Whitley Bay open pre-season programme with defeat at Blyth

Whitley Bay began their pre-season programme on a warm and sunny afternoon at Blyth Spartans on Saturday.

And while the 2-1 result went against them, it was the match practice Bay were looking for as both sides gave opportunities to a number of trialists.

There was a familiar if youthful look to the Bay starting 11, the only newcomer being goalkeeper Jonathan Carmichael, while Paul Chow took the captain’s armband.

This was Spartans’ third game of the pre-season and in the early stages they looked much sharper and were two goals up inside eight minutes.

The first came after three minutes when Dan Maguire fired home following good build up play.

Then Joe Kendrick doubled their lead five minutes later when he was played clear on goal and lobbed the ball over Carmichael from 15 yards out on the left.

Teenagers Kyle Downey and Dillon Blake in midfield were being given a tough time and it took a while for Whitley to settle and create any openings in attack.

Blyth, comfortably controlling the midfield, held the edge in the first half without seriously threatening to extend their lead, although Carmichael saved well from Maguire on the half hour.

The second half brought its expected crop of substitutions with Whitley bringing on Chris Fawcett and three summer signings, Paul Antony, Mark Convery and Liam McBryde.

The stronger midfield began to provide Whitley with greater attacking , and after 53 minutes Chow got in a shot that went wide.

But 11 minutes later he pulled a goal back with a shot from the edge of the penalty area that left Blyth keeper James Howarth stranded.

By this stage, further changes had been made, including the introduction of former South Shields assistant manager Justin Perry, who posed a physical presence that threatened to unsettle the home defence.

Whitley brought on trialists Nathan Watt and David Baker in the later stages of the game.

Inevitably, the changes made by both sides disrupted the flow of the game, but Whitley enjoyed more of the game.

But the dangerous Maguire brought a fine save from Carmichael with 20 minutes remaining.

However, the home defence came under increased pressure and when Craig McFarlane burst through on the right he fired a shot not far wide from the edge of the area.

And shortly before the end, with Whitley pushing hard for an equaliser, James Fairley brought a good save from the Blyth keeper.

One game played in warm conditions, which sapped the strength of both sides, giving insufficient evidence on which to judge players, but it was encouraging to see Ian Watson put in a good performance after a season of injuries.

Ninety minutes of match practice was more important than the result, but Whitley and their fans, who fully matched the home support, will be hoping to reverse the scoreline when the sides meet again at Hillheads this Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Whitley Bay: Carmichael, Brooking, Novak, Anderson, McFarlane, Downey, Fairley, Blake, Davis, Chow, Watson. Second half substitutes: Fawcett, Antony, Convery, McBryde, Perry, C Smith, Watt, Baker.

On Tuesday, July 23, Whitley take on West Allotment Celtic at Hillheads, kick-off 7.30pm.