|Northumberland Senior Cup 1st Round||n/k|
|Wednesday 22nd October 2008||Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics V Whitley Bay||3-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley’s involvement in this season’s Northumberland Senior Cup ended in disappointment when they were beaten by local rivals Newcastle Benfield in the First Round.
The first half was action packed, with all five goals coming in the first 38 minutes as both sides were intent on attacking. However, the pattern changed after the interval, with Benfield largely content to hold on to their lead while Whitley battled away in vain for an equaliser.
The game started well for Whitley and they took the lead after just six minutes when Paul Chow rose to head powerfully past Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger from Chris Moore’s right wing cross. However, as has been the case too often this season, Whitley were unable to hold on to their advantage and five minutes later they inexplicably allowed Dean Fuller to run virtually the full length of the pitch unchallenged. A short pass then put Mark Atkinson clear on the left and his cross to the far past saw Ian Graham beat Terry Burke from close range for the equaliser. After 18 minutes Benfield went ahead but this time there was little that Whitley could do as Paul Anthony arrowed a great 20 yard shot into the top corner of the net, giving the partially unsighted Burke no chance.
The action continued unabated and just five minutes later, Bay fans thought they were back on terms when Lee Kerr drove in a fine 20 yard effort but the ball crashed off the stanchion, the ball flashing just inches the wrong side of the post. On 25 minutes Whitley did draw level when a right wing corner from Robinson was cleared only as far as Ryan on the edge of the area and the Bay defender smashed the ball into the net to make the score 2-2. Six minutes later, Whitley had the ball in the Benfield net again when Chow responded quickly after Grainger could not hold onto a shot but the celebrations were cut short when the goal was deemed offside by the linesman.
A very soft pitch was cutting up badly in places and Whitley players seemed to be suffering more than the home side, slipping at crucial moments. Benfield looked dangerous every time they attacked, breaking forward with tremendous speed down both flanks and putting the Bay defence under pressure. Ryan made a point blank block to deny Leighton when the home side’s captain got a close range header on target.
What proved to be the deciding goal came two minutes later when Paul Buzzeo scored from close range with Burke on the ground after the Bay keeper had done well to block the Benfield man’s first shot.
After half time, Whitley laid siege to the Benfield goal. Within two minutes of the resumption the ball was cleared off the line and then Robinson’s shot was saved. Whitley created plenty more chances but either squandered them or were denied by good goalkeeping. Robinson was below his clinical best and did not seriously threaten but on the balance of play during the second period, Whitley should at least have forced extra time. Three substitutions failed to make any difference as Benfield’s defence tightened up and gave little away, leaving Whitley frustrated.
For the neutral, this was a thoroughly entertaining game between two of the better sides in the competition but that was no consolation to Whitley, as they went down to their third defeat in their last four games.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor(Livermore 79mins), Picton, McFarlane(Hay 85mins), Coulson(Woodhouse 76mins), Ryan, Moore, Robson, Kerr, Chow, Robinson