|skilltrainingltd League Division One||306|
|Saturday 3rd January 2009||South Shields V Whitley Bay||0-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley made a winning start to the New Year with a hard earned victory at South Shields on Saturday. As in the game at Hillheads back in September, there was only one goal in it and despite their precarious position in the league, Shields do not look a bad side. Perhaps their main problem is a lack of potency in attack. Certainly, Terry Burke in the Bay goal was not overworked, in marked contrast to the Mariners’ keeper and captain Andy Clark, who was kept busy throughout.
With Mark Taylor suspended, Chris Reid returned in defence, while Lee Kerr and Andy Hay started in place of Paul Robinson and Phil Bell, who were both on the bench.
The home side are one of the better supported teams in the league and with a large Bay following there was a good sized crowd in Filtrona Park despite the bitterly cold weather.
There was little to choose between the sides in the early exchanges but after 11 minutes, Chris Feasey seized on a misplaced pass and drove a good looking shot across goal but beyond the far post. Ellison then fired in a shot that Burke did well to push round the post.
Three minutes later, a neat chip over the home defence by Lee Kerr seemed to catch Paul Chow by surprise and although clear on goal, his half hit shot was easily saved by Clark. Kerr was having a good game playing in midfield behind the two strikers, spreading the ball around effectively and working hard. When Damon Robson crossed from the left, Andy Hay put pressure on Clark but the keeper eventually gathered the ball at the second attempt.
The only goal of the game in the 34th minute when a great through ball from Kerr found Chow on the edge of the box. Whitley’s leading scorer controlled the ball before hitting it across Clark towards the far corner of the goal. The keeper dived and got his fingers to the ball but there was too much power in the shot and he could only watch as it rolled across the line into the corner of the net.
South Shields were working hard and having their fair share of possession but to little effect as the final ball was being cut out by a solid looking, well organised Whitley rearguard. Both sides were being frustrated by a series of questionable refereeing decisions which at times disrupted the flow of the game.
Whitley were deservedly ahead at half time and they might have increased their lead seven minutes into the second half when a short back pass was inadvertently picked up by Clark on the edge of his six yard box. The home side packed their goalmouth ahead of the indirect free kick that resulted, and eventually managed to scramble the ball away from danger.
A foul just outside the Shields penalty area gave Chris Reid the opportunity to extend the lead but his well struck shot was excellently pushed round the post by Clark. Whitley were getting on top now and three minutes later, substitute Phil Bell struck a great first time effort from Fawcett’s left wing cross but the ball hit the underside of the bar and was knocked out of play by the home defence. Next to try his luck was Chris Moore who cut in from the right but shot over the bar when he should have done better.
Without the cushion of a second goal there was always the danger that the Mariners might break away and snatch an equaliser. With 12 minutes to go, that almost happened but Burke, who had been a virtual spectator for much of the game, made an outstanding save, pushing a shot from Adamson over the bar.
Four minutes from time, Paul Robinson, on the field for the last 15 minutes of the game, broke clear on goal but hesitated and was closed down by defenders before chipping the ball wide of goal from 12 yards.
In the end, Chow’s 20th goal of the season proved sufficient as Whitley ran out deserved winners and moved back up to 5th place in what is developing into an increasingly close title race, with at least eight sides in contention for the championship.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Reid, McFarlane, Robson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Chow(Robinson 73mins), Kerr, Hay(Bell 60mins), Fawcett(Hogg 81mins)