|Arngrove Northern League Division One||243|
|Friday 4th April 2008||West Allotment Celtic V Whitley Bay||4-1|
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Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley's lingering hopes of retaining the championship were all but ended on Friday night when they suffered a frustrating defeat away to in-form local rivals West Allotment. The home side, managed by Whitley’s Vase winning captain from 2002 Gary Middleton, included four members of that successful squad, while Whitley were still without the trio of goalkeeper Terry Burke Mark Taylor and Lee Picton..
Barely four minutes had been played when Andy Dugdale was penalised for a challenge on former Bay defender Marc Walmsley and Allotment were awarded a penalty. Wyn Fremlin comfortably beat reserve keeper Tom Kindley from the spot to give Celtic an early lead. Whitley responded quickly and should have been given a penalty themselves four minutes later when Robbie Livermore was tripped from behind inside the penalty area. Astonishingly the referee gave a free kick just outside the area but justice was done as Lee Kerr fired the kick into the top corner giving Celtic keeper Kevin Morton no chance.
Back on level terms Whitley took command and Dean Douglas brought a good save from Morton five minutes later. Lee Kerr, now just one goal short of his 100th for the club, also saw a good effort pushed away by the keeper moments later before hitting another angled shot into the side netting. With 28 minutes played, Paul Robinson almost put Whitley in front but his shot crashed off the post.
The home side were being forced to spend much of the game in their own half but when they did attack, Kindley was not seriously troubled as long range shots were off target. Five minutes before the interval, Mark Minto volleyed just wide from Livermore’s right wing cross as Whitley searched for a second goal but at the break, the scores remained level.
Six minutes after half time and against the run of play, Fremlin restored Celtic’s lead when he took the ball wide of Kindley with the Bay defence stretched and slotted home.
A triple substitution by Whitley saw Paul Chow, Christian Graham and Damon Robson introduced and Graham soon had a chance, almost rounding the keeper before shooting just wide. Shortly afterwards, David Coulson had a goal bound header palmed away by Morton before Chris Moore’s cross from the right was volleyed just past the post by Kerr. Another near miss came when Chow scooped the ball just over the bar from another Moore cross. Still Whitley poured forward and with eight minutes left, they were again denied by the woodwork as Moore saw his shot rebound off the post.
Six minutes from time, as Whitley continued to push players forward they were made to pay for their missed chances when they were caught on the counter attack by Celtic who broke away and Lee York got the crucial third goal that put the game beyond Whitley. A fourth goal shortly after by former Bay striker Andy Hay, now back to fitness after several injuries, gave the score a very flattering look for the home side but that did not concern their players who greeted the final whistle with ecstatic celebrations as they gained a rare victory over Whitley and extended their unbeaten run to eight games.
Durham’s 2-1 victory at Tow Law on Saturday left them needing just three points from their last four games to take the title, with defending champions Whitley the only side that could still deny them. Barring a series of extremely unlikely results, the title will be decided well before the two sides meet at Hillheads in the final game of the season.
WHITLEY BAY: Kindley, Dugdale(Robson 61mins), Douglas (Graham 61mins), Rowe, Coulson, Smith, Moore, Livermore, Kerr, Minto, Robinson(Chow 61mins)