|FA Vase Quarter Final||1505|
|Saturday 27th February 2010||Shildon V Whitley Bay||1-5|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley remain on course for a return to Wembley after a tremendous action packed cup tie at Shildon. The game had just about everything; a player injured during warm up, a delayed kick off due to crowd congestion and then when the action got underway on the pitch, six goals, two penalties and three players sent off.
It all ended perfectly for Whitley and their fans although it has to be said that the final score was rather harsh on Shildon. Indeed, for much of the first half the home side looked by far the better team and dominated proceedings for the first 30 minutes.
It seemed a minor miracle that the game was not postponed following persistent rain and snow the previous day, but although heavy, the pitch was perfectly playable and did not cut up too badly.
Whitley were forced into a late change when Chris Fawcett pulled up with a hamstring injury during the pre-match warm up and was replaced by Adam Johnston. Richard Hodgson was also missing through suspension but otherwise it was a full strength Bay side that started the game.
Shildon were on a good run and having beaten Whitley 3-1 in a league game at Dean Street just four weeks earlier were understandably full of confidence.
It was not surprising therefore that the Railwaymen looked the more lively side in the opening period and after just eight minutes Warren Byrne almost gave them the lead with a shot that clipped the bar and flew over. As it turned out, the Shildon striker was offside but it still served as a warning to Whitley. Ian Watson was causing problems with surging runs down the Shildon left and after 14 minutes his cross into the goalmouth was headed over the bar by Byrne. It was a ‘backs to the wall’ opening period for Whitley as they battled to contain the home side who moved forward with pace and accurate passing.
It was no real surprise when Shildon took the lead with 21 minutes on the clock. Another attack down the left saw Watson cross into the box where Richmond directed the ball back across goal. Daniel Moore’s header was parried by Burke but Sam Garvie pounced on the loose ball to score from close range.
Two minutes later another cross from Watson was pushed behind by Burke at the back post as Shildon continued to dominate the game. Whitley were looking ragged and they struggled to hold on to the ball but eventually they mounted an attack after 26 minutes when Johnston took the ball wide on the left before curling a 25 yard effort wide of the far post.
What turned out to be the crucial moment of the game came after 34 minutes when Whitley were on the attack and Johnston was trying to win possession on the right side of the Shildon penalty area. Defender Phil Brumwell, who had a short spell at Hillheads in 2003, lunged at Johnston with studs showing and brought the Bay player down. The referee awarded a penalty and promptly sent Brumwell off. Johnston needed treatment following the incident and therefore had to leave the field when play resumed. This meant that he could not take the penalty so Paul Chow took on the responsibility. Shildon keeper Keith Finch dived the right way and got his hand to the ball but could only push it onto the inside of the post and the ball ended up in the net.
Back on level terms and with a one man advantage, Whitley suddenly looked a different side, exuding confidence, while Shildon’s heads dropped. Two minutes later Whitley so nearly went in front thanks to another moment of magic from Paul Robinson, who fired in a long range shot that beat Finch but crashed off the underside of the bar and although Johnston responded quickly and his shot rebounded into the net off Chow, the effort was ruled offside. Whitley dominated the remaining minutes of the half, passing the ball neatly and finding space, in total contrast to their earlier play. Shildon on the other hand were probably glad to hear the half time whistle and have the chance to regroup.
They brought on Martin Houlahan after the interval and the man who caused Whitley all sorts of problems when he came off the bench in the league game stirred his team mates as the ten men matched Whitley for the next 25 minutes.
Terry Burke twice saved from Daniel Moore while timely tackles by Coulson and Ryan prevented Walklate from getting shots on goal. At the other end, Ryan headed just over from Chris Moore’s corner as both sides gave as good as they got.
Ian Chandler brought on Lee Kerr for Callum Anderson just before the hour and on the heavy pitch, fresh legs were just what Whitley needed. A rash tackle by Darren Timmons earned him a booking midway through the half but two minutes later the breakthrough finally came. Damon Robson’s cross was played on by Robinson to David Coulson, whose shot rebounded off Finch back to Coulson and into the net. An element of good fortune perhaps but that did not concern Whitley who were now in the lead for the first time. Shildon bravely fought back and within a minute Whitley had Burke to thank for a fingertip save from substitute Harwood.
Another Whitley substitution followed, with Phil Bell replacing Johnston. Previous cup ties have seen Bell brought on to harass opposing defences and he was about to do the same again and make a crucial impact. Five minutes after going in front, Whitley attacked down the right and Damon Robson, in many eyes Whitley’s man of the match, chased the ball to inches short of the by line before clipping a cross back into the six yard box where Bell rose to head the ball but in a desperate effort to get there first, defender Mark Foster only succeeded in heading the ball into his own net over the despairing Finch.
Whitley were now well in control and seconds later Chow volleyed over after Moore had broken away down the right and crossed into the goalmouth. A second yellow card for Darren Timmons saw him sent off with 12 minutes left, after what the referee deemed to be a bookable offence following a tackle in increasingly muddy conditions. Whitley responded to the loss of a key defender by bringing on Lee Picton for the last ten minutes in place of Paul Chow, who had worked tremendously hard throughout the game.
In spite of the sending off, Shildon were unable to get back in the game despite efforts from Houlahan and Byrne. Frustration got the better of captain Justin Keegan four minutes from time when in an unpleasant incident, he put both hands round the neck of Chris Moore, briefly sparking a mass confrontation between the players. Fortunately tempers quickly cooled and after consulting with his assistant, the referee showed Keegan a red card, leaving Shildon to play out the game with just nine men.
Whitley took full advantage and just two minutes later they added a fourth goal when Bell rose at the back post to head home from Picton’s left wing cross, after Robinson had tricked his way past a defender.
To compound Shildon’s woes, two minutes into stoppage time Chris Moore raced clear down the right and when the now tiring Watson tried to get in a challenge, Moore fell to the ground and the assistant flagged for a penalty. Lee Kerr sent Finch the wrong way from the spot to make the margin of victory even more emphatic.
The final whistle brought scenes of joy and celebration from Whitley players and fans alike as the magnitude of the victory began to sink in. A third successive appearance in the FA Vase semi finals was achieved with Whitley’s first win at Dean Street in 22 years, when coincidentally, they won by the same score in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round. It was also Shildon’s heaviest defeat of the season. And all this took place in front of a bumper crowd of over 1500 spectators.
In the end, manager Ian Chandler’s prediction that Whitley’s experience of the big occasion could lead to their advantage proved to be correct. For while they struggled for the first half hour, they kept their composure, battled away and seized their chances when they came, whereas after a very impressive start, Shildon struggled to cope with pressure once they had a player sent off.
WHITLEY BAY; Burke, Timmons, Johnston(Bell 72mins), McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Chow(Picton 80mins), Anderson(Kerr 58mins), Robinson
Substitutes not used: Reid, Kindley
Referee; R West