|Northern League Cup 3rd Round||142|
|Tuesday 10th February 2009||Whitley Bay V Whickham||5-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley eventually won this cup tie comfortably but in the first ever game between the two clubs, Second Division Whickham gave a good account of themselves and will justifiably feel that the final score did not reflect the part they played in an entertaining game.
Whitley fielded a near full strength side, the most notable absentees from the starting line up being Mark Taylor, Terry Burke and Paul Robinson. Damon Robson and David Coulson both returned following injury, while Rob McLean was in goal.
The pitch had been declared playable at 4.30pm but by kick off the temperature had dropped and was close to freezing.
Whitley set off at a brisk pace and were soon on the attack. Early on Lee Kerr tried his luck with a long range effort that whistled past the post then with barely seven minutes played, Chris Fawcett crossed from the left and the ball was played on by Chow into the path of Kerr who struck a perfect low shot first time into the corner of the net, leaving Whickham keeper Peter Adnett rooted to the spot.
This was just the start that Whitley needed but to their credit the visitors did not let their heads drop. They forced Whitley back in defence and won a series of corners without seriously testing McLean until the 16th minute when the reserve Bay keeper rushed out of his area attempting to clear a long through ball. He caught and brought down a Whickham player and was booked but he had not denied a clear chance on goal so to Whitley’s relief, he was allowed to remain on the pitch.
The game was being evenly contested and it was clear to see why Whickham were among the Second Division front runners.
The difference between the sides lay in their finishing, and with 33 minutes on the clock, Whitley extended their lead when Lee Picton was left unmarked in the six yard box and when Adnett failed to claim the ball from Lee Kerr’s right wing corner, Picton headed home his first competitive goal of the season. Still Whickham battled away and McLean had to punch the ball away after they forced another corner.
Right on half time, the visitors were dealt a crucial blow when from Kerr’s free kick out on the right, Picton again rose above the Whickham defence to head home his second and Whitley’s third goal of the night. To be three down at the interval after contributing so much was tough on the Second Division side but it gave Whitley the cushion they needed and they were able to relax in the second half knowing that the game was in the bag. Having got through 45 minutes on his return from injury, Damon Robson gave way to Paul Robinson after the interval.
Whitley began to dominate play and after 55 minutes Moore’s cross into the box reached Fawcett whose shot skimmed the top of the bar with Adnett struggling to reach the ball. Four minutes later Whickham defender Josh Watson felled David Coulson with a very clumsy tackle that left the Bay captain injured and out of the game. Watson was, perhaps harshly, shown a straight red card leaving Whickham to play out the last half hour with ten men. Chris Reid replaced Coulson in the Bay defence and a few minutes later, Chris Bone, back in the squad after a period working abroad, also came off the bench. Picton went close to completing his first ever hat trick but just failed to get his head to the ball when well placed in front of goal.
Adam McLane showed Whickham’s spirit with a shot that only just cleared the bar but in general it was Whitley who were dominating possession. Chow headed just over from McFarlane’s cross but with 13 minutes left, Bay’s top scorer finally got the goal he deserved. It followed a goalmouth scramble after a scissor kick from Kerr was not properly cleared and Chow rammed the ball home to make it 4-0. He might have added another when a shot hit the bar, bounced up and as he waited to put the ball into an unguarded net, it hit the top of the bar again and went out of play. Moore then hit the post with a close range effort after being put through by Chow but with just one minute left, McFarlane’s cross left Chow with a simple tap in for Whitley’s fifth goal.
Then with almost the last kick of the game, Whickham got a goal that no one could begrudge them, when substitute Graham King curled a great shot beyond McLean into the top corner of the net.
In the end this was a valuable work out for Whitley and a good warm up for the Vase game against Stratford. Lee Picton played a key part in the victory, showing that Whitley have yet another source of goals, getting his first double for the club.
Both sides coped well in the increasingly tricky conditions and the result puts Whitley into the last eight of the League Cup, now renamed in memory of the former League sponsor, Brooks Mileson; so if all goes well at the weekend, Whitley will have two cup quarter finals to look forward to in the weeks ahead.
WHITLEY BAY: McLean, McFarlane, Picton, Robson(Robinson 45mins), Coulson(Reid 59mins), Ryan, Moore, Chow, Bell(Bone 67mins), Kerr, Fawcett