|skilltrainingltd League Division One||241|
|Tuesday 26th January 2010||Dunston UTS V Whitley Bay||3-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
For almost an hour of this game Whitley looked to be in control and when Adam Johnston headed home the second goal just after half time it appeared that three valuable points were in the bag. The final 30 minutes saw a complete turnaround as Dunston took a firm grip in midfield and scored three times, the winning goal coming deep into stoppage time.
On a pudding of a pitch both sides produced entertaining football with four of the goals being of the highest quality. Unfortunately the referee’s performance failed to match that of the players as he seemed determined to steal the show with what was one of the most abject and inconsistent displays for years by an official at a Whitley game.
In front of an excellent away following, Whitley kicked off and soon had their fans cheering, when with just five minutes on the clock, Paul Chow collected the ball near the half way line and as the Dunston defence back pedalled, ran through on goal before firing a tremendous shot into the top corner of the net. This was just the start Whitley had wanted and they kept up the pressure with Chris Fawcett making several breaks down the left wing. On more than one occasion he was stopped by extremely robust challenges notably from Michael Robson, who remarkably escaped any punishment from the referee. An excellent move by Whitley ended with Paul Robinson drilling the ball towards the bottom corner of the net but Connell made a fine diving save to push the ball round the post.
The first real effort on target by Dunston came midway through the half when Michael Laws shot straight at Tom Kindley. Whitley very nearly increased their lead a minute later when Chris Moore went past Robson before crossing the ball low to the near post where Lee Kerr’s close range shot went just the wrong side of the post with Connell stranded. Whitley were well on top and Chow crashed a shot off the bar after more good play had cut through the home defence. Ten minutes before half time Whitley were forced into a change when Kerr picked up a calf injury and hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Adam Johnston.
Dunston came more into the game in the closing stages of the half and Fergal Harkin should have done better when in the clear on the right edge of the Bay penalty area but he failed to trouble Kindley. The young Bay keeper was in difficulty a minute before the break when he suffered a knock on his hip and needed treatment before he could continue.
Straight from the restart, Dunston went on the attack and Galbraith brought a good save from Kindley. Play quickly swung to the other end with Richard Hodgson putting Chow clear out on the right. His perfectly weighted cross into the goalmouth was headed home at the back post by Johnston to put Whitley two up and seemingly on their way to victory. After Andrew Bulford had retaliated for the home side with a shot just off target, Chris Moore became another victim of a wild challenge when he was scythed down in full flight by Smith. Again the referee failed to take command of the situation, his leniency seeming to encourage more very physical play that went unpunished while he penalised players on both sides for what looked to be innocuous challenges.
Just before the hour mark, Dunston battled their way back into the game with a close range effort from Chris Laws after the Bay defence had failed to clear the ball.
This brought life back into the home side but initially Whitley held their own and looked capable of regaining their two goal advantage. However, a tactical change seemed to upset the balance of the midfield, as Hodgson and Robson were replaced by Bell and McFarlane.
Another baffling piece of officiating led to Dunston’s equaliser when reasonable claims for a foul during a Whitley attack were ignored and seconds later the home side broke from defence to attack and were gifted a free kick for reasons that seemed a mystery. When the kick was floated into the goalmouth, the ball was knocked clear but it was quickly played out to Harkin on the right edge of the area and his first time strike flew into the net giving Kindley no chance. It was a perfectly struck shot and with 14 minutes still to go the game was now wide open. Whitley were up against it but kept battling away and Robinson’s 20 yards shot was spilled by Connell but with no one on hand to take advantage, the keeper managed to recover and gather the ball.
The referee was beginning to lose control of the game and now, having allowed far too many physical challenges, he penalised Dunston players almost at will, brandishing yellow cards every few minutes, to the extent that seven of the home side were cautioned when with firmer control earlier in the game most of these bookings would have been avoided.
A worrying moment came late on when Craig McFarlane, still recovering from his lengthy injury and on as a substitute, took a crunching tackle and appeared to be in trouble. However, he managed to complete the game and did not appear to suffer any lasting damage.
It looked as if the game would end all square but in the third minute of stoppage time, a last gasp attack by Dunston saw the ball whipped in from the right and Calvin Smith drilled the ball high beyond Kindley into the top corner of the net to the delight of the home fans, but leaving Whitley wondering how they had failed to hold on to what had seemed a winning position.
With Spennymoor winning 1-0 at third placed Ashington, only time will tell how costly Whitley’s failure to hold on to their lead will prove to be.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Timmons, Fawcett, Hodgson(McFarlane 73mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson(Bell) 73mins), Chow, Kerr(Johnston 34mins), Robinson
Subs not used: Anderson, Picton
Referee: M McDonough