|skilltrainingltd League Division One||225|
|Tuesday 3rd March 2009||Whitley Bay V Sunderland Nissan||2-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
A draw was probably a fair result in this keenly contested game at Hillheads. Sunderland Nissan are always tough opponents and are very much in the running for the title and their performance on Tuesday evening was one of the best by a visiting side this season.
On a wet and windy evening, Whitley made just one change from the team that knocked Biggleswade out of the FA Vase on Saturday, the fit again Craig McFarlane replacing Paul Robinson, who was injured.
The game began at a fast pace with Nissan playing with the wind at their backs. Leon Ryan headed over the bar from a right wing corner after just three minutes but Nissan were quick to counter with a shot that flew over the bar. There was a brief stoppage when Ryan and Nissan’s Gary Pearson clashed heads but after treatment both players were fit to continue. The visitors went close after 11 minutes when Josh Gillies drove a low ball across the face of goal but it eluded everyone and went out of play. Craig McFarlane was brought down from behind by Richard Hodgson as he raced through from midfield and the Nissan man was rightly booked by the referee.
With 14 minutes played, Whitley took the lead when Chow’s cross from the right was headed down in the six yard box by Phil Bell and David Coulson fired the ball home from close range.
Nissan were still very much in the game and their slick passing was keeping the Whitley defence on their toes. With 23 minutes gone, the visitors were awarded a dubious free kick just over 20 yards out on the right and Hodgson’s shot beat everyone, clipping the inside of the far post on its way into the net to level the score. Nissan were looking the better side at this stage and on the half hour they went ahead after Whitley failed to clear the ball and Nissan’s new signing Tyson Masters slid the ball past Burke from close range. Four minutes later another free kick awarded to the Wearsiders was driven straight at Burke and the danger was averted.
Nissan held their lead for just seven minutes, with Whitley equalising when Chow’s cross was headed home by Leon Ryan, Nissan defender Andrew Stephenson helping the ball into the roof of the net in a vain attempt to clear the header off the line.
It looked as if there were plenty more goals to come with both sides playing fast, attacking football but at the interval it was all square.
The strengthening wind made good football increasingly difficult during the second half but there was still plenty of entertainment for the healthy midweek crowd to enjoy. Ryan’s header was cleared before Nissan keeper Paul Newton ended up back pedalling into the back of the net, greatly relieved to see Lee Picton’s high cross from the right drop just inches over the bar. Former Bay favourite Brian Rowe, now Nissan captain, was booked for bringing down Chris Moore in full flight, but the free kick just outside the penalty area was wasted.
The referee was frustrating Whitley with some seemingly poor decisions and from one such incident, Nissan gained a free kick in a dangerous central position just over 20 yards out. The ball was played into a ruck of Bay defenders and was cleared but Whitley were now coming under a good deal of pressure. However, Coulson, Ryan and Taylor in particular were standing firm while McFarlane was working extremely hard to win the ball and play it out to Moore and Fawcett on the wings.
Both sides continued to search for a winner but in the end it was a game that neither side really deserved to lose and the result was Whitley’s first drawn game at Hillheads since August.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor(Bone 70mins), Picton, McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Bell, Kerr, Chow(Reay 79mins), Fawcett(Reid 67mins)