|FA Vase 4th Round||906|
|Saturday 16th January 2010||Whitley Bay V Poole Town||3-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
The dream of a return to Wembley in May is still alive after Whitley overcame Wessex League champions Poole Town in a pulsating cup tie at Hillheads on Saturday.
This was Whitley’s first game in five weeks and it so nearly went the way of the previous four games, all of which were called off due to the wintry weather. Although the pitch passed a precautionary inspection on Thursday, a bad weather forecast on Friday gave club officials a sleepless night as heavy rain threatened to force yet another postponement. However the hard work of groundsman Dave Styles paid off as the water drained from the surface and the pitch, though heavy, was perfectly playable by 3pm. Fears that it would cut up badly proved unfounded and it held up remarkably well throughout the 90 minutes.
The game was quite rightly billed as match of the round with two of the favourites for the Vase coming face to face, and with few other games surviving the weather Whitley were rewarded with a bumper crowd of more than 900. They were given full value for money as both sides produced attacking football of a very good quality.
Whitley were first to impress after just three minutes when Chris Moore drilled a low shot across goal and only inches wide of the far post. At the other end, Poole responded with Carl Preston crossing from the right but misdirecting the ball which landed on the roof of the net.
Just past the quarter hour mark, Moore, who had the beating of his marker on the right wing, sent over a cross that Robinson just reached, getting the faintest touch with his head, but keeper Nic Jones pushed the ball round the post. Moore again got past his man on the wing and fired in a swerving shot that Jones saved well. Moments later, Leon Ryan was just off target after Fawcett’s throw had been headed on by Bell.
Whitley were creating more openings but Poole looked dangerous and with 24 minutes played they nearly made the breakthrough. Stuart Brown burst clear on goal when a high ball was not cut out and when Tom Kindley raced off his line to clear the ball, Brown tumbled to the ground and the visitors appealed for a penalty. However, the referee was not impressed and promptly booked Brown for diving.
There was little to choose between the sides at this stage but Whitley got the crucial opening goal just past the half hour when Moore’s shot was handled by Poole captain Carl Poore. The referee immediately awarded a penalty and Lee Kerr sent Jones the wrong way from the spot. Two minutes later, Poole wasted a glorious chance to level the score when Aaron Skelton scooped the ball over the bar from close range.
The chances kept coming at either end and maybe the lack of match practice in recent weeks was the reason why both sides failed to convert the opportunities that came their way. No one could be faulted though when Moore again crossed from the right and the onrushing Phil Bell raced in to meet the ball only for Jones to produce a great save with his legs. A second goal for Whitley at this stage might have put the game beyond the Dorset side and the visitors must have breathed a sigh of relief when just before the interval, Fawcett’s cross from the left was met by Hodgson who fired inches over the bar. There was still time for Skelton to put the ball wide of as gaping goal as play swung back to the other end but at the half time whistle Kerr’s penalty was all that separated the sides.
The first action of the second half came when Robinson played an excellent ball to Kerr who went round a defender and closed in on goal but played the ball slightly too far in front of him and Jones was able to gather the ball at his feet.
Hodgson and Robinson had, especially in the first half, been extremely influential in midfield, setting up numerous attacks and it was Whitley’s midfield strength that was giving then the edge.
A fantastic game yesterday, great footballing day out for all concerned, I'd even say Poole will have enjoyed their efforts to a degree.
906 fans, heavy pitch, which actually was fantastic especially after all the snow and then rain, you'd hardly think we'd played afterwards. Great effort from Dave Styles, assisted by Collin Philips.
We were certainly a little rusty after 6 weeks without a game, but still played some excellent football, as did Poole, they were very organized and committed.
We could and should have been 3/4 goals up at half time, mind you Poole missed a great chance early on, and had a penalty shout waved away when their centre forward was clean through but seemed to lose his footing which resulted in a booking for said player.
We pushed on after that incident and were rewarded with a penalty ourselves after 30 minutes, which in truth should have seen their captain sent off for hand ball, I thought the rules were if you handle (save) the ball in the box it was an automatic red card but i must be mistaken as the referee only issued a yellow. Lee Kerr tucked the spot kick away comfortably.
Second half we again created several good chances but heir keeper denied us each time, then up popped Damon Robson who doesn't really score that many, i think it was his second in 5 years, or seemed like 5 years, but he volleyed home from the edge of the box like proven goal scorer, he also rattled the cross bar with 5 minutes remaining.
Having had a few chances and finally got the second I thought we'd push on and finish them off, but credit to Poole who I thought posed a threat to us all day they bounced back and if not for our keeper, young Tom kindly who made 2 excellent saves we could have been back to 2-2, as it happened Poole got their penalty and made it 2-1 with 15 minutes to go.
Later stages got a little heated resulting in Callum Anderson being sent of for a robust challenge, which should have only been a yellow, but the reaction of some of the Poole players exaggerated the tackle and the ref showed a straight red.
Final word went to Paul Chow who had been excellent for the 30 minutes he came on for, rounding the keeper and firing home to make it 3-1, great goal, great occasion and great result.
Very happy to have got past Poole.
Poole kept pushing forward in search of an equaliser but Whitley held firm. Late on, with just two minutes left on the clock, Callum Anderson, Whitley’s third sub, made a rash challenge and following discussion with his assistant, the referee showed a red card to the Bay youngster. This set up a tense last few minutes but with the game in stoppage time, Poole succumbed to a counter attack when Chow was played clear on goal. He calmly rounded the keeper before sliding the ball into the net to send the vast majority of the crowd ecstatic with delight.
A sporting touch at the final whistle was provided by Poole’s keeper and their man of the match Nic Jones, who turned round to shake the hands of Whitley fans behind his goal, a generous gesture that would surely not be seen at a higher level of the game.
A performance like this against one of the best sides in the competition must give players and fans the belief that Whitley are in with a real chance of going all the way to Wembley again this year. None of the other sides in the last sixteen of the competition will relish the prospect of facing Whitley, especially at Hillheads.
Every member of the side played their part in what was an outstanding team performance but most people’s choice for man of the match would be Chris Moore, who was a constant thorn in the side of the Poole defence, even when they used three men to try and stifle him.
WHITLEY BAY; Kindley, Timmons, Fawcett, Hodgson(Anderson 60mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Bell(Chow 55mins), Kerr, Robinson(Johnston 71mins)
Substitutes not used: Crook, Picton
Referee: Mr S Smith