Whitley Bay could count themselves unfortunate not to have taken at least a share of the spoils from an entertaining encounter with Northern League champions Marske United at Hillheads on Tuesday evening.
Striker Ash Davis came straight into the side after rejoining the club from Blyth Spartans and made an immediate impact as he put the home side in front on 26 minutes.
Latching onto a long ball from Callum Anderson, the striker produced a clinical finish from eight yards.
The goal was no more than Whitley deserved after posing the greater threat in the opening stages.
But Marske equalised out of the blue ten minutes later when Liam O’Sullivan crossed from the left and Jamie Owens struck a superb volley past Dan Gladstone from close range.
It was their first attempt on goal and three minutes later they nearly took the lead but were denied by a goal line clearance from Chris McDonald.
Whitley finished the half strongly, and after Davis had a shot pushed wide by keeper Robert Dean, Jake Fowler had an effort blocked.
Just 20 seconds into the second half, Dean was forced into another crucial save, pushing away a goalbound shot from Alex Kempster.
Davis then went close to restoring Bay’s lead with a great dipping shot, but Marske keeper Dean was equal to it, palming the ball just over the bar.
Whitley continued to press forward but their finishing let them down, and after Dean raced off his line to clear a long ball inches ahead of Kempster, they were made to pay the price.
The visitors broke and Preston’s cross was met by Mulligan whose header bounced off the ground and crashed off the underside of the bar and into the net.
A late effort from Aiden Haley was well saved and the champions held on, the win taking them up to third in the table.
The sides meet again on Saturday in North Yorkshire when Whitley will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes.
Summing up his team’s performance, Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler said he was disappointed with the result.
“I thought we were the better team and had enough chances in the second half to win, but every shot seemed to go straight at their keeper,” he said.
Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Munro, McDonald, Anderson, Laws, Gibson, Haley, Fowler, Youldon (Day 63), Davis, Kempster. Subs not used: Atkinson, Jennison, Blake, Prosser.