|skilltrainingltd League Division One||92|
|Tuesday 24th February 2009||Seaham Red Star V Whitley Bay||0-3|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley emerged comfortable winners against struggling Seaham on Tuesday evening, in a game that was brought forward 24 hours to give Ian Chandler more time to prepare his team for Saturdayís FA Vase Quarter Final against Biggleswade.
A midweek fixture prior to such an important cup game would normally have been postponed but with the backlog of games so great following the recent bad weather, Whitley, along with almost all the other sides still in the Vase, opted to play on Tuesday and they were rewarded with another victory that takes them to within a point of leaders Consett, who were held to a draw at Morpeth. In addition, Whitley have a game in hand. Perhaps more significant were the results affecting the chasing group of sides, four of whom drew while Tow Law lost. Clearly the title race has along way to run and Whitley are still very much involved.
For the game at Seaham, Whitley made several changes from the side that beat Stratford the previous Saturday, with Terry Burke, Craig McFarlane and Chris Fawcett all missing while Phil Bell and Lee Picton were in the squad but on the substitutes' bench.
Into the starting line up came keeper Rob McLean, Darren Reay, Damon Robson returning from injury and Chris Bone, who was making his first start since returning to the club from abroad. Possibly because the game had been brought forward at short notice, there was a very sparse crowd, made up almost entirely of Bay fans.
Whitley started well and with just five minutes played Paul Chow shot just wide from a cross by Chris Moore. Two minutes later Whitley took the lead when good approach work from Robson and Kerr saw the ball played through to Chris Moore who drilled a low shot beyond the reach of keeper Josh Moody into the bottom corner of the net.
Rather than keeping the hosts on the back foot, Whitley allowed the youthful Seaham side time on the ball and failed to drive home their advantage. Seaham tried hard and showed plenty of energy without ever posing a serious threat. Play became rather scrappy with numerous misplaced passes and although Whitley had little difficulty in holding on to their lead, they created very little. Just past the half hour Moore, having switched wings, cut in from the left and tested Moody with a shot that he held at the second attempt. Four minutes before the interval a promising Whitley move was ended when Reay was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. The free kick was wasted, being hit well wide of the goal.
After a strangely long half time break of well over 15 minutes, play resumed with Whitley showing rather more urgency. With just three minutes gone, Chow played the ball through to Kerr who took it almost to the by-line before driving a powerful shot towards goal. The ball crashed off the underside of the bar before being cleared by the Seaham defence. A few minutes later Moore was just off target as Whitley pressed for the second goal that would have put them in complete control of the game.
On 58 minutes it duly came when Moore found space on the right, cut in and crossed to Kerr whose firmly driven ball across the goalmouth was bundled into the net by the predatory Paul Chow.
Straight from the restart Whitley were back on the attack and Chris Reidís cross from the left beyond the home defence was met by Chow who slotted the ball past Moody for his second goal in a minute. At 3-0 the game was won and both Chow and Robinson were promptly taken off, with Phil Bell and Callum Anderson joining Lee Picton, who had been brought on a few minutes earlier.
Whitley played out the remainder of the game almost like a training session and they were rarely troubled, with the home side now tiring. However, with four minutes to go, a misplaced back pass to McLean was seized on by Seaham sub Paul Atkinson who poked the ball past the Bay keeper but also inches wide of the post. Then Jamie Pooleís cross found Armes whose header looped over McLean but also over the bar.
As the game entered stoppage time Phil Bellís close range header from Reidís cross brought a point blank block from Moody, but that was the final effort on goal.
Apart from the result, it was encouraging for Bay fans to see Lee Picton, who hobbled off injured on Saturday appearing to be recovering well and getting a good half hour under his belt.
WHITLEY BAY: McLean, Reay, Reid, Robinson(Anderson 59mins), Taylor, Ryan, Moore, Robson(Picton 51mins), Kerr, Chow(Bell 59mins), Bone