|Northumberland Senior Cup Semi-Final||774|
|Tuesday 9th March 2010||Whitley Bay V Newcastle Utd Reserves||3-1|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley produced one of their best displays of the season to knock out holders Newcastle Reserves and earn their place in the Northumberland Senior Cup Final where they will face either Ashington or Blyth Spartans, who play their semi final at the end of the month.
The victory was thoroughly deserved against a Newcastle side that included many of the team that has reached the FA Youth Cup semi finals.
Tom Kindley returned in goal for Whitley while Chris Moore was playing his last game before his move to Darlington.
The game got underway at a rapid pace with both sides intent on attacking. With barely five minutes on the clock, Whitley went ahead with a great 20 yard shot from Paul Robinson following neat inter play with Lee Kerr which cut through the United defence and left keeper Soderberg helpless. The lead was short lived though, as the visitors skilful play earned them an 11th minute equaliser after Patrick McLaughlin played Wesley Ngo Baheng through and he slotted the ball past Kindley.
Bay fans may have feared that Newcastle’s full time professionals would now take control of the game but Whitley were not disheartened by the goal and went close to regaining the lead after 17 minutes when Robinson’s superb pass found Phil Bell whose shot was put behind for a corner. Bell then stooped to head the ball straight at Soderberg after good work by Chow. Moments later, Damon Robson, playing an attacking midfield role shot just wide of the post.
Jonny Godsmark was proving a handful for the Bay defence with his pace down the right wing but Whitley were certainly giving as good as they got and after Kindley got down low to push a shot from Shane Ferguson round the post, Bell’s cross gave Moore an opening but his shot was saved. Five minutes before the interval, Moore’s cross eluded Chow but Bell saw his effort deflected past the post. Robson’s left wing corner was not cut out by the United defence and Paul Chow seized his chance, heading the ball home with the help of a deflection off the keeper. A goal ahead at the interval, Whitley fans, who made up the great majority of the 774 spectators were in optimistic mood although the game was far from over as both sides were contributing to a thoroughly entertaining contest.
The second half saw Whitley gradually getting on top as Newcastle’s attacks were increasingly being broken up by a secure defence which gave nothing away. Defender Paul Dummett did well to head the ball behind when Kerr’s incisive pass appeared to be setting Chow clear just 10 yards from goal. Just past the hour, a long throw from Phil Bell reached David Coulson after Leon Ryan had drawn two defenders out of position, leaving Coulson to head the ball past Soderberg and give Whitley the luxury of a two goal cushion.
Newcastle were now resorting to long balls upfield rather than their earlier quick passing game. This was simply playing into the hands of Coulson and Ryan while with Robinson and Robson now dominating midfield and Bell playing very effectively out on the wing, Whitley were making life difficult for United’s youngsters. Ferguson had a shot pushed wide by Kindley but then at the other end Robinson was only just off target for Whitley. Another excellent cross from the left by Bell nearly created a fourth Whitley goal but Kerr’s header was pushed wide by Soderberg.
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With just over ten minutes to go, Chow took a knock and was replaced by Chris Reid as Whitley strengthened their midfield to help repel the expected late onslaught from the holders. Kindley had to be alert to push away a well struck free kick awarded to United inches outside the penalty area but there were few other scares for the home fans.
The collective battling spirit of the Whitley side kept Newcastle out, with tremendous running and tackling back by Bell, Kerr, Robson, Anderson and McFarlane, and in fact just about every single Bay player. Clear openings for the visitors were rare as Whitley won almost every 50-50 ball and pressed forward, Chris Moore being a real thorn in the side of Newcastle’s defence. The home fans would have liked nothing more than for Moore to wrap up the victory with a farewell goal. That was not to be but none of them were complaining after such an outstanding team performance which earned Whitley a place in their first cup final of the season.
On this performance not too many would bet against them reaching two more finals, while the evening got even better when news came through that Spennymoor had lost their local derby away to Bishop Auckland. Maybe the championship race is not yet over.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, McFarlane, Anderson(Hodgson 51mins), Bell(Waite 82mins), Coulson, Ryan, Moore. Robson, Chow(Reid 79mins), Kerr, Robinson
Substitutes not used: Johnston, Burke
Referee: E Ilderton