|FA Vase 3rd Round||145|
|Wednesday 17th December 2008||Penrith V Whitley Bay||0-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley are through to the 4th Round of the FA Vase after a tough encounter on a difficult playing surface at Penrith. On a damp Wednesday evening in Cumbria it took a tremendous strike from substitute Darren Reay in extra time to secure Whitley’s place in the last 32 where they face another away game, this time at Liverpool side Bootle.
The Penrith game had been postponed twice and although the pitch was playable the conditions were not conducive to good football.
Terry Burke was back in goal for Whitley, while Paul Chow and Chris Fawcett also returned to the starting line up, with Lee Kerr on the bench.
The early play was encouraging as Whitley twice went close. Firstly Leon Ryan got in a header which was not far off target then Phil Bell sent a glancing header just beyond the back post from Robinson’s left wing corner. The game was being played at a fast and furious pace but neither side seemed able to put more than a couple of passes together. Penrith created a great opportunity on the quarter hour when Michael Reed was put clear on the right but with only Burke to beat he put the ball tamely wide of the far post.
After 20 minutes, Chris Moore’s cross was pushed behind by Penrith keeper James Holland and from the resultant corner, Ryan headed just wide of goal. Shortly afterwards, Paul Chow dispossessed central defender Wayne Robertson and was clear on goal but he curled a 20 yard shot just past the post. Penrith were well organised at the back, defending strongly and they gave Chris Moore in particular very little space in which to operate.
The game gradually deteriorated into a rather scrappy affair with neither keeper having much to do as passes went astray with frustrating regularity. However, Whitley had created the better of the early chances and at the interval looked slightly the better side.
After the break, Penrith stepped up the pace of the game and looked more dangerous. Just five minutes had been played when Dan Robinson was through on goal but fired over the bar when he should at least have tested Burke. For Whitley, Paul Robinson provided the corner from which Ryan volleyed wide. Just past the hour, Kerr was brought on in place of Robinson, but four minutes later it was Chris Fawcett who caught the eye as he raced from inside his own half before bringing a good save from Holland with a rare shot on target.
Penrith were having more of the ball and while they struggled to find a way through the solid looking Bay defence, the feeling began to grow that if a goal was to come, it would be the home side that would get it. Three minutes from the end of the 90 minutes, there was a brief scare for Whitley when a Penrith attack saw Terry Burke make a close range save but it came as little surprise when the game went into extra time.
Gradually, Whitley came more into the game again while Penrith were being punished for some strong challenges, with several yellow cards being handed out. Some of the home fans became restless, with the officials coming in for some unjustifiably harsh comments.
The decisive moment of the game came eleven minutes into extra time, when Whitley substitute Darren Reay collected the ball some 30 yards from goal, advanced a few steps and rifled in a tremendous swerving shot that flew past Holland into the net, a goal worthy of winning any game.
Penrith’s Graham Anthony showed a lack of discipline two minutes later with a bad tackle on Chris Fawcett and was sent off by the referee. This decision led to anger on the Penrith bench and their manager appeared to be shown a red card too.
A goal ahead and with a one man advantage, Whitley took control of proceedings and with Penrith having to push forward, more spaces appeared at the back and both Damon Robson and Chris Moore went close to increasing the lead.
In the end, one goal proved enough and while the game was far from a classic, every one of the Whitley players deserved credit for battling hard against tough opponents to secure the team’s place in the next round.
Penrith are a strong side on home territory and this was the first time this season that they had failed to score at their Southend Road ground.
While a few of the home supporters were still complaining at the final whistle, the sizeable contingent of Bay fans who made the trip were in good spirits as they set off on the two hour journey back home.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, McFarlane(Hogg 84mins), Robson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Fawcett, Bell, Chow(Reay 81mins), Robinson(Kerr 62mins)