Ten-man Whitley Bay hang on to do double over Newcastle Benfield
Two second-half goals from Alex Kempster gave Whitley a hard-earned victory in their north-of-Tyne derby against Newcastle Benfield on a damp Tuesday evening at Hillheads.
It was the proverbial game of two halves, with Benfield dominating proceedings in the first 45 minutes, but, crucially, they failed to capitalise, squandering a series of chances.
Little was seen of Whitley as an attacking force, and they suffered a blow on the half-hour when teenage midfielder Aiden Haley was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle.
Benfield player-manager Paul Brayson wasted an excellent chance to give his side the lead, side-footing wide of goal from close range, and though his team forced a series of corners, they were denied by solid Bay defending.
Richard Slaughter went close shortly before half-time, but his 20-yard shot curled narrowly wide.
Four minutes before the interval, Whitley created their only real chance of the half when Chris Youldon’s perfect through ball almost put Ash Davis clear on goal, but he was thwarted by keeper Andrew Grainger racing off his line to win the ball.
The second half started with the visitors still posing the greater threat, and it took a tremendous double save from Bay keeper Tom Flynn to prevent Brayson breaking the deadlock.
Two minutes later, Lewis Scorgie saw a shot from wide on the left clip the bar.
However, Whitley battled their way into the game, with strikers Adam Shanks and Ash Davis working tirelessly, and it was those two who combined to set up the opening goal on the hour mark.
Shanks, tracking back into midfield, won possession through sheer determination and played the ball down the right to Davis, who crossed it into the six-yard box, where Alex Kempster, diving to reach the ball, sent a glancing header beyond Grainger into the corner of the net.
That goal lifted Whitley, and with the crowd getting behind them, there was renewed energy throughout the team as they chased down every ball, winning crucial tackles across the park.
Flynn was looking confident in goal and made another important save from Brayson as Benfield tried to get back into the game that they had controlled for long periods.
Despite playing with ten men for an hour of the game, it was Whitley who looked the stronger in the closing stages, and deep into stoppage time, they sealed their victory with a second goal.
Again, Shanks was involved in the build-up, his good play and cross setting up Kempster to fire home past Grainger with virtually the last kick off the game.
The win, their first league double of the season, moved Whitley above Durham City and out of the bottom three, with at least five games in hand on all of the sides below them.
Manager Ian Chandler was delighted by the second-half performance of his team, giving special praise to goal-scorer Alex Kempster and strikers Adam Shanks and Ash Davis.
Whitley Bay: Flynn, Munro (Bramley 73), Youldon (Prosser 57), Anderson, McFarlane, Gibson, Haley, Fowler, Shanks, Davis (Day 88), Kempster. Substitutes not used: Gladstone, Ivanov.