|skilltrainingltd League Division One||131|
|Tuesday 29th September 2009||Billingham Town V Whitley Bay||1-6|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley took over at the top of the Northern League First Division table after putting six goals past Billingham Town on a memorable evening on Teesside. The game was effectively won after a quarter of an hour, following a blistering five minute spell when Whitley scored three times to leave the home side shell shocked.There was little indication of what was to come early on and indeed it was Billingham who almost took the lead after eight minutes when an excellent shot from distance by John Maddison was pushed onto the post by Tom Kindley, the ball rebounding to safety for Whitley. Two minutes later the goal rush began, when Leon Ryan headed home a cross from the left. With 13 minutes on the clock, Paul Robinson’s shot from the right edge of the penalty area was headed past the keeper by Phil Bell then barely two minutes later the home defence was left bemused as Johnston’s ball to Robinson was played on to Bell who fired the ball home to put Whitley into a commanding 3-0 lead.
At this stage it looked as if last season’s 8-0 victory over Billingham at Hillheads might be surpassed, but quite understandably Whitley eased off allowing the home side to regain their composure and when they broke upfield, Jonathon French missed a good opportunity, firing well wide of goal. Whitley still threatened to extend their lead and a long ball out of defence found Adam Johnston on the right wing. His cross into the goalmouth reached Bell but his header was deflected wide of goal by Town defender Sean Boynton. With 32 minutes played, Whitley could well have got a fourth goal when Robinson’s cross found Richard Hodgson but in a crowded goalmouth his shot was inadvertently blocked by Adam Johnston. The home side gamely fought back and Stuart Bath was denied when Kindley pushed his shot wide of goal. Three minutes before the interval, Chris Fawcett was scythed down by Bath who could consider himself fortunate to escape with only a yellow card. The half ended with Whitley going close yet again, Ryan heading onto the roof of the net from Hodgson’s cross.
There was a short delay at half time when the match referee was unable to continue after suffering an injury. Following an appeal for a replacement official, a qualified assistant referee in the ground ran the line in the second half.
The early stages saw Billingham continue to battle hard but they were again frustrated by Tom Kindley who made a fine save to deny Maddison. A perfect cross from Craig McFarlane saw the unlucky Paul Chow crash a tremendous volley against a post with keeper Josh Moody well beaten. The home side could hardly have been encouraged by the quality of the players on the Whitley bench and just short of the hour the sight of Chris Moore and Lee Kerr being brought on must have filled them with trepidation.
After Kindley had twice kept the home side out, Maddison broke clear but Darren Timmons raced back to block his shot. Timmons played the full 90 minutes for the first time since recovering from injury and looks well on the road to full fitness. His presence gave Ian Chandler the opportunity to rest David Coulson, with Leon Ryan taking the captain’s armband for the evening.
Paul Robinson produced a moment of tremendous ball control and entertainment for the Bay fans when he took the ball past three Billingham players but then drove his shot over the bar. A minute later, Lee Kerr finished off a great flowing move which cut through the home defence for Whitley’s fourth goal. This seemed to dent the spirits of the home side, and Chris Moore began to torment them down the right wing with a series of mazy runs and crosses into the goalmouth. One such cross went just behind Kerr and the onrushing Bell, who was searching to complete what would have been a well deserved hat trick. However, Moore’s efforts paid off soon after when his ball down the right was crossed by Bell and Kerr sent a spectacular flying header into the roof of the net to make the score 5-0.
Bell kept pressurising the home defence and after a header went over the bar, he would have hoped to do better after Kerr broke away and played him in on goal but his shot lacked power and Moody made the save. Substitute Damon Robson sent a rising shot just over the bar as Whitley finished strongly but then Billingham, who to their credit never gave up, pulled a goal back with three minutes of the 90 still to play when Michael Dalton finished off a good move from close range.
Whitley responded immediately and within a minute had restored their five goal lead when Moore raced clear of the tiring Town defence and his cross was drilled home by Paul Robinson, to the delight of the sizeable band of travelling fans in what was a rather sparse crowd. In the final minute of added time Lee Kerr nearly added a seventh goal but the ball was somehow cleared to the relief of the home side.
All in all this was excellent entertainment on a good playing surface and having travelled through rain, drizzle and fog on the way to Teesside, it turned out to be a dry, clear and calm evening, perfect for players and spectators alike.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, McFarlane, Fawcett, Anderson, Timmons, Ryan, Chow(Robson 64mins), Hodgson(Moore 57mins), Johnston(Kerr 57mins), Bell, Robinson