|FA Vase 2nd Round||606|
|Saturday 14th November 2009||Whitley Bay V Alsager Town||2-0|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley safely cleared the first hurdle in their defence of the FA Vase but visitors Alsager Town made them work hard for their victory, with both goals coming in the last ten minutes.Up until that stage, Whitley had battled away but despite having the lion’s share of the game could not break down a determined defence in which keeper Mike Langley was outstanding.
With Adam Johnston suspended, Chris Fawcett injured in the midweek game against Norton and Craig McFarlane not yet fit to return, Ian Chandler was forced to make changes, with Chris Moore and Damon Robson returning to the starting line up. Alsager made a late change to their side when striker Dean Williams was injured in the pre match warm up.
Before kick off Whitley were presented with a miniature replica of the FA Vase from the Football Association, Chairman Paul McIlduff and Manager Ian Chandler receiving the award on the pitch.
The Cheshire side, who went into the game as massive underdogs looked determined to put Whitley off of their stride and a tentative start so nearly proved costly when in the fifth minute, Steven Warburton had a glorious chance to put the visitors ahead but completely miskicked the ball in front of goal with only Tom Kindley to beat.
Play quickly switched to the other end and when Chris Moore gained possession, he took the ball up the right wing before sending a dangerous low cross ahead of the Alsager defence into the goalmouth. Paul Chow and Richard Hodgson both tried desperately to get a foot to the ball but could not make contact and collided with the keeper, who required attention before he could resume. Hodgson also appeared to take a knock but was able to continue.
When Paul Robinson was fouled about 25 yards out Lee Kerr’s free kick was pushed wide by Langley but then three minutes later the Cheshire side spurned another good opportunity when Tulloch headed straight at Kindley from a right wing cross.
Shortly afterwards, Whitley had a goal ruled out after Chris Reid had taken the ball down the left touch line, cut it back across goal where Paul Robinson rifled a shot into the net from ten yards. However, play was taken back and a throw in awarded as the assistant referee ruled that the ball had gone out of play as Reid was bringing it forward.
Whitley were beginning to get on top now and only a fine defensive header by Sean Came, who had an outstanding game for the North West Counties side, denied Paul Chow a header on goal after Moore and Ryan had set up the chance. Damon Robson, who worked hard throughout, fired a low shot wide of goal after he was played in by Moore. Callum Anderson was next to push forward and he brought another good save from Langley, the keeper palming his dangerous cross away from Chow. Two minutes later Langley saved his side again when Kerr’s header looked as if it would creep in at the post after Coulson had nodded the ball forward. Chris Reid then got a header on target but it lacked power and the keeper gathered the ball comfortably.
Alsager briefly responded with Jones testing Kindley with a shot that the young Bay keeper pushed away from danger. A long clearance by the visitors almost caught out the Whitley defence but great work by Coulson averted danger when Tulloch broke clear only for the Whitley captain to race back and win the ball with a timely tackle.
Just before the interval Whitley forced a series of four corners in quick succession but determined defending kept them out and the sides went in all square at the break.
After a rather quiet start to the second half, Whitley created the first opening when Chow’s header from Moore’s cross was pushed over the bar by Langley at full stretch.
Just past the hour, Chow was replaced by Phil Bell as Ian Chandler looked for ways of breaking down the Alsager defence. Langley was in the thick of the action again when he pushed a header from Leon Ryan past the upright following a Hodgson free kick. That was just about the last action of the game from Hodgson, who had been struggling to make his usual impact ever since picking up an ankle injury in the early stages of the game. Midway through the half he was replaced by Darren Timmons, who quickly made an impact with an excellent through ball down the right for Chris Moore who fully tested Langley with a fine shot that the keeper just got his fingers to and pushed round the post.
Whitley were forcing the pace but with time beginning to run out, it seemed as if every challenge was bringing an injury to the Alsager team and play was repeatedly being held up. The visitors were certainly tiring but there was an increasing air of nervousness among the large crowd whenever the ball was played upfield, with fans fearing a breakaway goal.
Nine minutes from time, another excellent run by the ever impressive Callum Anderson took him past at least three opponents but when he went down, the referee awarded Whitley a free kick some 25 yards from goal on the left of centre. Lee Kerr’s low shot flew through the packed penalty area and straight through Langley’s hands into the net. The goal was no more than Whitley deserved but it was cruel on the keeper who until this point had given a near faultless performance.
Rather than slowing play down, Alsager now had to step up a gear but, with apologies for the pun, the team sponsored by Calor, had run out of gas and their heads dropped. The first goal, as Ian Chandler said after the match, was always going to be vital, and there was the feeling that if it came to Whitley, then more goals would soon follow.
This proved to be the case as Whitley kept up the pressure and from a corner by Kerr, Coulson headed the ball onto the underside of the bar. It rebounded onto the line and back up, where Phil Bell headed it into the back of the net to put the result beyond any doubt.
The crowd of 606 fans were now in jubilant mood as Whitley played out the remaining minutes with ease to claim their place in the 3rd Round of the competition along with the £1200 prize money.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Anderson, Reid(Picton 88mins), Hodgson(Timmons 68mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Kerr, Chow(Bell 62mins), Robinson.
Substitutes not used: Burke, McFarlane
Referee Mr W Broadbent