|skilltrainingltd League Division One||204|
|Tuesday 13th January 2009||Whitley Bay V Ashington||2-0|
Match Report By Stephen Tyley
After suffering postponement of their two previous fixtures, due to the icy weather, Whitley returned to action at Hillheads on Tuesday in a re-scheduled league encounter with Ashington. Manager Ian Chandler was keen to give his players match practice prior to their FA Vase tie at Bootle, and was able to field a full-strength team, with the exception of first-choice keeper Terry Burke. Lee Picton made a welcome return to the squad.
Playing conditions were perfect as Whitley kicked off with a light breeze at their backs. Both sides looked lively from the outset, but Whitley's forwards were soon putting pressure on the visitors' goal. After only six minutes, Kerr neatly flicked on a right wing corner to Chow whose pass across goal was netted by Coulson, only for Chow to be adjudged offside. Moore and Fawcett made a succession of telling runs down each wing, and four more corners were won by the Bay in the space of ten minutes. Despite some uncertain handling by the Ashington keeper Hayes, Whitley were unable to convert their chances.
Ashington gradually came more into the game, and found spaces opening up in the Bay defence, but their nimble running and passing was let down by poor finishing. Several efforts ballooned high over the Bay goal, with goalkeeper McLean rarely called into action.
Despite the game being played in a good spirit, two Whitley players picked up two yellow cards in the first half: first Bell for a seemingly innocuous challenge, then McFarlane for tripping an Ashington forward. It was between these two incidents, in the 33rd minute, that Whitley Bay opened their account. A well flighted right wing corner was met at the near side of the six-yard box by Paul Chow, whose glancing header skimmed a defender and flew high over the keeper into the far corner of the net. This was Chow's 8th goal in 12 matches, and his 21st of the season. Whitley continued to have the upper hand, and shortly before half time, the influential McFarlane almost doubled their lead. Collecting the ball within the centre circle, he advanced past three Ashington players before unleashing a tremendous shot which was bound for goal until Hayes did equally well to get down low to his right and turn the ball round the post.
After the interval, Whitley Bay, and Craig McFarlane, quickly picked up from where they had left off. On 47 minutes, McFarlane collected the ball on the left wing, mid-way inside the Ashington half. With a potent mixture of strength and speed, he cut inside to a central position and fired an unstoppable shot which seemed to curve away from Hayes and brush the inside of the side netting, like a perfectly placed penalty, only this was from 25 yards out! Yet another candidate for goal of the season!
Whitley looked comfortable, so Chandler was able to protect his forwards from the risk of injury by bring off Chow and Kerr, while giving substitutes Hogg and Hay a run out for thelast 20 minutes. Ashington did give the home side one scare when a late shot hit the foot of the upright, but Whitley's subs made significant contributions. Three more league points take Whitley up to 4th place in the league. The defence kept a clean sheet, and it was an injury-free evening, so the manager would have felt it well worth the effort to stage this game, though the rather disappointingly low attendance of 204 for a local derby was probably due to the short notice for the fixture.
WHITLEY BAY: McLean, McFarlane, Fawcett, Taylor, Coulson, Bell, Moore, Robinson(Hay), Chow(Hogg), Kerr(Reay), Reid