|FA Cup Preliminary Round||357|
|Saturday 29th August 2009||Newcastle Benfield V Whitley Bay||1-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
This FA Cup tie, a local derby between North Tyneside’s top two teams was a closely contested game but it was Whitley who came out on top thanks to goals from Paul Chow and Adam Johnston.A strong wind that blew diagonally across the pitch made conditions difficult and, as is often the case, it was the team playing into the worst of the wind that coped better.
In the first half that was Benfield and in the opening stages they had the majority of the game. Their work rate and speed made life tricky for Whitley but the Bay defence looked confident, as would be expected from a side that had kept five clean sheets in their six games to date.
Benfield’s Adam Scope was prominent and with 12 minutes played his shot landed on the roof of the net although Tom Kindley appeared to have the ball covered. Whitley’s first productive attack came two minutes later when neat approach work from Paul Chow and Lee Kerr gave Paul Robinson an opening and he played the ball through to Adam Johnston whose first time effort flew over the bar. Benfield’s reserve keeper Scott Pocklington only just held on to a strongly hit free kick a minute later but for the next 15 minutes, Whitley were pushed back with the game being played in midfield and in the Whitley half.
Benfield were given very few openings as Whitley defended well but on the half hour, Paul Anthony curled a good effort towards goal which Kindley saved comfortably.
When Whitley pushed forward, the ball was often blown into touch but Chris Moore was beginning to get the better of his marker and with 35 minutes played, he outpaced defender Dean Fuller down the right, then played a great ball to the edge of the six yard box, where Paul Chow got his foot to the it and slid the ball past Pocklington into the far corner of the net. It could be argued that the goal came slightly against the run of play but Whitley had taken the chance that had come their way while Benfield had failed to make the most of their territorial advantage.
When Callum Anderson threatened to burst through from defence, he was tripped by Fuller, who was cautioned following several earlier niggling offences on Moore.
Just when it looked as if Whitley would go in at half time with a one goal advantage, Benfield equalised with virtually the last kick of the half. It came when Scope was allowed to work his way along the by line inside the penalty area before chipping the ball across goal to where Dean Nicholson squeezed a header in the narrow gap between Kindley and the back post. It was a good move from the home side but from a Whitley point of view it was a sloppy goal to concede and there was only just time for the game to restart when the half time whistle was blown.
After the interval, Chris Fawcett replaced Paul Robinson as Whitley changed tactics, attacking with pace down both wings. It was becoming increasingly clear that Benfield were struggling to cope with the speed of Moore, and Nicholson was soon booked for tripping the Whitley right winger. On the other flank, Chris Fawcett had the beating of Buzzeo and Benfield were beginning to look stretched at the back. Pressure from Moore and Johnston ended with the ball being put behind for a Whitley corner that was eventually cleared. Two minutes before the hour, Fawcett raced clear on the left and cut into the penalty area where he was tripped by defender Chris Carr. It was an obvious spot kick and gave Whitley the chance to restore their lead. Adam Johnston took the kick but Pocklington dived the right way and blocked the ball. However, Johnston reacted quickly and he netted the rebound, firing the ball over the keeper. Whitley were now looking the stronger side and a third goal at this stage might well have put the game beyond Benfield. However, the goal did not come and gradually, as would be expected of the league champions, Benfield battled their way back into the game. Scope threatened with good running from midfield but he could find no way through a defence that was superbly marshalled by Coulson and Ryan. Craig McFarlane and Callum Anderson fought for every ball while Tom Kindley, growing in stature with every game that he plays, punched the ball clear on several occasions when the swirling wind made it difficult to judge the flight of crosses into the goalmouth.
Whitley still posed a threat down both flanks, with a cross from Moore bringing a good save from Pocklington as he held onto Chow’s header while Buzzeo was another Benfield player to be cautioned after he tripped Fawcett.
Phil Bell and Damon Robson were both brought on during the last half hour and with Benfield throwing every player forward in the closing stages, the fresh legs were vital to Whitley’s cause. Benfield continued to push the ball forward but whenever it was crossed into the goalmouth, it was a Whitley head, or Kindley’s hand, that got to it first. Long range efforts were blown well off target in the wind as desperation began to creep into the home side’s game.
In the end it was Whitley who emerged victorious having withstood the best efforts of Benfield to force a replay and the large contingent of Bay fans, estimated at around 250, celebrated with the team at the final whistle.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, McFarlane, Anderson, Hodgson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Kerr, Johnston(Bell 65mins), Chow(Robson 76mins), Robinson(Fawcett 46mins)