|Arngrove Northern League Division One||152|
|Tuesday 29th January 2008||Durham City V Whitley Bay||2-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
To hold the league leaders to a draw on their own ground would normally be considered a good result but such is the confidence and form of the Bay side at present that there was disappointment after their failure to pick up all three points at Durham on Tuesday evening. Having held a 2-0 interval lead, there was a distinct feeling that they had allowed two points to slip from their grasp.
Lee Kerr’s well publicised unavailability due to work commitments meant that Paul Chow, rested against Ashington on Saturday, returned up front, while David Coulson, Paul Robinson and Damon Robson were all in the starting line up.
Playing into a stiff breeze, Whitley looked lively from the start and they caught the City defence napping with a goal inside seven minutes. When the ball was played beyond the home defence, Dean Douglas chased what looked like a lost cause but he caught the ball on the by line and cut it back across the six yard box where Chris Moore pounced to fire a shot across keeper John Mohan into the bottom corner of the net. Boosted by this perfect start, Whitley kept up the pressure and three minutes later Paul Chow saw a shot pushed over the bar by Mohan.
In City’s first real effort on goal, Capper blazed a shot high over the bar. Three minutes later the home side had the ball in the Bay net but only after an offside flag had been raised. Durham were pushing forward with the wind at their backs but were struggling to get shots on target. Johnston fired over the bar when well placed then when the dangerous and pacy Toft crossed from the right, Richardson headed over.
With 39 minutes gone, Douglas ran on to a through ball from Robinson and put it into the net but the goal was ruled offside. Douglas was proving a real handful for the City defence and three minutes before the break he raced in from the right and drove a low shot towards goal. Somewhat fortuitously Paul Chow deflected the shot with his body into the near corner of the goal, leaving Mohan wrong footed.
With a two goal cushion, it was looking good for Whitley and it almost got even better within seconds of the restart. The dangerous Douglas, who had set up both first half goals, nearly got on the score sheet himself with a tremendous overhead kick that left Mohan helpless as the ball crashed off the cross bar. Had it gone in, a three goal deficit would probably have been too much for City to make up but the escape seemed to spur on the league leaders and within minutes, an attempted clearance by Whitley rebounded off a defender and Richardson shot wide of goal when he should at least have tested Terry Burke. After surviving a period of pressure, Whitley came back and Moore tried to place his shot carefully but it lacked power, when a first time effort might have been more effective.
Durham were having more of the game with the ball holding up for them in the breeze and they turned the game around in the space of three minutes midway through the half. Capper and Morris were involved in a move which ended with unmarked captain Andy Bowes heading home a left wing cross right in front of goal. Back in the game with a chance, City piled on the pressure and it paid off in the 68th minute when former Bay striker Adam Johnston headed home a right wing cross from Morris.
Whitley looked briefly stunned by the change in fortunes but within seven minutes, substitute Robbie Livermore headed just wide as they battled to regain the lead. Then when Graham was fouled, Chris Moore floated a free kick across goal but Picton’s header was cleared. With eleven minutes left, Chow was only inches wide with a 15 yard shot as Whitley pressed forward while late on Picton hooked the ball just over the bar. Having battled their way back into the game, Durham looked content to see out the final stages and settle for the draw that maintained their seven point lead. However Whitley do still have a game in hand.
Although the winning run has come to an end after eleven matches, Whitley are now unbeaten in 15 games, which is the sort of form that wins championships. The season still has a long way to go with plenty more crucial games – including the trip to Sunderland Nissan on Saturday.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, Douglas(Livermore 73mins), Rowe, Coulson, Graham, Moore, Robson, Picton, Chow(Cook 87mins), Robinson(Dugdale 73mins)