|Northern League Cup 3rd Round||208|
|Tuesday 9th February 2010||Whitley Bay V Gillford Park||4-0|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley Bay had a comfortable passage into the last eight of the League Cup against Second Division newcomers Gillford Park in unpleasant wintry conditions at Hillheads.
The game was a useful work out ahead of the FA Vase 5th Round Replay against Chertsey on Saturday and served as a timely confidence booster after a run of four games without a win.
Young midfielder Mark Waite came in for his first start after making two substitute appearances in November, while three of Saturday’s midfield men, Hodgson, Robson and Robinson were on the bench.
As early as the fourth minute, Craig McFarlane broke forward and sent a shot wide of the post, then four minutes later Chris Fawcett headed over from Adam Johnston’s cross from the right. Whitley were well on top and following a corner that was only partially cleared, Johnston curled a shot around the defence and with keeper Ryan Smith rooted to the spot, the ball was only inches off target. A goal seemed inevitable and it was not long in coming. With 14 minutes on the clock, Chris Moore raced away down the right, cut the ball back from near the by-line to improve the angle for a shot and beat Smith with a well placed strike into the far corner of the net.
Whitley continued in the ascendancy and midway through the half, Leon Ryan rose above the visitors’ defence to head the ball goalwards only for Smith to push it wide of goal. Two minutes later David Coulson joined the attack and was unlucky to see his header crash off the bar.
The second goal was not long delayed however and it came from a well executed move that cut through the Gillford Park defence. Chris Fawcett went past his man with ease as he attacked down the left wing. His perfect cross ahead of the Cumbrians’ defenders was met by Lee Kerr who stole in from behind them to slot home a first time effort from six yards out.
Whitley were pressing down both wings and when Moore again got the better of his marker his cross shot was pushed away by a relieved Smith.
Weather conditions were steadily deteriorating, with heavy sleet and snow sweeping across the ground and it was not just the players who were grateful for a chance to dry out under cover at the interval.
Four minutes into the second half, with the sleet still falling heavily, the Carlisle side had a remarkable escape when Kerr’s cross shot from the right was too hot for the keeper to hold on the wet surface and Chow somehow managed to scoop the ball over the bar with an open goal at his mercy. There was never any suggestion that the miss might prove to be a turning point in the game as Gillford were struggling to mount any pressure and with little to do, Terry Burke was having to jog backwards and forwards across his area to keep himself warm.
Just before the hour, Whitley got their third goal which effectively ended the game as a contest. As with the previous two, it came as a result of the pace of Whitley’s wingers, with Moore having swapped wings with Fawcett, cutting the ball back from out on the left just behind a line of defenders to Craig McFarlane whose first time effort comfortably beat Smith to give Whitley a well deserved three goal lead.
Damon Robson was brought on for the last 30 minutes as Ian Chandler opted to rest Leon Ryan and not long after came the unusual sight of a fit keeper being substituted as Terry Burke left the field to give Tom Kindley the last quarter of the game to test his fitness following his recent hip injury. As it turned out Kindley had little more to deal with than Burke, with Whitley dominating play against a Gillford Park squad that looked just what they were, out of their depth. Whitley’s superior fitness was clear to see and with only three available substitutes, the visitors were obliged to bring on their reserve keeper into a midfield role.
They did manage to force two corners in rapid succession but David Coulson marshalled his defence well and denied the visitors any real chances of reducing the arrears.
With the game won, Whitley spurned several chances to increase their lead but after Kerr had seen his close range effort from Fawcetts’ cross bravely blocked, a fourth goal finally came just two minutes from time when substitute Hodgson broke through down the centre of the field for Kerr and when Smith raced off his line, the ball was played right to Johnston, who having run back from an offside position, was now well placed to advance a few yards to slide the ball home from an acute angle.
A game played in increasingly difficult conditions was witnessed by Whitley's smallest crowd of the season, just over 200 hardy souls. A cold evening with heavy wintry showers doubtless contributed to the small turnout, as did the fact that it was the League Cup, which traditionally attracts fewer spectators than other competitions.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke(Kindley 67mins), McFarlane, Reid, Waite, Coulson, Ryan(Robson 59mins), Moore, Kerr, Johnston, Chow(Hodgson 51mins), Fawcett.
Subs not used: Picton, Robinson
Referee: D Markham