|skilltrainingltd League Division One||204|
|Saturday 23rd August 2008||Whitley Bay V Billingham Synthonia||1-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Down to ten men for more than half of this game, Whitley fought back strongly in the second half to earn a point and they can count themselves unfortunate not to have collected all three.
Terry Burke was back in goal and with Mark Minto not fully fit, Mark Taylor came into the side that was otherwise unchanged from the midweek victory at Bedlington.
In the early stages, defences were on top with play largely confined to midfield. With 12 minutes gone, Chris Moore found some space on the right and whipped in a cross that Paul Chow got a foot to but the ball was deflected into the Billingham keeper’s hands. The visitors’ first chance came when Tyson Masters, a prolific scorer signed from Shildon during the summer, sent a dangerous looking cross into the penalty area but Bay captain David Coulson headed the ball back safely into the arms of Burke.
The game was beginning to open up and another cross from Moore was headed down by Chow into the path of Robbie Livermore, who brought a good save from Synners keeper Peter Keen. Whitley fans thought their team had scored on the half hour when Kerr struck a shot into the net after Chow cut the ball back into the goalmouth, but it had already crossed the by line before Chow’s cross so a goal kick was awarded.
The incident that turned the game came after 37 minutes, when Billingham were on the attack and the ball was played across the Bay penalty area. A misunderstanding when defender Darren Timmons was expecting Burke to come out and collect the ball resulted in Burke remaining on his line with Timmons handling the ball to keep it clear of a Billingham attacker. Inevitably a penalty was awarded and with no other Whitley player between Timmons and his keeper, Timmons was sent off. David Yale scored from the penalty spot to leave Whitley a goal down and a player short.
Seeing their opportunity, Billingham launched a series of attacks on the depleted Bay defence. Burke made a good save from Nathan Jameson and then Masters broke through only to fire a shot into the side netting, much to the relief of the home side. The half time whistle came to Whitley’s rescue, giving them time to reorganise their defence.
After the break, Whitley came out determined to get back into the game and when Moore threatened to break through, Yale fouled him and was duly booked. With 54 minutes played, Whitley were denied what seemed a certain penalty when Chow was pushed over as he raced into the goalmouth to reach a cross from Moore, but the referee waved away the appeals. A minute later, Masters attempted a long range shot at the other end but the ball went wide of goal and Burke was not troubled.
Whitley continued to attack while Synners seemed content simply to hold on to their lead despite having a one man advantage. A good effort from Kerr was saved by the keeper but then in a rare break away, Billingham substitute Revely sliced a shot wide when clear on goal. Paul Robinson, out of the side with an injury since the opening day of the season, was brought on for the final stages and he quickly made his presence felt in midfield, pushing the Teessiders back into defence for much of the closing stages. Loud shouts for a penalty came, but were ignored by the officials, when Robinson powered a shot into a ruck of Billingham defenders and a player appeared to handle the ball, and it seemed that all the crucial decisions were going the way of the visitors. Time was running out but with just three minutes remaining, Robinson floated a free kick into the goalmouth where Ryan headed the ball onto the bar. Paul Chow met the rebound, heading it into the net from close range much to the relief and delight of the Bay fans.
There was still time for Whitley to threaten a winner and they launched attack after attack. Damon Robson was racing down the right when Neil Campbell committed the most cynical of fouls, tripping Robson in full flight without making any attempt to reach the ball. This was also a potentially dangerous tackle but to the amazement of the crowd, the referee only showed a yellow card.
Whitley deserve great credit for a battling second half performance. As at Bedlington, the midfield players, notably Robbie Livermore, fought for every ball and deserved greater reward for their efforts.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, Graham(Robinson 68mins), Timmons, Coulson(Woodhouse 79mins), Ryan, Moore, Robson, Kerr, Chow, Livermore(Minto 74mins)