Whitley Bay lost at Sunderland RCA on Saturday in a game they should have won comfortably but were made to pay for missed chances.
They dominated the contest for long periods, forcing the home side to defend in depth.
But it was a day when they did not enjoy the rub of the green, twice denied by the frame of the goal and on several occasions seeing shots fly inches off target.
In contrast, Sunderland RCA made their chances count, scoring twice from the only three real attempts they had on goal all game.
On a muddy Meadow Park pitch, Whitley had the benefit of the slope in the first half while the Ryhope club’s defence had to contend with a dazzling low sun in the opening 20 minutes.
The pattern of the game was quickly established with Whitley on the attack, pinning RCA in their own half, and when Craig McFarlane’s cross into the box was headed clear, it fell for Paul Chow whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Another effort by Chow was cleared off the line by Jury before Chris Reid sent a long range effort wide of goal.
Jarrett Rivers then crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Alex Kempster’s shot was played behind for another corner.
Minutes later, another Bay attack saw James Novak’s cross reach Kempster whose shot was held above his head by Carmichael.
Whitley were in control and it looked only a matter of time before they would take the lead, but again they were denied when Novak made another good run down the left before crossing to Chow who quickly turned and fired a low shot agonisingly just past the post.
The pressure was mounting and when Novak tried his luck from fully 20 yards, the ball crashed off the bar with Carmichael beaten.
Three minutes later an excellent through ball put Chow clear on the edge of the penalty area and as he closed in on goal it seemed certain that he would score but on a day when Whitley’s luck was out, his shot struck the base of the post and rebounded away from goal.
Richard Harley, who had been a virtual spectator for much of the half, was finally called into action to make an easy save from Nathan Wilson.
The half ended with the scores level when on another day Whitley could easily have had a three-goal lead.
The second half began in a similar vein, with Whitley well on top .
After only five minutes, Rivers was played clear on goal by an inch perfect pass from Chow but he fired straight at Carmichael and the former Bay keeper blocked the shot.
A downward header from Reid gave Chow another chance but his close range effort was blocked thanks to determined defending by the RCA rearguard.
Having withstood an almost constant barrage from a Bay side that had dominated possession for the first hour of the game, RCA snatched the lead against the run of play with what was their first real attempt on goal.
Kyle Morris cut in from the left and went past two challenges before firing a low shot from 20 yards that appeared to leave Jon Harley unsighted and the ball flew just inside the near post beyond the young keeper’s grasp.
Back came Whitley and substitute Chris Moore almost levelled six minutes later when Chow’s ball out to the right wing gave him the chance to run clear and fire a low shot past Carmichael but also inches past the far post.
Youngsters Kempster and Rivers, who had both battled away well, were replaced by Phil Airey and Chris Fawcett as Whitley looked to get back into the game, but neither substitute made a significant impact.
After Whitley saw yet another attempt on goal cleared off the line by Jury, they almost conceded a second ten minutes from time when play quickly switched to the bottom end where Barton’s shot was blocked by Leon Ryan but it took a goal line clearance from Tomi Ameobi to keep the ball out.
Whitley were frustrated by some questionable refereeing decisions, which on more than one occasion denied them when in attacking situations.
And they were the victims of uncertainty among the officials six minutes from time when the referee waved play on after a challenge on Hughes by Ameobi just outside the Whitley box, but then after consulting his assistant he changed his decision, awarding the home side a free kick and cautioning Ameobi.
Wilson’s well struck free kick brought an excellent diving save from Harley but Hughes pounced on the loose ball to volley home and give RCA a two-goal lead.
To their credit, Whitley kept going and they gained at least some reward for their efforts in the last of the 90 minutes when they forced a corner and after Chow’s effort had been blocked, the ball fell to Reid who stabbed it home from six yards.
This set up a frenetic three minutes of added time, as Whitley poured forward in search of an equaliser but RCA hung on to record a vital win in their fight to move clear of the relegation zone while Whitley were left to reflect on how they failed to take anything from a game that they had totally dominated.
Whitley Bay: Harley, McFarlane, Novak, Reid, Ryan, Anderson, McMullen (Moore 55 mins), Ameobi, Rivers (Fawcett 80), Chow, Kempster (Airey 70). Subs not used: Buzzeo, Smith.