Whitley Bay earn first away win since October
Whitley Bay ended a run of three consecutive defeats with a hard earned victory in their derby against Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smith's Park.
Coming into the game just three points off the bottom of the table, a win was vital to keep them out of the unfamiliar territory of the relegation zone.
And to the relief of the travelling fans that is exactly what they achieved.
However, with both of the bottom two sides also winning, Bay still have a lot to do to ensure their first division safety.
Whitley gave a debut to striker Paul Kane, recently signed from South Shields, while captain Michael Laws returned to the line-up after missing the midweek defeat to Norton and Stockton.
Chris Youldon, a former Benfield player, was prominent in Bay’s early attacks, firing over from a Sam Norris cross and then drilling a shot just wide after dispossessing Benfield’s Kieran Wrightson.
Dan Taylor twice had good chances for the hosts but his first attempt was blocked then a few minutes later he blazed the ball high over the bar.
Andy Jennison got down well to block an effort from prolific striker Paul Brayson before Matthew Cornish wasted a good chance for the home side.
A promising move for Whitley Bay was ended when Alex Kempster was brought down a yard outside the penalty area.
But then in first half stoppage time Whitley broke the deadlock with a somewhat fortuitous goal. A shot from Michael Bell took a deflection off Benfield defender Tony Lancaster and fell kindly for Youldon to poke the ball past Grainger with the keeper wrong-footed.
Whitley started the second half strongly and after just 90 seconds a cross from the right by Norris was put behind for a corner by Scorgie at full stretch.
Five minutes later, Bell burst through on goal but his shot was blocked and the ball fell for Kempster whose attempted lob to the back post was intercepted.
Whitley doubled their lead ten minutes into the half with a well constructed goal. Kane received possession midway inside the Benfield half and quickly played the ball from the congested midfield into space on the right edge of the 18-yard box where Norris advanced before striking the ball on the half volley across Grainger and into the far corner of the net.
Whitley were well in control and had opportunities to extend their lead.
Man of the match Youldon shrugged off a challenge before playing the ball through to Kempster who was only denied by a fine save from Grainger.
Two minutes later Kempster drove a shot into the side-netting, but then with 20 minutes remaining, Benfield were thrown a lifeline when a cross from Michael Riley ended up in the Bay net after Richard Flynn miscued his attempted clearance.
It was backs to the wall for the visitors in the next few minutes and it looked as if Benfield might have drawn level when a ball played in from the right by Riley caused confusion in the defence, and in the scramble that followed Brayson almost poked it over the line with the home side appealing for a goal as Laws rescued Whitley with a vital clearance.
Substitute Jack Foalle shot wide in the closing stages and the youngster then set up Youldon but his effort was deflected off target.
The increasingly heavy pitch was took its toll on both sides and while Benfield huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, Whitley deservedly held on to claim all three points and their first away win since October.
Whitley Bay: Jennison, Gibson, McDonald, Anderson, Laws, Flynn, Norris, Bell, Kane (Foalle 63), Youldon, Kempster. Subs not used: Shanks, Lumsden, Hughes, McFarlane.