WHITLEY Bay FC recorded their biggest away win in 18 months on Saturday with a 7-2 victory at Stokesley.
It matched the score by which they defeated Bishop Auckland in April 2010, but their victory over Stokesley was certainly not a classic performance.
Indeed, for a while in the second half, it looked as if the home side, struggling at the foot of the table, might upset the form book as they fought back from 3-0 down, scoring two goals in ten minutes.
But the home side tired in the closing stages and three goals in the last six minutes gave Bay the biggest away win in the Northern League so far this season.
The North Yorkshire club have had to rebuild their entire team during the summer and their inexperienced squad of local players have suffered some heavy defeats, but they gave a spirited display despite the odds being stacked against them.
Whitley started with Lee Kerr and Paul Chow up front while Callum Anderson, unavailable for the midweek game at West Auckland, returned to the defence.
The opening goal came when Chow, in a central position inside the penalty area, played the ball out to Paul Robinson on the left and he drilled a shot past keeper Justin Hutchinson.
Whitley’s second goal came after 32 minutes when Robinson was played clear and he advanced before comfortably beating the keeper.
Whitley were in control and Robbie Dale played Craig McFarlane through but his shot was deflected wide.
Chris Reid had to be replaced after suffering a groin injury seven minutes before the interval, with David Pounder coming off the bench.
A rare shot on the Bay goal by Stokesley’s Greg Upton drifted wide of the target as what had been rather a scrappy first half drew to a close.
After the break, Whitley quickly extended their lead when Kerr’s cross was fired home by Robinson, completing a rare hat-trick for the Bay midfielder.
Those visiting fans who may have thought that the floodgates were about to open were to be disappointed as Stokesley hit back immediately.
A lack of concentration by Whitley after scoring their third allowed home captain Nathan Porritt time and space and his speculative shot from 20 yards bounced over Kyle Hayes as the Bay keeper dived for the ball too soon.
Then on the hour, Stokesley’s Daniel Jones ran at the Bay defence and with players backing off cut in from the left and played the ball short to substitute Michael Makin who slotted home from close range.
Suddenly the game looked wide open with Whitley shaken and the home side growing in confidence.
However, a fourth Bay goal after 70 minutes put then back on track.
It came when substitute Phill Bell sent over a perfect cross for Chow to head home.
Six minutes from time, Pounder’s well timed run beat the Stokesley offside trap and his cross gave Chow the simplest of tap in goals.
Three minutes later, Mackin brought a good save from Hayes and when play swung to the other end, Robinson’s cross from the right provided Chow with another close range finish to complete his hat trick.
Whitley added a seventh goal deep into stoppage time when excellent build up play by Robinson bewildered the home defence and the ball ran free Lee Paul Scroggins lashed it home from ten yards out.
A rousing finish sent the travelling fans home happy and put Whitley up to third in the table.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Anderson, McFarlane (Williams 58 mins), Timmons, Reid (Pounder 38 mins), Scroggins, Dale (Bell 58 mins), Robson, Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Subs not used: Ormston, Rowe.