|skilltrainingltd League Division One||408|
|Saturday 12th December 2009||Whitley Bay V Esh Winning||5-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley extended their winning run to seven games with a convincing victory over in-form Esh Winning. The County Durham side arrived at Hillheads having won five of their previous six games but although they started both halves brightly they were eventually overwhelmed by a rampant Bay side who created numerous chances and might well have doubled their goal tally.
The game got underway in perfect calm conditions with the ground bathed in winter sunshine although the pitch was beginning to show signs of wear and tear from regular use during the wet weather of recent weeks.Esh were quickly on the attack and it took a great save from Tom Kindley to keep out a close range shot from Jamie Dawson inside the first minute. The game was being played at a lively pace and Whitley were soon pressing forward, stretching the Esh defence with attacks down both wings. Six minutes into the game, Chris Moore outpaced his marker and crossed the ball from the right and Phil Bell’s looping header rebounded off the bar with keeper Andrew Spence beaten. Three minutes later, Damon Robson’s cross from the right was hooked to safety over his own bar by Esh defender Kieran Megran. It was all Whitley at this stage and a minute later, Kerr’s ball to the back post found Leon Ryan unmarked but his effort from a tight angle flew just over the bar. Seconds later, Paul Robinson played the ball wide to Chris Fawcett on the left who tested Spence with a long range shot.
When Esh tried to relieve the pressure with the occasional breakaway downfield Craig Coates and Jamie Dawson both looked dangerous but they struggled to get past Whitley’s solid back three of Darren Timmons, David Coulson and Leon Ryan.
Whitley’s pressure paid off with 20 minutes on the clock when Fawcett rode a challenge before cutting the ball back across the face of goal from near the by-line. The cross beat the Esh defence and Robinson slotted the ball home from near to the back post, his shot taking a deflection off Esh defender Stephen Banks. Almost from the restart Whitley might have doubled their lead when Robson played in Bell but his shot was blocked at the expense of a corner. Four minutes later they did get their second goal and it came when Lee Kerr found space some 25 yards out and drilled a great shot past the helpless Spence.
Chris Moore was next to capitalise on slack defending when he cut in from the right and fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net with Spence rooted to the spot. Three goals in the space of six minutes looked to have won the game for Whitley and with Esh in disarray more goals seemed inevitable. However, after a blistering half hour when their football was a joy to watch, Whitley seemed to ease off but still looked comfortably in control. The visitors were thrown a glimmer of hope seven minutes from half time when Leon Ryan was penalised for handball after his arm was raised when a cross came in from the wing. The referee awarded a penalty and although Kindley got his hand to the shot, Craig Coates’ spot kick had sufficient power to beat the Bay keeper to leave the score 3-1 at the interval.
Just as they had at the beginning of the game, Esh attacked right from the whistle at the start of the second half but this time Kindley was unable to prevent Dawson’s volley bouncing over his head into the roof of the net. Suddenly the game was wide open again and briefly Whitley faltered, but they soon responded as firstly Kerr saw a shot blocked then Fawcett crashed a shot off the base of the post and when Kerr followed up and looked certain to score, his close range effort was deflected over the bar off a defender. Whitley were in full flight again and moments later Spence could only parry another shot and Kerr blazed the loose ball over the bar. Ryan then forced a good save from Spence, who at full stretch pushed a header over the bar.
Midway through the half, Whitley got the fourth goal that they had been battling for when Bell burst through and saw his shot blocked by the keeper. He reacted quickly and was first to the loose ball, firing into the net from close range. The goal ended any hopes that Esh may have had and Whitley were well on top. Substitute Paul Chow seized on dithering by the visiting defence to rob them of the ball and add the fifth goal with 11 minutes remaining.
More opportunities came in the closing stages and with a little luck Whitley might have added further goals as a tiring Esh defence came under more pressure.
This was a comprehensive and thoroughly entertaining victory with everyone playing their part and providing plenty of festive cheer for the fans in Whitley’s last home game before Christmas. Lee Kerr, who partnered Phil Bell in attack for the first hour had an excellent game as did Damon Robson, who might have got on the score sheet himself with a little more luck. Bell again worked hard and troubled the Esh defence throughout the game. With Callum Anderson back in the starting line up, the absence of the unavailable Richard Hodgson was hardly noticed. Goals are coming from almost every player at the moment, with five different scorers on this occasion. Adam Johnston, who has 12 league goals to his credit, is now available after completing his suspension, giving Ian Chandler even more attacking options for the game against Bishop Auckland on Saturday.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Timmons, Fawcett(Picton 66mins), Anderson(Reid 52mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Bell, Kerr, Robinson(Chow 63mins)
Substitutes not used: Cuggy, Chandler
Referee: Mr S Sharp