|skilltrainingltd League Division One||99|
|Saturday 22nd November 2008||West Auckland Town V Whitley Bay||0-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
A 35th minute goal from Chris Reid earned Whitley three valuable points at West Auckland on Saturday and extended their winning run to three games.
The main talking point among Bay fans before kick off was the team selection, with Rob McLean keeping his place in goal ahead of Terry Burke, while the quality of players on the substitutesí bench, which was made up of Hogg, Burke, Reay, Moore and Robinson, merely emphasised the strength in depth of Ian Chandlerís squad.
If the starting line up contained one or two surprises, they turned out to be justified as the game plan worked and Whitley mastered the poor playing surface better then the home side. Indeed with a little more luck the margin of victory might have been much greater.
Whitley started well and in the second minute, a long throw from the left was headed on by Phil Bell to Paul Chow who cut the ball back across the face of an unguarded goal where Damon Robson only just failed to get the finishing touch.
With nine minutes played Chris Reidís corner was knocked out to Leon Ryan whose lob over the defenders just cleared the bar. A minute later Paul Chow burst through on the right but his low shot was well saved by keeper Simon Hall.
The game became rather scrappy at times with passes going astray on the uneven surface but Whitley were the dominant side, McLean having little to do behind a Whitley defence that looked assured with Taylor, Coulson, Ryan and Timmons giving the Auckland front men little space.
Ten minutes before the interval, Chow was tripped as he broke through on goal and from just over 20 yards, Chris Reidís free kick crashed off the underside of the bar and across the line to give Whitley a thoroughly deserved lead. A few moments later, a late tackle resulted in Reid being cautioned, but retaliation by Neil Lowden caused a flare up following which the West Auckland man was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch. Reidís goal came at the identical stage as in the League Cup tie in midweek and he is looking a very useful and versatile player.
Whitley might have increased their lead before half time when Lee Kerrís free kick was cut back across goal by Bell but Chow scooped the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score. Then from another free kick, Ryanís header caused problems for the keeper but Chow was out of luck again, driving the loose ball wide of goal.
Playing down the slope after the break, Whitley were soon testing the home defence when from midfield, Kerr played Chow away down the middle but again the final shot failed to test the keeper.
Whitley brought on Chris Moore, Darren Reay and Bruce Hogg during the last half hour but despite their efforts, a second goal would not come.
Inevitably the home side pushed upfield in search of an equaliser but there were few anxious moments for Whitley as Ryan and Coulson snuffed out what attacks were mounted while McLean commanded his area well.
Nine minutes from time, Whitley nearly doubled their lead with what would have been a quite bizarre goal. A cross from the right wing was powerfully mis-headed towards his own net by West Auckland defender Neil Pattinson but keeper Simon Hall made a tremendous diving save to push the ball wide and save his defender from embarrassment. Ironically, this was only the second effort that the home side had on target all afternoon!
In the closing stages, Bruce Hogg went close but player/manager Brian Fairhurst blocked his shot and then in the final minute Ryan headed over from Hoggís corner.
A second successive clean sheet was an encouraging outcome of the game as Whitley ended their sequence of poor away results.
Two important home games against Benfield and Spennymoor now follow, and victory against these two strong sides would propel Whitley back up among the front runners in the League.
WHITLEY BAY: McLean, Taylor, Timmons, McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Bell(Hogg 73mins), Robson, Kerr, Chow(Moore 59mins), Reid(Reay 67mins)