A tremendous battling display by ten-man Whitley Bay earned them a memorable victory at Dunston and extended their unbeaten run to six games.
This game was a story of three goalkeepers. Dunston’s Jack Norton produced a man of the match display that kept his side in the game, while Bay had Tom Flynn sent off shortly before half-time for a foul outside the box, and without another recognised keeper in their side, midfielder Callum Patton took over in goal and, assisted by a well disciplined defence, kept the home side at bay.
Whitley started well and in the sixth minute they produced a fine flowing move, Chris McDonald playing the ball through to Peter Glen-Ravenhill who linked up with Alex Kempster before Andy Robertson fired a shot wide of the target from ten yards.
In Dunston’s first threat on goal, Steven Richardson broke away down the left but Nicky Allen averted the danger.
Midway through the half, Glen-Ravenhill, whose confidence looked to have been boosted following impressive displays in recent games for the reserves, broke away down the left and set up Robertson whose powerful shot was well saved by Norton, with the ball rebounding away for a corner.
With 26 minutes played, a first time effort by Dunston’s Michael Pearson flew over the bar, but 60 seconds later Norton produced his best save of the game, somehow getting a hand to a fierce shot from McDonald that seemed destined for the top corner.
In the 33rd minute, Thibault Charmey broke through the Dunston defence and Norton raced off his line to block the shot, but Alex Kempster latched onto the loose ball and drove it into an empty net to give Whitley a well deserved lead.
Just over a minute later, Callum Patton’s powerfully struck shot from 20 yards was only kept out by another stunning save from Norton.
The course of the game changed four minutes before the interval when the Bay defence failed to cut out a long ball, leaving Richardson with a clear run on goal. Flynn raced out in an attempt to win the ball but clipped the Dunston striker outside the box and left referee John Mulligan with little option but to show a red card.
With no recognised keeper on the bench, Callum Patton took the goalkeeper’s jersey and after comfortably defended the ensuing free kick.
Whitley safely saw out the remainder of the half, leaving them time to regroup ahead of a testing second 45 minutes.
The reshuffle resulted in Aiden Haley replacing Tom Potter in midfield as Whitley awaited the anticipated onslaught from Dunston.
Ten minutes had elapsed before Patton was tested and after the stand-in keeper had parried an attempt on goal, Ross Wilkinson made an important goal line clearance.
Whitley were proving dangerous on the break and after Glen-Ravenhill had won the ball near the halfway line, he combined with Kempster to set up a chance for Robertson whose effort was blocked by Norton.
Midway through the half Liam Thear went close for Dunston with a shot that clipped the top of the bar, but then played switched to the other end where Kempster went close but was denied by yet another top class save from Norton.
The ten men of Whitley were holding their own thanks to well disciplined defending which gradually drained the confidence out of the home side who struggled to put any sort of pressure on Patton, who comfortably saved a long range shot with 15 minutes remaining.
With the hosts pushing forward they left gaps at the back, and with seven minutes to go, Glen-Ravenhill broke through for Whitley but his shot was deflected wide.
The hosts then forced three corners in quick succession as they desperately searched for a late equaliser, but the Bay rearguard held firm with Wilkinson and McDonald particularly impressive.
Whitley were always a threat on the break and substitute Liam Brooks twice went close to putting the game beyond Dunston’s reach, his second attempt deep into five minutes of stoppage time going beyond the far post when fellow sub Kyle Patton was better placed to capitalise.
There could be no denying that this was a thoroughly deserved win with every member of the side contributing to the victory, which gave Whitley only their second ever league double over Dunston and consolidated eighth place in the Northern League table.
Whitley Bay begin a series of three home games in the space of a week on Saturday when they face seventh placed Consett at Hillheads, then on Tuesday they welcome in-form Jarrow Roofing for a 7.30pm kick-off.
Whitley Bay: Flynn, Gilbey, McDonald, Charmey, Wilkinson, Allen, Potter (Haley 46), C Patton, Robertson (Brooks 74), Kempster, Glen-Ravenhill(K Patton 86). Subs not used: Byerley, Moore.