|skilltrainingltd League Division One||114|
|Wednesday 11th March 2009||Shildon V Whitley Bay||1-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
If ever a result was predictable this was it. The last six league games between the two sides at Dean Street had ended in draws and Shildon are currently the Northern League draw specialists. This game extended the sequence to seven and it was the third consecutive 1-1 draw.
Although the result did not help Whitley’s title ambitions, it was a fair outcome and lengthened their unbeaten run to eight games.
Whitley went into the game without several influential players, including Paul Robinson, Mark Taylor and Craig McFarlane. Darren Reay and Chris Bone, both of whom were on the bench on Saturday, made the starting line up this time. Shildon meanwhile were missing the suspended duo of Warren Byrne and Stuart Niven.
It was Whitley who made the better start, with Chris Fawcett and Darren Reay both just off target in the opening minutes. Shildon went close after nine minutes when a header from Moore rebounded off the upright and back into the arms of the grateful Terry Burke. Two minutes later Whitley took the lead following a free kick from Lee Kerr, who floated the ball to just beyond the back post. Leon Ryan got to the ball just in time and hooked it back into the goalmouth where Lee Picton drove the ball into the roof of the net, beyond the reach of keeper Keith Finch.
Whitley were looking comfortable but as on Saturday, Shildon played the ball around well and game was evenly balanced. The Bay defence were coping well until just on the half hour when good work involving several home players ended with the ball being played just over the Whitley defence when it really should have been cut out, and Shildon captain Daniel Moore rounded off the move with a clinical finish that gave Burke no chance.
The equaliser gave the home side a boost and they pushed Whitley back on the defensive for the remainder of the half.
Whitley began the second period in more determined style and Finch was initially the busier of the two keepers. Lee Kerr was working hard in midfield and another to catch the eye with a battling display was Phil Bell. Even so the Railwaymen continued to pose a threat and had increasing amounts of the possession without really troubling Burke. Just past the hour mark, Kerr played a good ball beyond the home defence and Chow beat the offside trap but his fierce shot from a tight angle flew inches over the bar. Whitley kept up the pressure and a minute later, Chris Fawcett played a good cross into the goalmouth where Finch just beat Kerr to the ball.
Play quickly swung to the other end and when the ball was played into the Bay penalty area, there were loud appeals by the home side for handball. The referee waved play on and Whitley went back on the attack. However, Shildon’s Mark Tinkler would not accept the decision and was sent off for continuing his protests too strongly. Down to ten men for the final 25 minutes Shildon were now on the back foot and with the wind strengthening, play became rather disjointed with neither side looking like scoring. In the last 15 minutes, Whitley brought on two of the reserves players, Mark Fenwick and Simon Reay in place of Chris Bone and Phil Bell. To their credit, Shildon fought well and in the closing stages looked the more dangerous side, creating a couple of good chances late on. But then in the last minute Whitley almost snatched victory when Chris Fawcett cut in from the left and fired in a great curling shot from 25 yards that only just cleared the bar with Finch looking beaten.
It was not a great game but Shildon are a good side and to take four points from them over the two games was a creditable achievement.
Also worthy of note was the large contingent of Bay fans who made the midweek trip to Shildon to support the team and swell the crowd. It is not just at Hillheads where Whitley’s support is growing.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, D Reay, Picton, Bone(S Reay 78mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Kerr, Chow, Bell(Fenwick 83mins), Fawcett