead in the third minute, Kyle Patton broke away down the left and his ball across goal was played back into the path of Andy Robertson who cleverly slotted home from a tight angle past keeper Jack Norton.
Dunston gradually came into the game and after Warren Byrne drove the ball over the bar in the tenth minute, a long range effort from Ryan Drane midway through the half flew well wide.
Whitley had an excellent opportunity to double their lead seven minutes before the interval when Robertson set Alex Kempster clear, but Norton did well to block the shot with his foot at the expense of a corner.
Whitley retained their one goal advantage up to half-time, but after the break it took Dunston just five minutes to level. A foul on visiting captain Dale Burrell by Ross Wilkinson resulted in a penalty and Byrne slotted home the spot kick.
The goal seemed to spark Whitley back into life and after a shot from Thibault Charmey was blocked, Callum Patton went down in the box but the penalty appeals were waved away.
Keeping up the pressure, Charmey played the ball back across goal from the left and Kyle Patton’s looping header hit the top of the bar.
With 20 minutes remaining, Dunston were awarded a second penalty, this time for an infringement by Anderson on Liam Thear. Once again Byrne stepped up to take the spot kick, but remembering where the first penalty had been placed, Tom Flynn dived the right way and made a great double save to keep the ball out.
This proved to be the crucial moment of the game as Dunston’s heads dropped and Whitley brought on Tom Potter and Liam Brooks to add pace and energy in the closing stages.
The move almost brought immediate reward when an excellent through ball played Brooks clear and from 22 yards his shot beat Norton but agonisingly crashed off the outside of the post.
A few minutes later, with Whitley now well on top, Kyle Patton appeared to be brought down in the box but referee Chris Keightley earned the wrath of Bay fans as he once again waved away their penalty appeals.
It was beginning to look as if Dunston would hold out despite Bay’s pressure, and two minutes from time, in a rare break downfield, they might have snatched victory but a first time effort from Drane flashed wide of goal.
Pushing more men forward, Whitley earned a corner in the third minute of stoppage time and Potter played the ball into the goalmouth where Anderson’s glancing header flew into the corner of the net to the delight of his teammates and the home fans.
With only seconds remaining, there was barely time for the game to restart before the final whistle signalled celebrations as Whitley deservedly claimed the three points and consolidated eighth position in the table.
Not surprisingly, Anderson was named h2o Bathrooms man of the match.
On Saturday Whitley Bay travel to Newton Aycliffe, kick-off 3pm.
Whitley Bay: Flynn, Gilbey, McDonald, Allen (Potter 71), Anderson, Wilkinson, K Patton (Glen-Ravenhill 84), C Patton, Robertson (Brooks 76), Charmey, Kempster. Subs not used: Long.