FOLLOWING a poor first half display in Tuesday night’s Ebac Northern League first division game against Sunderland RCA, Whitley Bay dominated after the interval but could not make their superiority count and had to settle for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw.
There was only one change in the Bay starting 11 from the side that beat Bedlington Terriers at the weekend, Callum Anderson making his first appearance of the season following suspension, with Brian Smith dropping to the bench.
Failing to match their performance against Bedlington, Whitley struggled to find any rhythm in the opening period, with the visitors looking lively and having the majority of possession.
It was not until the first quarter hour had passed that Whitley really threatened, and that move came to nothing when Paul Robinson’s ball from the right played behind the RCA defence whistled across the face of goal with Chris Fawcett, in what appeared to be an offside position, failing to get a touch.
But the visitors were looking the better side and they took the lead after 22 minutes, albeit in somewhat fortuitous circumstances.
Kyle Hayes got his fingertips to a ball played in from the left across the goalmouth by defender David Gordon and it went into the net off Craig McFarlane for an own goal.
Whitley were finding it difficult to penetrate a well organised RCA defence with Paul Chow being closely marked throughout.
The only attack of note came when Fawcett and Robinson combined and a deflected header brought Whitley a corner.
A lengthy delay followed when RCA defender Steven Jones suffered a nasty ankle injury and after treatment had to be helped from the pitch.
Deep into added time, Whitley drew level when Lee Kerr played a long ball from midfield towards the right corner of the RCA penalty area where it was flicked on by Jack Palmer and Fawcett fired a great shot across goal and into the far corner.
It was by far Whitley’s brightest moment of the half and it saw them go in level at the break.
Perhaps they could count themselves lucky not to be behind but despite the visitors’ dominance, RCA had rarely posed a threat to the Bay goal.
The second half saw an immediate turnaround as Whitley looked a different side, attacking with much more purpose and pushing the Wearsiders on to the back foot.
Denver Morris, back from holiday, came off the bench in place of Palmer to offer a pacey outlet on the left as Whitley threw more men forward.
The luck was against Chow when he had a shot blocked and was then denied a penalty after keeper Craig Shields spilled a shot and pulled Chow down as he tried to gather the ball.
With an offside flag raised, the decision went against Whitley, as did several more with frustration growing among players and fans alike.
Two more efforts from Chow were cleared and a free kick from Chris Reid was pushed over the bar.
Another strong penalty claim was turned down when Fawcett appeared to be brought down on the left side of the 18-yard box.
It was one of those evenings when it seemed that whatever they tried, Whitley’s luck was out and they could not get the winner.
The visitors deserve credit for determined defending but the last few minutes saw them hanging on for a point, which they duly gained.
Whitley may see this as two points dropped, but had they shown the same attacking spirit in the first half, there might well have been a different outcome.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, McFarlane, Fawcett, Anderson, Reid, Scroggins, Palmer (Morris 46 mins), Fairley, Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Subs not used: Donnelly, Walker, C Smith, B Smith.