Whitley Bay cruised into the semi-finals of the Brooks Mileson League Cup with an overwhelming victory over second division strugglers Esh Winning.
They scored eight goals but it could quite easily have been double figures, with shots hitting the frame of the goal and others cleared off the line as the visitors controlled the game almost from start to finish.
With several players cup tied and others injured, Ian Chandler handed a debut to Bulgarian midfielder Nicolay Ivanov while Scott Prosser made his first start of the season.
Playing up the slope at their West Terrace ground, Esh almost made the perfect start when with just 90 seconds on the clock, Dan Maddison tried to lob the ball over Dan Gladstone. The Bay keeper stretched high to parry the shot but could not hold the ball and had to rush back to catch it before it crossed the line.
That was about as good as it got for the hosts with play quickly switching to the other end.
Adam Shanks volleyed straight at the keeper when played in by Ash Davis, then a minute later Ivanov had an effort saved by Mark Bell.
But the Esh keeper was helpless less than 60 seconds later when Stuart Bramley, unmarked ten yards from goal, headed home from Alex Kempster’s free kick.
It was the centre back’s first goal for the club and gave Whitley a sixth minute lead.
Steve Gibson caused problems for the home defence when he cut in from the right and defender David Latham was fortunate to deflect his shot into the side-netting rather than into the net itself.
It was all Whitley and after McDonald and Kempster both went close, Shanks doubled the lead after 14 minutes when he was played clear on the left of the penalty area and comfortably slotted the ball past Bell.
David Keithley skied the ball high over the bar in a rare break upfield, but in the 27th minute Whitley went three up following a good flowing move.
Kempster played an accurate pass out to Shanks who played the ball low across the goalmouth where Davis nonchalantly back heeled the ball over the line from close range.
It was all looking very easy for Whitley, but rather than pressing home their advantage, the players seemed content to sit back and it gave Esh the chance to gain more possession, and as a result the County Durham side grew in confidence.
Nine minutes before the interval, careless defending by Whitley saw them concede a penalty for a trip inside the box. Captain Adam Ward’s perfectly executed spot kick gave Gladstone no chance and offered Esh a glimmer of hope.
Five minutes later Shanks burst through but his shot was saved low down, and after Daniel Mann’s first time effort failed to test Gladstone, Whitley ended the half in the ascendency as Shanks had a shot blocked and the rebound fell for Ivanov who saw his attempt crash off the inside of the post and roll agonisingly across the goal and past the far post.
Three minutes after the interval, a defensive howler by the home side following a throw-in deep inside the Esh half handed possession to Shanks who calmly rounded the keeper and tapped the ball into an unguarded net.
Almost immediately Josh Day, a half-time replacement for Steve Gibson, might have added a fifth but hesitated and the chance was gone.
Two minutes later Chris McDonald’s powerful shot struck the post with Bell beaten, and then just seconds after coming off the bench to replace Davis, and with virtually his first touch of the ball, Hylton Laws slid the ball home at the back post following a cross from Shanks.
At 5-1 Whitley were in complete command and two minutes later Kempster created an opening for Day but the defender-turned-striker for the second half could only find the side-netting.
Kempster was having no luck at all and despite having a series of chances, could not apply the crucial finishing touch after good approach work.
The home side were tiring and their substitutions made little impact and it was Whitley who finished the game with a flourish, scoring three times in the closing stages.
Ten minutes from time, Ivanov played the ball beyond the home defence and Day slotted home goal number six and his first for the club.
Three minutes later it looked as if Ivanov would get the goal he deserved, but his shot was cleared off the line.
With five minutes left, Shanks completed his hat-trick, chesting Day’s cross over the line at the back post from no more than a foot out, for what was his 30th goal of the season.
There was still time for Stuart Bramley to add an eighth with a 20-yard shot that Bell failed to hold, the ball rolling out of his grasp and across the line.
It was as comprehensive a victory as anyone could wish to see, and it made a perfect birthday present for long serving club secretary Derek Breakwell.
Chandler was happy with the result and in particular the second half performance, but admitted that after a good start to the game he was disappointed with what he described as some sloppy play towards the end of the first period.
In the semifinal Whitley have been drawn away to the winners of the tie between Marske United and Easington Colliery
Whitley Gay: Gladstone, Gibson (Day 46), McDonald, Anderson, Bramley, R Flynn, Prosser (Chambers 48) Ivanov, Shanks, Davis (Laws 51), Kempster.