|FA Vase 4th Round||272|
|Saturday 17th January 2009||Bootle V Whitley Bay||1-3|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley overcame their opponents and the atrocious conditions on Merseyside on Saturday to earn their place in the 5th Round of the FA Vase. Within sight of the grandstand at the famous Aintree Grand National course, Whitley had to negotiate their own tough hurdle in the form of a Bootle side riding high in the North West Counties League Division One, not to mention an extremely muddy pitch. One look at the state of the ground was enough for manager Ian Chandler to review his game plan and change his starting line up. Heavy rain had not helped but this was surely one of the worst playing surfaces that Whitley have encountered in recent years.
Not surprisingly, it took some time for the players to adjust to the conditions and there was very little action of note in the opening half hour. The home side were having more of the possession with Andy Fowler looking a threat in attack but neither side created any clear cut chances. The ball was bobbling on the surface and it was difficult for players to judge how it would bounce on the increasingly muddy pitch. Midway through the half the game burst into life when a nasty two footed challenge on Craig McFarlane resulted in Bootle defender Carl Dale being sent off, leaving the home side to play more than an hour with only ten men.
Just past the half hour, Fowler raced away down the right but was stopped in his tracks by a well timed tackle from Mark Taylor. A few minutes later, Lee Kerr set Chris Fawcett away down the left wing but his first time effort was well wide of goal. Phil Bell then fired the ball over the bar from a left wing corner and a few minutes before the interval, Bell’s header from Chris Moore’s cross went over the bar. Whitley were coming more into the game now and just seconds before the half time whistle, Bootle keeper Mark Mawdsley was called into action to save a low shot from Paul Chow.
The second half got underway in dramatic style when inside the first minute, Whitley conceded a penalty. Leon Ryan was judged to have tripped Fowler as he raced into the penalty area and the Bootle striker stepped up to beat Terry Burke with the spot kick to put the Liverpool side ahead.
The goal stirred the home crowd and Bootle pressed forward with greater confidence. Five minutes later, Jamie Rainsford put a shot wide of the post then at the other end, Chow headed over from Moore’s cross. The rain that had been forecast was now pouring down and the strengthening wind was adding to the problems for both sets of players and also for the fans, with very limited covered accommodation in the ground.
Despite facing the wind, the home side might have added a second goal after 58 minutes when Fowler again showed his pace to good effect, being put clear on goal only to slide his shot inches wide of the post. A goal at this stage would have put a different complexion on the game but just past the hour mark, Ian Chandler brought on Paul Robinson and Chris Reid in what proved to be a tactical master stroke. With only his second touch of the ball, Robinson whipped in a dangerous looking cross towards the back post from 20 yards out. In the strong wind, the keeper was deceived by the flight of the ball and to the delight of the Whitley fans behind the goal, the ball dipped under the bar into the top corner of the net. With the scores level, and the home side beginning to tire, Whitley gradually gained the upper hand. Lee Picton had now replaced Bruce Hogg and all three Whitley substitutes were playing their part, with Robinson taking control in midfield. Lee Kerr was putting in a great effort, tracking back to help out when needed while Paul Chow gave maximum effort throughout.
The possibility of extra time was beginning to loom and with the weather conditions steadily deteriorating, that was a prospect that neither side would have relished, not to mention the fans. Ten minutes from time, Lee Picton played a crucial part in the game with a trademark long throw to the edge of the penalty area. It was then nodded backwards to David Coulson who in turn headed it on into the goalmouth where Paul Chow was first to react, stabbing the ball across the line from close range. This was his 22nd goal of the season and how important it proved to be!
With Whitley in front, Bootle's ten men battled away bravely in search of an equaliser but could make little impression on a resolute Bay defence. With the game two minutes into stoppage time, desperation proved to be the Merseysiders’ downfall when in a last ditch effort to launch the ball upfield, keeper Mawdsley lost concentration, picked up a back pass 12 yards out and Whitley were awarded an indirect free kick. Lee Kerr rolled the ball into the path of Chris Reid who smashed it into the net through a crowd of defenders. Moments later the referee blew the final whistle and the large band of Whitley fans who had made the trip to Liverpool were celebrating victory.
After a second half performance such as this, when every member of the team played their part, it would be difficult to single out a man of the match but in the eyes of many Bay fans, that accolade should go to manager Ian Chandler for his inspired substitutions, each of whom scored or set up the Whitley goals.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, McFarlane, Bell, Coulson, Ryan, Moore(Robinson 62mins),Fawcett(Reid 62mins), Chow, Kerr, Hogg(Picton 69mins)