|skilltrainingltd League Division One||328|
|Saturday 21st November 2009||Newcastle Benfield V Whitley Bay||1-3|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley battled back strongly in the second half to take all three points from their local rivals in unpleasant, wet and blustery conditions at Sam Smiths Park. This was the third time the clubs had met this season and following victories in the FA Cup and Northern League Cup, Whitley completed a hat trick of wins to keep the pressure on league leaders Spennymoor, who remain three points clear at the top following their victory at Shildon.With Adam Johnston still suspended and both Chris Fawcett and Craig McFarlane not yet fully recovered from injury, Whitley’s starting line up showed just one change from the side that beat Alsager in the FA Vase, Phil Bell replacing Lee Kerr who had a fitness test shortly before the game and was not risked for the full 90 minutes.
Benfield wasted a great chance to take the lead in the opening minutes when the ball was blazed over the bar from close range. Tom Kindley made two uncharacteristic errors as he appeared to struggle with his foothold early on, but fortunately his miskicks did not prove costly.
Whitley’s first attack saw Chris Moore break quickly down the right and when he was tripped near the corner flag, Richard Hodgson’s free kick into the goalmouth was cleared by the Benfield defence.
Benfield were quick to break from midfield and with the wind in their favour, they were having the majority of the game, but a tremendous run from midfield by Callum Anderson was ended at the expense of a corner as the home defence struggled do deal with his speed and control.
Chris Reid’s throw on the left almost created a chance for Hodgson as the ball ran across the penalty area but Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger was quick to snatch the ball as it ran loose.
Whitley were under severe pressure midway through the half as two shots were cleared off the line, the second being a powerful shot from Michael Chilton that was blocked when a goal seemed almost inevitable. Dean Nicholson then went close for Benfield, taking the ball across the face of goal before firing in a shot that Kindley pushed away to safety. The young Bay keeper, who is competing with Terry Burke for the first team jersey, was being watched by a Sunderland scout after a series of impressive displays this season.
Anderson was causing problems for the Benfield defence and another surging run took him past his marker before his cross found Paul Chow whose header was pushed over the bar by Grainger.
With 34 minutes on the clock, Benfield took the lead when the ball was played in at pace from the right and Stephen Young gave Kindley little chance with a close range header.
The home defence were struggling to deal with Whitley’s speed down both flanks and six minutes before half time, the patience of the referee ended when defender Jeffrey Forsyth was booked for one foul too many on Chris Moore.
Just before the interval, Anderson, who had arguably been Whitley’s most impressive player in the first half, went over on his ankle during an innocent challenge as he was about to embark on another attack down the right wing. He lay in obvious pain and after a lengthy delay he was carried from the field on a stretcher and taken to hospital with what was feared to be a broken ankle. However, it emerged that the injury was not as serious as first thought, with ligament damage the more likely outcome.
Although Whitley had created several scoring opportunities during the first half, they had failed to take them and Benfield were deservedly edging the game at half time.
Ten minutes into the second period, Whitley were denied an equaliser by an offside flag when Bell netted the rebound after Grainger had blocked but not held onto a shot. Whitley were beginning to look more of a threat while Benfield were being kept in check by a solid Bay defence, which now included Darren Timmons who had replaced Anderson.
With 66 minutes gone, Paul Chow was replaced by Lee Kerr, who quickly made an impact. Barely two minutes after coming on, he was well positioned at the back post when Richard Hodgson’s right wing corner was headed down and he crashed a powerful shot into the net off the keeper to level the score. Suddenly Whitley were in control of the game and five minutes later they went in front. Moore’s pace was continuing to make life difficult for the home side and former Bay midfielder Andy Dugdale was booked for a rash challenge about 25 yards out on the right wing. Hodgson’s well flighted free kick was perfectly placed for Phil Bell to send a glancing header beyond Grainger, to the delight of the massed ranks of travelling Bay fans.
Benfield briefly responded but Chilton fired high and wide before a quick break upfield saw Moore chip the ball just over the bar. Eleven minutes from time, Whitley were awarded a penalty when Chris Carr handled the ball as it was played in from the left. Remarkably, Carr has conceded a penalty in each of the three games between the sides this season, and as at Hillheads a few weeks ago, Lee Kerr comfortably beat Grainger from the spot to put Whitley into a comfortable 3-1 lead. Carr meanwhile protested at the penalty decision with a tirade of foul abuse towards the linesman and was promptly sent off.
Whitley were now in complete control while Benfield seemed to lose their composure and in stoppage time, a high tackle on Moore earned frustrated defender Carl Patterson a yellow card while Dugdale was sent off after firing the ball at Moore as he lay on the ground.
In the end this was a well deserved win for Whitley, with Coulson and Ryan dominant at the back, Robinson, Robson and Hodgson all giving maximum effort in midfield, while the pace of Moore and the work rate of Bell contributed in no small part to the frustration of the home defence.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Anderson(Timmons 45mins), Reid, Hodgson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Bell(Picton 84mins), Chow(Kerr 66mins), Robinson
Substitutes not used: Burke, McFarlane
Referee Mr G Johnson