|skilltrainingltd League Division One||125|
|Monday 27th April 2009||Penrith Town V Whitley Bay||3-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley’s title challenge was ended by this narrow defeat in Cumbria, in what was the fourth meeting between the sides this season. A tremendous run of five consecutive league wins since beating Lowestoft in the Vase had brought Whitley back into the championship race but this was always going to be a tough test against the form side in the league. Penrith’s victory was sealed by two late goals, one of which came with Whitley down to ten men after Chris Fawcett limped off after all three substitutions had been made.
With a low sun making life difficult for Penrith keeper James Holland, the game began with Whitley well on top and both Chris Moore and Chris Fawcett looked dangerous on the right wing. Whitley might well have taken the lead in the fourth minute when Fawcett crossed from the right and from ten yards out Adam Johnston side footed the ball fractionally wide of the near post with Holland well beaten. Leon Ryan then headed wide from Moore’s left wing corner before another Fawcett cross caused problems for the home defence and Chris Reid, stretching to reach the ball, poked it just wide of the goal.
Having dominated the early stages without managing to score, Whitley were made to pay when Penrith went ahead in the 23rd minute after former Bay winger Dean Douglas was allowed to run through the defence unchallenged, crossing the ball to Dan Robinson who shot across Burke and found the far corner of the net.
Still Whitley pushed forward, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and when Moore played the ball into the penalty area, Johnston shot wide. Just past the half hour, Reid was penalised for a challenge on Douglas and from 25 yards out, Penrith’s Mark Birch curled a shot beyond Burke’s far post. Play became more even but with no further score, Whitley were a goal behind at half time.
A double substitution at the interval saw Reay and Reid replaced by Chow and Robinson and within 90 seconds, Whitley were level when Picton’s throw into the 18 yard box reached Chow, whose overhead kick looped over Holland and into the top corner of the net.
The goal was no more than Whitley deserved and they now looked capable of going on to win the game but Douglas was a real threat for the home side and seven minutes later his pace took him clear but he was forced wide and his angled shot flew across the goalmouth and away from danger.
Phil Bell set up a chance for Johnston with 25 minutes left but he placed his shot too close to the keeper who made a good low save.
There were understandable signs of tiredness on both sides in the final stages, and with 14 minutes left, Dan Robinson took the ball wide on the left before angling a good shot across Burke in similar style to his first effort, to restore Penrith’s lead.
Chris Fawcett suddenly fell to the ground grasping his hamstring and despite treatment did not continue, leaving Whitley to battle out the remaining minutes with just ten men. Penrith quickly capitalised on their man advantage making it 3-1 when a corner was played deep to Matty Lea who struck a long range shot through a ruck of players and past Burke.
Although it now looked all over, Whitley kept on going and after Paul Robinson’s free kick was headed behind by defender Wayne Robertson, Chris Moore’s throw was headed back through a crowd of Penrith defenders and into the net by Phil Bell. The game was now into stoppage time but there was still one more chance for Whitley to snatch what now seemed an unlikely point when Penrith were penalised a for a foul 20 yards out on the right. Moore took the free kick but he failed to trouble Holland.
Overall, Whitley deserved at least a point but failure to capitalise on their chances eventually cost them.
The championship is now beyond them but Whitley can still have a say in the destination of the title as the new favourites Consett have to travel to Hillheads for their final game on Saturday, knowing that a win would make them champions.
WHITLEY BAY: Burke, Reay(Chow 46mins), Picton, Robson, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Fawcett, Johnston(Anderson 73mins), Bell, Reid(Robinson 46mins)