Whitley Bay SC 2-3 Rothbury
Michael Old bagged a brace as Rothbury stretched their sensational winning run to nine games and went five points clear at the top of Division Two.
His strike partner Daniel Thompson chalked up the other as the Reds weathered Storm Callum at Valley Gardens and inflicted a first home defeat of the season on a Whitley Bay SC side that were hot on their heels at kick-off.
The success not only extended Rothbury’s lead at the top, but also gave them some breathing space as their next two fixtures are both Cup ties – against Premier Division Newcastle Chemfica in the League Cup this weekend, and Jesmond in the Amateur Cup quarter finals the week after.
The Bay defenders must be sick of the sight of Old as he rattled in a hat-trick against them at Armstrong Park in the previous round, and the experienced striker had his shooting boots on again as the keeper stooped to pick the ball out of the net from him twice.
But the Hillmen had to do it the hard way as they fought back from 2-0 down with goals from Thomas Atkinson and Arron Moulding either side of the break putting Bay in the driving seat.
Joint-player boss Dan Herron was delighted with the battling display and felt the side had shown real character to dig in for the three points.
“The pitch was dead bobbly, the wind was horrendous and it felt like the ball was out of play more than it was in,” he said. “We had a whole host of chances in the first half - hitting the post through Tony Brown and their keeper making two or three top saves, not to mention the last ditch blocks from their defence too.”
“The lads were understandably deflated to concede just before half time, against the run of play – mind, their winger took the goal well. In the second half we came out of the blocks well and began to carve more chances, but were sucker-punched by a free kick goal which was well-hit. We were so unlucky to be 2-0 down,” Herron continued.
Rothbury made changes soon after, bringing on big Gareth McCann and switching to a more attacking formation, and it paid dividends as Old sparked the fight-back when he fired home before the in-form Thompson shook the rainwater off the roof of the netting as he slotted the leveller into the bottom corner.
“The spirit shown by the whole squad to have a lift and take the lead after being two down is not to be underestimated - it really shows the character of the lads which is a great relationship both on and off the field. It looks like coming back from behind is bread and butter for us now, but I definitely don’t want us to make a habit of it. All in all, we felt it was a quality fight-back in atrocious conditions and it’s amazing to be five points clear after a third of the season ,” admitted Herron.
Old grabbed the winner when he glanced in a header from a corner and said modestly afterwards: “With the amount of corners we won into double figures, one was sure to go in.”