|skilltrainingltd League Division One||509|
|Saturday 31st October 2009||Whitley Bay V Tow Law Town||1-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
It was a beautifully sunny and mild autumn afternoon at Hillheads with another excellent attendance of over 500 but Whitley’s performance was more like a Hallowe’en horror show.After their superb unbeaten start to the season Whitley are going through a bad patch, as all teams do at some stage, and they have now taken just one point from their last three games. This defeat saw them knocked off the top of the table, three points behind new leaders Spennymoor but with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.
The early signs were promising as Whitley started in lively style. A long ball from midfield put Paul Chow through on goal but Tow Law keeper Simon Bishop got a hand to his shot and palmed the ball clear. A cross from the right by Chris Moore was then blocked as the visitors defence looked rather shaky.
However, when Tow Law broke downfield they forced two corners in quick succession. Marc Eccles then tried a long range shot that Terry Burke pushed wide at the expense of another corner.
A good move involving Chow and Robinson ended with Chris Moore firing a 25 yard shot only just over the bar. This was a rare moment of pressure by Whitley as the Lawyers gradually took control. A free kick from Eccles was headed over his own bar by Darren Timmons and then Paul Chow made a goal line clearance from the corner that followed. Just past the half hour a Michael Fort header landed on the roof of the net from a left wing cross.
Whitley were missing the influence of the injured Craig McFarlane and David Coulson, as well as Richard Hodgson who was suspended, and they were on the defensive for long periods, failing to string passes together and appearing lethargic. In contrast the visitors showed far more urgency, being quicker to the ball and making better use of it.
Just before the interval, Whitley raised the hopes of their fans with a set piece move and went close to breaking the deadlock when Chris Reid’s long throw was headed just over the bar by Leon Ryan.
Shortly after half time, Chris Moore tried his luck with a 20 yard shot that flew just over the bar but the pattern of the game had not significantly changed. Ten minutes after the restart, in a surprise double substitution, both wingers, Moore and Fawcett were withdrawn, to be replaced by Lee Kerr and Phil Bell.
Midway through the half, Whitley were denied what appeared to be a clear cut penalty when former Bay defender Steve Tobin used his hand to control a cross from Bell. The incident was not seen by the match officials and play was allowed to continue. Two corners then saw Whitley exert more pressure than at any stage previously. From Kerr’s first flag kick, Oliver headed over his own bar while from the second, Timmons was unlucky to see his header hit the side netting with Bishop beaten.
A somewhat contentious substitution followed when the visitors brought on Mark Salmon. The defender had been in the original starting line up but a late change was permitted when he was injured in the pre match warm up. However, he was deemed fit enough to play the last 20 minutes of the game. Almost immediately, Tow Law took the lead when Eccles fired in a shot from the left that Burke looked to have safely covered. However, the ball took a huge deflection and looped high over the keeper before dropping just under the bar for a fortuitous goal but one that was nevertheless deserved on the balance of play. Six minutes later things got even worse for Whitley after Burke had done well to save a stinging shot but the ball ran loose and Lewis Teasdale was on hand to slot it into an empty net.
Whitley retaliated and Bishop made a fine reaction save, pushing Ryan’s powerful header over the bar from Lee Kerr’s corner. Tow Law looked comfortable with a two goal lead while Whitley lacked imagination and almost seemed to have accepted defeat. With the game about to enter stoppage time, a Bay attack saw the ball ricochet inside the Lawyers’ goalmouth with several attempted shots being blocked. The referee spotted a handball and awarded Whitley a penalty, which Lee Kerr comfortably netted.
Hopes of a last gasp equaliser were short lived as the visitors had little difficulty in playing out the remaining seconds, condemning Whitley to their first home defeat since West Allotment won at Hillheads last Christmas.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Anderson, Fawcett(Bell 56mins), Reid, Timmons, Ryan, Moore(Kerr 56mins), Robson, Johnston(Picton 65mins), Chow, Robinson.
Subs not used: Cuggy, Chandler
Referee: Mr K Raine