|Northern League Cup 2nd Round||297|
|Tuesday 3rd November 2009||Whitley Bay V Newcastle Benfield||4-3|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley bounced back from the disappointment of defeat in their last two games with victory at Hillheads in an exciting and thoroughly entertaining cup tie against local rivals Newcastle Benfield.With David Coulson and Richard Hodgson suspended, Craig McFarlane injured and Callum Anderson unavailable, the strength in depth of Ian Chandler’s squad was demonstrated by the fact that players of the calibre of Adam Johnston, Damon Robson and Tom Kindley could not make the starting line up for this League Cup contest.
The game started in the most dramatic style that most fans could ever remember, with four goals coming in the first seven minutes.
The goal rush began in the 3rd minute when a good build up on the left involving Paul Robinson saw the ball crossed to Paul Chow in front of goal and to his great relief he drilled a low shot into the corner of the net for his first goal since early September. The delight of his team mates was obvious as they engulfed him in celebration. However, within a minute Benfield were level when Dean Nicholson rounded off a slick move giving Burke no chance from ten yards.
Straight from the restart Whitley went back on the attack and when Lee Kerr whipped in a cross from the right, Benfield defender Chris Carr handled in an attempt to block the ball. Kerr’s spot kick beat Grainger in the Benfield goal to put Whitley back in front with barely five minutes on the clock. It was the second time this season that Carr had conceded a penalty against Whitley, the previous occasion being in the FA Cup tie back in August, and once again, in a closely contested game it was to prove crucial.
There was hardly time for fans to catch their breath (and for this reporter to make notes of the goals!) before Benfield equalised for the second time. Another rapid move downfield cut through the Bay defence and a great shot from Michael Chilton from about 20 yards out crashed against the base of the post, flew across goal and in at the far post.
Play continued at a frenetic pace and with 13 minutes on the clock, Nicholson chipped the ball over Burke and only just over the bar. Back came Whitley and Chris Moore’s cross from the right was put behind for a corner by Stewart Morris. Both sides were creating chances and after 22 minutes, Chow, looking more confident by the minute, headed just over from Kerr’s free kick; then at the other end Burke did well to push away a dangerous shot. Lee Picton, back in the side for a rare start headed the ball off the line as Benfield threatened again. Grainger kept the visitors on terms with a fine save at full stretch to deny Kerr when Reid’s long throw beat the Benfield defence.
Both wingers were creating openings for Whitley and three minutes before half time Chris Fawcett earned his reward when his curling cross into the crowded goalmouth eluded everyone, including Chow’s head, to put Whitley back in front at the interval.
Four minutes after the break, Chris Reid’s teasing free kick was only inches away from the far post but not surprisingly, goalmouth incidents were less frequent than in the first half with both defences tightening up. A short corner just past the hour mark caught the visitors by surprise and Robinson’s angled shot was punched clear by Grainger. Two minutes later Benfield drew level yet again when Nicholson netted after an earlier shot was blocked but not cleared.
Whitley thought they had retaken the lead just six minutes later when Phil Bell soared above the Benfield defence to head home but the assistant referee raised a flag to indicate a highly dubious foul on the keeper. Bell was penalised on a number of occasions for what seemed to be innocuous challenges when in goal scoring positions.
Time was beginning to run out and the prospect of extra time was looming when substitute Adam Johnston reacted quickly to Chris Moore’s cross from the right and stabbed the ball past Grainger from eight yards out.
The final six minutes plus stoppage time saw Benfield push forward in search of a fourth equaliser but an excellent save low down by Terry Burke together with more assured defending than in the early stages resulted in Whitley progressing to the next round and the League Cup holders going out at the first hurdle in this year’s competition.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Picton(Robson 60mins), Fawcett, Reid, Timmons, Ryan, Moore(Matthewson 90mins), Bell, Kerr, Chow(Johnston 75mins), Robinson.
Subs not used: Kindley, Mark Waite.
Referee: Mr B Gordon