Whitley Bay came from behind to win their FA Vase Replay against Northwich Manchester Villa 3-1 on Tuesday evening and earn a second round tie at home to Dunston UTS.
It was a game that Whitley were expected to win but although they ended up comfortable victors, their lower ranked opponents did not make it easy and it was only in the latter stages that Whitley’s superiority shone through.
They made two changes from the side that was held to a 1-1 draw in Manchester, with Robbie Williamson and Kris Hughes both in the starting XI, and they both made a real impact on the game, capping impressive performances with a goal apiece.
Whitley were presented with the chance to take an early lead when Northwich defender Sven Gibson handled the ball inside the box after just nine minutes but Adam Shanks hit the post with his penalty kick.
It was his sixth spot kick of the season and the first one he had failed to convert.
Seven minutes later, Chris McDonald’s teasing cross was put behind by Dylan Norris who got his foot to the ball just ahead of Shanks. From the corner that followed, Robbie Williamson’s fierce shot from 10 yards was brilliantly saved by keeper Daniel Whiting at the expense of another flag kick.
Despite determined defending by the visitors, Whitley were well on top and two minutes later Mark Bertram’s 20-yard chip shot was safely held by Whiting.
A quick break to the other end brought Dan Gladstone into the action, racing out to clear the ball inches ahead of the onrushing Lassana.
Kris Hughes saw a first time effort flash past the post while a goalbound shot from Callum Anderson took a deflection off Alex Kempster and flew wide of the target.
In only their second attack of the game, Northwich MV took a shock 32nd minute lead when a misplaced pass from Williamson deep inside the visitors half was seized on and played into the path of Dylan Norris, who raced away down the left before beating Gladstone with a perfectly placed shot across the keeper from all of 20 yards.
Williamson, who celebrated his 18th birthday two weeks ago, made amends for his error seven minutes later with a superb shot from 20 yards that rocketed into the top corner of the net to level the score.
It was a crucial goal and lifted his team-mates as well as the fans in the closing stages of the half.
Three minutes before the break, Shanks tried to place a shot into the corner of the goal but it lacked power and whiting saved comfortably.
As in the game on Saturday, Whitley had been guilty of missing chances during the first half, but after the interval, they improved and exerted more pressure on the Northwich defence.
Another 20 yarder from Williamson was fingertipped over the bar by Whiting eight minutes after the restart and the youngster then headed over from Bertram’s corner.
Whitley’s persistence paid off two minutes later when Shanks beat Whiting to Williamson’s through ball and poked it into the net from ten yards to put Whitley in front.
A mistake by Whiting nearly proved costly when Hughes crossed to Shanks inside the six yard box but his shot went just the wrong side of the post.
The visitors were offering little attacking threat but with 71 minutes played, it took a goal line clearance to deny them an equaliser following a free kick 25 yards from goal on the Whitley right.
Eleven minutes from time a third goal gave Whitley much needed breathing space and it came from a poor clearance from Whiting who played the ball straight to Kris Hughes on the edge of the 18 yard box.
The midfielder calmly controlled the ball before delivering a measured lob back over Whiting into the roof of the net.
With a two-goal cushion, Whitley were finally in control of the game and a tiring Northwich side offered little threat in the closing stages.
It was far from a vintage Bay performance but they had done enough to deserve their victory and a place in the next round on Nopvember 21.
WHITLEY BAY: Gladstone, Gibson, McDonald, Anderson, Laws, Bramley (Reid 62mins), Williamson, Bertram, Shanks, Hughes, Kempster(Norris 77mins). Substitutes not used: Hudson, Bell, Young
Referee: Helen Conley