|skilltrainingltd League Division One||163|
|Saturday 3rd October 2009||Billingham Synthonia V Whitley Bay||1-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley surrendered their 100% league record at a windswept Central Avenue ground on Saturday but remain unbeaten thanks to Leon Ryan’s header three minutes into stoppage time.Their second visit to Billingham in four days was a totally different proposition from the game across the road at Bedford Terrace on Tuesday evening. There was no goal rush and despite another excellent playing surface, the conditions made good football extremely difficult with a near gale force wind blowing across the ground.
The five players named as substitutes on Tuesday all made the starting line up this time as Ian Chandler continued to rotate his squad.
Whitley had the better of the opening stages with Chris Moore just off target after being played through by Paul Robinson. A nasty injury to Damon Robson meant an early substitution when a clash of heads left blood pouring from a cut which required stitches. Richard Hodgson was the natural replacement and he took Robson’s place in midfield. Another incident just two minutes later saw Leon Ryan felled as a stray elbow from Billingham’s Nathan Jameson caught him on the head. Fortunately Ryan soon recovered and was able to continue but Jameson was cautioned for the foul.
The Synners first and only real opportunity of the opening half came after 20 minutes when a goal bound shot from a corner was headed off the line by Robinson. A minute later at the other end Lee Kerr had an excellent 25 yard effort tipped over the bar by keeper Chris Porter. A timely tackle by Billingham’s Craig Perry, who had earlier been booked for a trip on Chris Fawcett, prevented Moore from having a clear run on goal but then with Whitley continuing to push forward, Phil Bell got past his man and with the keeper well off his line had a great chance to score but when a first time effort might have been the better option, he tried to place the ball and it drifted inches beyond the far post. Bell was again in the thick of the action just before the interval, heading wide from Hodgson’s cross.
Although there had been no goals, Whitley’s play in the first half had shown sufficient promise to suggest that they should be able to press on and record what would have been their tenth successive league win.
However, three minutes into the second half, they were dealt a serious blow when Richard Hodgson brought Nathan Jameson down from behind, leaving the Billingham man with ligament damage and needing to be carried off on a stretcher. Hodgson was shown a red card for serious foul play leaving Whitley to play almost the entire second period with ten men.
Despite their numerical advantage, the Synners struggled to create any telling pressure while Whitley, now playing with Phil Bell as a lone striker, were comfortable in midfield but posed little threat to the home defence.
With 20 minutes to go, the Teessiders did eventually test the Bay defence, when substitute Steven Flockett closed in on goal but Tom Kindley put the ball behind for a corner. Both sides made changes in the later stages but it looked increasingly likely that the game would end in a goal less stalemate and there was little sign of the rousing finale that was to come.
In the last minute of normal time, Chris Fawcett broke on the wing and his cross was headed narrowly wide by Robinson. Play quickly switched to the other end and with the game now entering stoppage time, Colin Iley sent a low crossed into the Bay goalmouth. Attempting to play the ball behind for a corner, Darren Timmons only succeeded in diverting it past Kindley and into the corner of the net. The game looked all over, along with Whitley’s unbeaten record. However, in a last ditch effort to save the game and urged on by their travelling fans, Whitley threw players forward and when Chris Moore raced past his man on the right wing, his pinpoint cross was headed home off the inside of the post by Leon Ryan for a dramatic equaliser.
Whitley certainly did not deserve to lose and although disappointed to see the winning run come to an end after nine games, there was compensation with the news that nearest rivals Spennymoor had also drawn leaving Whitley still top of the table on goal difference.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Fawcett, Reid(Timmons 71mins) Robson(Hodgson 14mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Bell, Johnston(Chow 86mins), Kerr, Robinson
Subs not used: Picton, McFarlane
Referee Mr G Liddle