|skilltrainingltd League Division One||547|
|Saturday 26th September 2009||Whitley Bay V Ashington||4-0|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
In recent years, games between Whitley Bay and Ashington have been very one sided, with Whitley regularly running out convincing winners. However, the Colliers are a much tougher proposition this season under new manager Gary Middleton, who of course captained Whitley’s Vase winning side in 2002.The biggest Northern League crowd of the season, a total of 547 spectators, basked in warm late summer sunshine and were treated to a thoroughly entertaining game. The match was rightly billed the top game in the Northern League with the Bay in third place and Ashington just one point and one place behind. The final score might suggest that Whitley had things much their own way but that was certainly not the case, especially in the first half, when the Colliers gave as good as they got.
Early on the visitors looked lively, breaking quickly from defence with Andrew Johnson catching the eye on a number of occasions. Whitley’s first attempt on goal came when Chris Moore’s cross from the right was volleyed over the bar by Leon Ryan. With 12 minutes played, Chris Fawcett attacked down the left wing and played a perfect ball for Paul chow but his header took a deflection and flew over the bar. Two minutes later, Chris Reid’s free kick from out on the left was put wide by Ryan. Moments later, Ashington broke away and Johnson fired in a powerful shot from wide on the right and Kindley did well to push the ball over the bar. With 20 minutes played, defender Alex Houlsby tried his luck for the visitors with a long range shot that drifted wide of goal.
Play was quickly switching from end to end as both sides searched for the breakthrough and two minutes later, Whitley appeals for a penalty were ignored when Chow appeared to be nudged by a defender as he tried to break through on goal. Scott Blandford, one of several ex Whitley players in the Ashington side, then tried his luck from fully 30 yards and was only inches away from what would have been a spectacular goal.
In Whitley’s next attack, Chris Fawcett, whose pace was troubling the visitors, set up a chance for Moore, whose first touch let him down and the opportunity was gone. Back at the other end, an excellent save from Kindley denied David Colvin when the winger broke away and looked sure to score.
With both sides creating openings, a goal had to come and it was Whitley who made the breakthrough six minutes before half time. Chris Reid’s throw from the left saw both David Coulson and Ashington keeper Karl Dryden go for the ball. Coulson reacted quickly when the ball ran loose, lashing it into the net from close range.
The visitors may have felt aggrieved to be a goal behind at the interval but they had failed to make the most of their opportunities whereas Whitley had capitalised on one of theirs.
Manager Ian Chandler made a double substitution at the break, with Paul Robinson and Richard Hodgson coming off the bench, a move which saw the Bay gain a stronger grip in midfield.
Barely 30 seconds after the restart, Whitley doubled their lead when the unmarked Adam Johnston tapped home from close range after being played in by Paul Chow. In the build up to the goal, Ashington felt that Whitley should have been penalised for a high tackle when Nickols attempted to head the ball clear, but referee Mr Traynor waved play on and Whitley took full advantage.
This goal seemed to knock some of the confidence out of the Colliers and Whitley began to take a grip on the game. With Robson and Robinson controlling midfield, Hodgson and Fawcett were able to push the visitors back and put pressure on their defence. In one such move, Hodgson out on the right floated the ball over to Kerr who drove the ball just wide with Dryden at full stretch. Just past the hour, Robson broke down the right and when his cross was put behind, Hodgson delivered the corner which Johnston, again escaping his marker, headed home to put Whitley into a commanding 3-0 lead. Darren Timmons then came off the bench to continue his rehabilitation following lengthy injury while there was also a warm welcome for former Bay favourite Mark Minto who was brought on for the Colliers as they searched for a way back into the game. Whitley were well on top now and Chris Fawcett, who had a spell with Ashington a few years ago, saw a tremendous shot pushed over the bar by Dryden. Johnston, now looking for a hat trick, went close before Whitley got their fourth goal from another corner. Paul Robinson’s in swinging flag kick from the left to the back post was headed home by Leon Ryan with 15 minutes still remaining and it looked as if Ashington might capitulate.
However, to their credit they battled back in the closing stages and with a little more steadiness in front of goal might have reduced the margin of victory. Minto headed wide when well placed while another substitute, Keith Douglas wasted an excellent close range chance.
The victory maintained Whitley’s 100% league record and moved them up to second place, one point behind new leaders Penrith with two games in hand. They have now scored 24 goals in eight league games, conceding just four with this being their fifth clean sheet. No wonder the fans are turning up in ever greater numbers!
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, McFarlane, Reid(Robinson 45mins), Robson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore(Hodgson 45mins), Chow, Johnston, Kerr( Timmons 63mins), Fawcett