Following a period when fortunes seemed to be improving, last week was a bad one for Whitley Bay as they suffered two heavy defeats.
On Saturday it was Shildon, one of the title favourites, who ran out deserved 5-0 winners at Hillheads, capitalising on some poor Bay defending in the second half.
The pre-match publicity talked of Whitley aiming to derail the visiting Shildon express, but it was the home side who suffered a points failure while the Railwaymen enhanced their championship credentials with a performance that their manager Garry Forrest described as their best of the season.
In goal for the visitors was former Bay keeper Kyle Hayes, who had one of his quieter games since his move from Spennymoor in September, being tested on just a handful of occasions.
The game got off to the worst possible start for Whitley as they lost possession straight from the kick-off and Shildon attacked down the left, and hesitant defending allowed the ball to be crossed into the goalmouth where Paul Connor poked it past Dan Gladstone with just 30 seconds on the clock.
The game gradually settled down and became a midfield battle with Whitley holding their own without really threatening an equaliser.
But after 36 minutes Craig McFarlane forced Hayes into action, with the keeper pushing a powerful 20-yard shot over the bar.
Paul Robinson’s well flighted corner almost brought an equaliser but the ball was cleared off the line by Darren Richardson just ahead of Paul Chow.
At the other end a vital interception by player-manager Leon Ryan took the ball off the toes of Mark Hudson when the Shildon captain was almost through on goal.
Perhaps the crucial moment of the game came in the fourth minute of an inexplicably long period of added time at the end of the half when slack defending allowed Daniel Moore, booked moments earlier for a foul on Robinson, to give the visitors the cushion of a second goal at the interval with a close range finish.
The second half began with Robbie Bird, the liveliest attacking player in the Bay side, cutting in from the left and producing a shot that Hayes pushed round the post.
Robinson only just failed to connect with a long ball from Michael Laws as Whitley tried to get back in the game.
But Shildon gave them little space or time on the ball and the majority of the action wa at the other end.
After heading wide Connor then brought an excellent diving save from Gladstone, but he was not to be denied and after 75 minutes added Shildon’s third when allowed space to pick his spot, driving the ball across Gladstone from out on the left and into the far corner of the net.
The goal ended any hopes of a Bay comeback and the rampant Railwaymen added two more in the final ten minutes.
Whitley’s dismal day was summed up when a corner from Robinson took a deflection and the ball was about to cross the line when it rebounded off Bird, and somehow stayed out and was eventually scrambled away for a corner.
This incident had no effect on the outcome as the visitors quickly added a fourth, Connor completing his hat-trick by slotting home the rebound after a shot hit the post.
With time running out a corner from Brad Brooking was headed behind by Harwood before play switched to the other end where Gladstone denied Chris Emms.
For the second time in seven days Whitley then conceded a fifth with the last kick of the match, a good move ending with Ben Wood’s shot creeping just inside the far post.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Brooking (Redford 86), McDonald (Watling 41), Ellison (Godsmark 72), Ryan, Reid, Bird, Laws, McFarlane, Chow, Robinson. Subs not used: Anderson, Kempster.