|skilltrainingltd League Division One||383|
|Saturday 20th February 2010||Whitley Bay V Morpeth Town||2-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
This was the second game in succession where Whitley only performed well for half of the game but as was the case on Tuesday evening against Billingham Synthonia, it was enough to earn them the three points.
Overnight snow and frost had put the game in doubt and it was only due to the hard work of groundsman David Styles that the pitch was fit for play. The terrace on the far side of the ground was still snow covered so for safety reasons it was closed to spectators.
Whitley started the game strongly and might have taken the lead within two minutes, when Paul Robinson spotted Morpeth keeper Jak Wells off his line and struck a great shot from fully 45 yards out. The young keeper dived to his left and just managed to get his hands to the ball to avoid embarrassment. Whitley continued to look much the better side and it was Robinson who went close again, this time with a rare header from Fawcett’s cross after the winger was played clear by Chris Moore. Fawcett then let fly with a fine effort which took a slight deflection but was saved low down by Wells.
Whitley got the goal they had been threatening in the 23rd minute after a Robinson free kick was only cleared as far as Chris Moore, who drove a fierce shot through a packed defence and Wells, possibly seeing the ball late, allowed it to slip through his hands into the net.
Robinson was involved in nearly every Whitley attack and a minute later he had the chance to increase the lead when a cross came in from Moore but he hit the ball high over the bar, jokingly claiming that he was too close to goal to score!
Little had been seen of Morpeth in attack but after 26 minutes, David Malloy shot wide when well placed. A minute later, Malloy was involved in the action again but at the other end when he tripped Adam Johnston in the penalty area. Johnston took the spot kick himself and easily beat Wells to put Whitley two goals ahead.
It was looking like a comfortable afternoon for Whitley against the bottom of the table side and they continued to create chances without making the most of their approach work. Five minutes before the interval, Richard Hodgson, who had earlier replaced the inured Callum Anderson, tested Wells with a free kick that the Morpeth keeper did well to push round the post.
With a 2-0 interval lead, Whitley were in control but after the break the game changed completely. After Hodgson fired just over the bar, Morpeth retaliated with Smith bringing a low save from Kindley, who was back in goal in place of Terry Burke. Gradually, Morpeth gained the initiative with Whitley seemingly content to sit on their lead. The warning signs were there though when Mark Walton struck a post with Kindley struggling to make his ground. Bryson then brought a fine diving save from the Bay keeper as Morpeth staged their best spell of the game. A few minutes later they were rewarded when David Coulson uncharacteristically failed to cut out the ball and allowed Walton to race in on goal and slot the ball low into the far corner of the net beyond Kindley. With more than 20 minutes still remaining, Morpeth were in with a chance of taking something from the game and they pushed forward, as Whitley’s play became ragged with misplaced passes frustrating the players and fans alike.
Both sides used their full complement of substitutes with Whitley bringing on Bell and Kerr in place of Johnston and Fawcett but neither player made a significant impact and as was the case against Chertsey last week, Whitley hung on at times precariously to their 2-1 lead although Morpeth lacked the finishing ability to seriously trouble the Bay defence.
In the final analysis it was another three points gained and with Spennymoor’s game at Benfield a victim of the weather, Whitley were able to trim the gap at the top of the table to 12 points, with a game in hand. With Ashington suffering a surprise defeat, the win also strengthens Whitley’s grip on second place.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Anderson(Hodgson 22mins),Fawcett(Kerr 55mins), Reid, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Chow, Johnston(Bell 74mins), Robinson
Substitutes not used: Burke, Picton
Referee: W Broadbent