|skilltrainingltd League Division One||322|
|Saturday 27th December 2008||Whitley Bay V West Allotment Celtic||1-3|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley’s seven match winning run was ended by a West Allotment side who are currently enjoying their most successful season in the Northern League. Celtic manager Gary Middleton, who captained Whitley to FA Vase glory in 2002, had three former Bay players in his side and they were all clearly determined to put on a good show in this local derby.
Whitley looked rather subdued in the first half, which was due in part to West Allotment’s game plan which denied clear openings, in marked contrast to the previous two league games where Whitley were able to attack virtually at will.
The visitors went ahead in the 10th minute when Andrew Johnson fired a great 20 yard shot across goal into the top corner of the net, leaving Terry Burke helpless. Whitley retaliated quickly but Mark Taylor’s shot was comfortably saved by keeper Karl Dryden. Ten minutes later, Whitley went close when Fawcett broke through and crossed for Coulson, whose goal bound header was hooked away by former Bay defender Marc Walmsley.
The visitors were a constant threat and a quick break downfield by Allotment ended with Colvin firing over the bar. For Whitley, Chris Moore brought a low save then Phil Bell sent a header over the bar as they battled for an equaliser, but just before the interval, they were rocked when Allotment doubled their lead. The goal came when Vickers drove the ball across the goalmouth and when it was not cleared, Colvin scored from close range near the back post. A minute into stoppage time, Mark Minto, who left Whitley for West Allotment in October, found space 20 yards from goal and fired in a tremendous shot that Terry Burke just managed to palm over the bar. At half time, Whitley were two goals adrift and they needed to turn the game around quickly.
Two substitutions immediately after the break saw Damon Robson and Andy Hay replace Darren Reay and Chris Fawcett, and within seconds, Whitley were back in the game. Straight from the whistle, they earned a right wing corner and Paul Robinson’s cross was half cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Damon Robson drove the ball low into the corner of the net with Dryden rooted to the spot. This rare goal for Robson, just 40 seconds after he came on to the pitch, lifted the Bay players, with the bumper holiday crowd cheering them on and just three minutes later, Moore at last escaped his markers and found space on the wing and crossed for Paul Chow to send a header crashing off the post. Hay then brought a good save from Dryden as Whitley poured forward in search of the equaliser.
The goal would not come and Allotment gradually weathered the storm. Whitley were dealt as blow on the hour when captain David Coulson was injured and could not continue. This forced a reshuffle of the Whitley team with Lee Kerr coming off the bench and Phil Bell moving back into defence. Five minutes later, a well struck free kick from Kerr brought a fine fingertip save from Dryden to deny Whitley an equaliser and from that point on, the visitors gradually regained control.
Only a great save by Burke denied Potts when the Bay keeper pushed the ball onto the post and away from goal, but after 73 minutes, Potts drove a shot across the goalmouth and the ball ended up in the net to leave Whitley two goals down and facing defeat.
Mark Minto was substituted by the visitors soon afterwards and received warm applause from the home crowd as he left the field.
Marshalled by their captain and former Bay defender Steve Locker, the visitors defended resolutely in the closing stages and restricted Whitley to half chances which fell frustratingly just off target. Kerr saw a chip shot pushed wide while a cross from Chow was just too high for Kerr, and then with time running out, Chow’s header from a free kick landed on the roof of the net before Andy Hay drilled a shot just wide of the post.
In the end, Whitley cannot have too many complaints about the result as on the day they were out fought by a good West Allotment side who leapfrogged Whitley into fourth place as a result of their win.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, McFarlane, Reay(Robson 45mins), Coulson(Kerr 60mins), Ryan, Moore, Fawcett(Hay 45mins), Bell, Chow, Robinson