|skilltrainingltd League Division One||303|
|Saturday 1st November 2008||Whitley Bay V Penrith Town||4-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley ended a three match losing run with a hard fought and confidence boosting victory over Penrith on Saturday. In an attempt to revive his team’s fortunes, Ian Chandler brought in Chris Reid and Bruce Hogg. Andy Hay also made the starting line up for the first time since returning to the club last month. Making way for this trio were Lee Kerr and Leon Ryan, who were named among the substitutes and Lee Picton who was unavailable.
On a bright and sunny afternoon both teams started in positive style and after just three minutes, a close range effort from Paul Chow hit the post with Penrith keeper James Holland scrambling to push the rebound away. Three minutes later, Terry Burke had to race out of goal to clear a long ball but a dangerous challenge from Penrith striker Michael Reed caught the Bay keeper on the shin. Play had to be held up while Burke received attention and Reed was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card.
Penrith continued to threaten when play resumed and Burke had to dive full length to save a low shot from David Lynn. A few minutes later the ball flew across the Bay goalmouth and was twice partially cleared before Burke made another fine save to deny Mark Birch what seems like a certain goal. Having withstood a period of pressure, Whitley retaliated in the best way possible. With 19 minutes played, Bruce Hogg crossed from the left and Paul Chow escaped his marker to head home at the near post to put Whitley ahead. The ball took a slight deflection from a defender but it made little difference with the keeper well beaten. Three minutes later, Chris Moore raced down the right wing and his cross found Chow whose shot was blocked by Holland but the ball ran loose to Andy Hay who fired it into the net from six yards. Given their earlier pressure, Penrith could consider themselves unlucky to be two goals down but Whitley had taken the chances that had come their way and looked much more confident than in recent games.
The Cumbrians battled back well and five minutes later Daniel Robinson broke clear and rounded Burke, only to be denied by Bay captain David Coulson who got back quickly to put the ball behind for a corner. Burke was having a great game and he needed to be alert a few minutes later when Robertson came up from defence to test the Bay keeper with a glancing header. Despite their best efforts, Penrith could not find a way through a determined Whitley rearguard and at half time the score remained 2-0 in Whitley’s favour.
After the break, Chris Reid, who had made a good impression, but had taken a bad knock shortly before the interval, was replaced by Leon Ryan. Former Whitley winger Dean Douglas was showing good pace down the wings for Penrith but he was being closely shadowed by Craig McFarlane, who gave him little space. Burke was again in the thick of the action, making a double save early in the half, pushing another Robertson header round the post.
Whitley gradually gained the upper hand and Ryan headed narrowly over the bar from a Bruce Hogg corner. A low volley from Paul Robinson then flashed inches wide of the post with Holland well beaten.
Whitley brought on Lee Kerr in place of Hay for the final half hour and he soon caused problems for the visitors. The game was not yet won however, and Penrith to their credit kept plugging away but in the 76th minute, intricate play between Robinson and Moore eventually put Moore clear on the left edge of the penalty area from where he drilled a low shot into the net off the near post, to give Whitley the cushion of a third goal. Nine minutes from time, Craig McFarlane chased a long ball down the right wing. It looked like a lost cause but he caught the ball inches from the by line and crossed it into the goalmouth where the on-rushing Chow poked it over the bar from close range. In the last minute of normal time, Moore again crossed from the left and Chow got a touch to divert the ball into the corner of the net for Whitley’s fourth goal and his 16th of the season.
Deep into stoppage time, Michael Brown got a consolation goal for Penrith when he scored from close range after the ball had not been cleared. While it came far too late to affect the result, the Cumbrian side did deserve some reward for their efforts, although after one of their best defensive performances in recent weeks, Whitley will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet.
For the second successive League game, there were more than 300 spectators at Hillheads, easily the best attendance in the Northern League, and the fans will have gone home happy after seeing an entertaining game with plenty of goals. Whitley are in fact averaging almost four goals a game at Hillheads this season, a testament to Ian Chandler’s attacking policy.
The win puts Whitley back into the middle of a closely packed Northern League table, and with three of the top sides losing, there is still everything to play for. If they can put a winning sequence together, Whitley will be back among the leaders.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Timmons, Reid(Ryan 45mins), McFarlane, Coulson, Hogg(Reay 55min), Moore, Robson, Hay(Kerr 64mins), Chow, Robinson.