|Northern League Cup Semi Final||211|
|Monday 20th April 2009||Whitley Bay V Penrith||0-0|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley's hopes of a league and cup treble ended with the agony of defeat in a penalty shoot-out on Monday evening. A hard fought League Cup semi final against Penrith produced no goals in the normal 90 minutes or during the 30 minutes of extra time so the tie had to be decided on penalties. Lee Kerr, Phil Bell and Paul Chow all scored for Whitley and although Terry Burke saved one of the Penrith penalties, Leon Ryan saw his shot saved and then Chris Bone skied his crucial kick high over the bar to send the Cumbrians through to the final where they will meet Newcastle Benfield.
While both sides felt aggrieved by some poor decisions from the match officials, Whitley were denied what looked a blatant penalty for hand ball just five minutes from the end of extra time.
Despite arriving at Hillheads less than half an hour before the scheduled kick off time, Penrith started the game strongly and pegged Whitley back in the early stages but two of their players received yellow cards in the opening ten minutes. A dangerous tackle by striker Daniel Robinson earned him a caution and soon afterwards, defender Wayne Robertson was booked for appearing to stamp on the feet of Phil Bell. The referee did not spot the incident and had to be alerted to the offence by his assistant. The Cumbrians seemed intent on knocking Whitley off their stride with a physical approach to the game but despite seeing more of the ball, they could not penetrate the Bay defence. Midway through the half, the visitors had a narrow escape when Bell’s cross from the left was deflected onto and then over the bar by a defender. Bell then charged down an attempted back pass but the keeper managed to get the ball away to safety. On the half hour a harsh free kick awarded against David Coulson 20 yards out was fired wide by Graham Anthony.
Whitley were beginning to get more of the possession now and a long throw from Chris Reid was half cleared as far as Paul Robinson whose crisply struck volley whistled inches past the post.
Early in the second half, Reid and Moore were replaced by Lee Kerr and Chris Bone and the change information saw Whitley enjoy their best spell of the game. Claims for a Whitley penalty were dismissed after Bone was strongly challenged by Penrith’s captain Mark Jones inside the six yard box. Both players were booked but no further action was taken.
Penrith came back and the pacy Dean Douglas brought a fine save from Burke with a powerful shot. Phil Bell twice broke through the Cumbrians’ defence but could not place his shot accurately enough. With the game in stoppage time, Burke produced a superb save, leaping away to his right to palm a goal bound drive from Anthony over the bar when it looked as if the visitors would grab a late winner.
Extra time produced little excitement until the last five minutes, with both sides tiring. Then came the penalty claims by Whitley when a shot was driven through a packed Penrith defence. Two minutes from time, Craig McFarlane, who had been outstanding all night in defence, was pushed forward to support the attack and sent a header from Kerr’s corner just wide of goal. A minute later, McFarlane was put clear on goal with only keeper Holland to beat but hurried his shot and blasted it wide.
That was the final chance to settle the game in open play and so the tie went to the lottery of penalties which was great entertainment for the neutral but ended in heartache for Whitley and their fans.
Penrith are a good side and are finishing the season strongly but Whitley created enough chances to have won the game regardless of the refereeing decisions that went against them. The visitors though will feel that they have gained some revenge for their extra time defeat at the hands of Whitley in the FA Vase in Cumbria back in December.
For Whitley to earn their place in two cup finals would have been a tremendous achievement but of the two that were still on offer, Whitley Park, Benton in the League Cup Final can hardly compare with Wembley!
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Taylor, McFarlane, Robson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore(Bone 57mins), Reid(Kerr 56mins), Chow, Bell, Robinson(Reay 99mins)