|FA Vase 5th Round Replay||1103|
|Saturday 13th February 2010||Whitley Bay V Chertsey Town||2-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Chertsey made a real fight of it but two goals in the last five minutes of the first half were sufficient to see Whitley claim their place in the Quarter Finals of the FA Vase for the third year in succession.
Saturday’s 5th Round Replay attracted Whitley’s biggest crowd of the season, just over 1100 fans and they were treated to a game as closely contested as the previous encounter in Surrey last week.
Both sides made changes to their line ups; Lee Kerr and Adam Johnston replacing Paul Chow and Phil Bell as Whitley’s strikers while defender Darren Timmons was injured. In a surprise change by Chertsey, top scorer John Pomroy was dropped to the bench in favour of Kwabena Agyei.
The game got off to a dramatic start as straight from the kick off Whitley raced upfield with Chris Fawcett outpacing his marker before crossing into the box where Adam Johnston met the ball but failed to get a good connection and his shot lacked power and was easily saved by Liam Stone. Barely a minute later, a good through ball reached Johnston in the clear but his shot was off target and the assistant’s flag was raised for a marginal offside decision.
After this encouraging opening, Whitley were gradually pegged back and might have gone behind after 11 minutes when a cross from the left reached Steve Goddard with the goal at his mercy but he shot well wide. A minute later Goddard was lucky to escape punishment for bringing down Chris Moore as he raced clear. Then Dave Tarpey brought an excellent save from Burke as the visitors started to gain the upper hand. Striker Agyei was justifying his place in the starting line up with some forceful play which was unsettling the Bay defence, but this was balanced to some extent by Chris Moore’s ability to outpace defender Ollie Treacher, something that was lacking in the previous game.
Just past the half hour mark, a cross from Gavin Bamford was slotted home from close range by Agyei to give the visitors a lead that on the balance of play they probably deserved. The goal sparked exuberant celebrations on the visitors’ bench but it quietened the crowd. However, Whitley responded well, and nine minutes later they were back on terms thanks to a goal that was worth the admission money alone. Receiving the ball from Damon Robson just inside the Chertsey half, Paul Robinson advanced a few steps before unleashing a superb shot from well over 35 yards that rocketed into the corner of the net before Stone could move.
Two minutes later, Chertsey broke away and Goddard was denied when Burke bravely dived to smother the ball. However, the Chertsey man’s foot appeared to go right through on Burke, injuring the keeper and incensing the Whitley team and the fans. Many in the ground felt the foul warranted a red card but the referee was more lenient and only showed yellow. Whitley were really fired up after this incident and just a minute before the interval, they got what proved to be the winning goal. Having forced a corner, Robinson crossed the ball to the back of the goalmouth, and when the home side failed to clear, David Coulson poked the ball home from close range. For the fans behind the goal, the ball seemed to take for ever to cross the line but the angle of Coulson’s effort took it across the goal beyond the reach of the keeper and into the net.
The sudden turn around in the game meant that Whitley left the field at the half time whistle full of confidence while the visitors looked deflated.
After the break, Chertsey stepped up their efforts and a free kick by Tarpey flew just wide of goal. Although Whitley’s defence was being tested, excellent work in midfield by Robinson was prompting a number of attacks but Whitley were struggling to penetrate a determined defence. Just after the hour, Fawcett’s pace took him clear down the left and when he cut in, his shot was only parried by Stone into the path of Lee Kerr, whose angled effort hit the side netting. Another attack by Fawcett gave Kerr a further opportunity and this time he was unlucky to see his snapshot curl just inches past the post with Stone beaten.
Shortly after came a crucial moment in the game when Chertsey captain Steve Gibson found space on the right and smashed a long range effort towards goal. The ball crashed off the underside of the bar onto the line and away, much to Whitley’s relief.
As the visitors threw more men forward, Whitley seemed to content to soak up the pressure. They were conceding possession and were playing a much more defensive game in the closing stages. They seemed unable to hold onto the ball and were allowing Chertsey to mount attack after attack. However, David Coulson and Leon Ryan were marshalling the defence superbly. Terry Burke's handling was confident and with Craig McFarlane and Damon Robson both working tirelessly, Whitley kept the Surrey side at Bay.
In late breakaways Whitley had chances to put the result beyond doubt but failed to do so. Paul Robinson’s shot was blocked by the feet of keeper Stone then with time running out Robinson’s corner saw substitute Phil Bell head straight at the keeper.
After five minutes of added time, the final whistle was greeted with celebrations both on and off the pitch although the gallant Chertsey players left the field bitterly disappointed having given Whitley a real battle.
The defence of the Vase is still on so roll on the Quarter Finals and a mammoth Northern League battle at Shildon on February 27th!
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, McFarlane, Fawcett, Hodgson(Reid 53mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore(Chow 83mins), Robson, Johnston(Bell 66mins), Kerr, Robinson.
Subs not used: Picton, Kindley
Referee: R Wootton