|FA Vase 2nd Round||294|
|Saturday 15th November 2008||Whitley Bay V Abbey Hey||5-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
The final score in this FA Vase tie would suggest that Whitley had a fairly comfortable passage into the next round, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
Ten minutes after half time, with the visitors leading 2-0 most Bay fans were fearing a shock exit from the competition in which Whitley have achieved such great success in recent years, being semi finalists last season and winners in 2002.
However, they battled back to level the score and take the game to extra time, where they eventually established their superiority.
Abbey Hey, from east Manchester, arrived at Hillheads as underdogs, having had a poor start to the season in the North West Counties League, but recent improvements in their form suggested that Whitley would certainly not have everything their own way and so it proved.
The early signs were encouraging for Whitley as Chris Moore outpaced his marker and his cross to Paul Chow was put behind for a corner. Moore again posed a threat with a lob beyond the keeper into the goalmouth but the ball was cleared by central defender Aaron Dennis. Abbey Hey began to exert pressure of their own and a good move downfield ended with captain Keith Wedge firing a shot across the face of goal and behind for a goal kick. Midway through the half, Whitley went close when Chris Fawcett crossed from the right and although Chow reacted quickly and got past the keeper he poked the ball wide of goal. Bruce Hogg showed good control out on the wing before giving Chow another opportunity which he headed wide of the target.
There was little to choose between the teams at this stage and just past the half hour the Manchester side almost took the lead when Nevins struck a great 20 yard shot that Burke did extremely well to finger tip away for a corner. Another near miss for the visitors followed soon after then when Ryan hesitated, Nevins nipped in and only the alertness of Burke, who dived to collect the ball at the feet of the striker, prevented a goal. Minutes later, Burke made another great save; pushing away a goal bound shot with Coulson clearing the loose ball. However, just moments before the half time whistle, Abbey Hey deservedly took the lead when Nevins crossed from the left and Maloney tapped home with Burke stranded.
In an attempt to improve Whitley’s fortunes, Ian Chandler made two substitutions at half time. Top scorer Paul Chow was surprisingly taken off, being replaced by Phil Bell who was making his first appearance since returning to the club, while Paul Robinson, who had been left out of the starting line up having suffered hamstring trouble at Consett, came on in place of Bruce Hogg.
Despite the changes, the visitors’ confidence was high and Whitley fell further behind after 53 minutes when Nevins was given far too much time and space and he arrowed a tremendous 25 yard shot into the top corner of the net giving Burke no chance whatever.
The situation was looking bleak for Whitley but they quickly got back into the game when Craig McFarlane was tripped as he broke through on goal. Despite stumbling, he attempted a shot which was saved, but with his assistant flagging for a penalty, the referee awarded a spot kick and Paul Robinson just beat the dive of Steve Downs to make the score 2-1. With the crowd of just under 300 urging them on, Whitley began to pose much more of a threat and a cross from Moore was put behind by Dennis as for the first time, the visitors were put under pressure.
Moore should have levelled the score after 72 minutes when he was put through on goal but he blazed the ball over the bar. Time was ticking away and the Manchester side were only eight minutes away from victory when Bell’s throw on the left was headed on by Ryan to the unmarked Moore who made amends for his earlier miss by striking the ball back across the keeper and into the far corner of the net for the equaliser.
Two minutes later, Phil Bell almost became the hero of the hour but his header from Moore’s cross went inches wide of the post and in the time that remained, neither side could find a winner so the game went to extra time.
Some of the crowd, thinking that the game was over and would go to a replay, were making their way out of the ground but fortunately, most were brought back by the shouts of other fans. Those who did not return missed a dramatic conclusion!
Whitley began extra time looking stronger and when Ryan played a long ball over the top, Kerr missed a great chance when he fired over the bar. At the other end, Burke again came to Whitley’s rescue with a goal line save, aided by David Coulson. Fittingly, it was Coulson, the captain, who put Whitley in front for the first time three minutes before the midway stage of extra time, sliding home Paul Robinson’s cross at the back post.
Two minutes into the final period, Burke again made a diving save to deny the visitors who continued to battle away and refused to accept defeat.
The moment that settled the tie came 10 minutes from the end of extra time when Paul Robinson took the ball to the by line. With two red shirted defenders in close attention, he somehow took the ball past them both before cutting it back to Lee Kerr in front of goal who fired home from close range to put Whitley 4-2 ahead. Robinson’s skill was breathtaking and it came at a crucial stage. The game was now won and although the visitors continued to push forward, Whitley were well in control. Robinson had the final say when he broke clear just inside the Abbey Hey half and raced away to slot home the fifth goal a minute from time. The 5-2 score line was harsh on the Manchester side, but the Whitley fans were not complaining, and at the final whistle both sides were given a standing ovation as they left the field.
Terry Burke, whose excellent goalkeeping kept Whitley in the game, was named as Bay’s man of the match with dangerous striker Adie Nevins getting the award for Abbey Hey. Arguably Paul Robinson was a close second for Whitley particularly for his contribution to the three extra time goals.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, Fawcett(Timmons 62mins), McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Kerr, Chow(Bell 45mins), Hogg(Robinson 45mins)