|skilltrainingltd League Division One||599|
|Saturday 2nd May 2009||Whitley Bay V Consett||3-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
For the second successive Saturday, Whitley staged a dramatic come back after going two goals down in the first half, and once again they did it against the side top of the table.
Last week they severely dented Spennymoor’s championship hopes but Saturday’s victory was even more significant as it denied Consett the chance to claim their first Northern League title. The Steelmen can still become champions if Newcastle Benfield, the only side that can catch them, fail to win at Penrith on Tuesday evening but the result left Whitley in with a chance of claiming runners up spot.
The Northern League’s biggest crowd of the season, 599 spectators, saw the game get underway in glorious sunshine and it was Consett who started much the better and after just seven minutes Terry Burke was called into action, saving from Adam Emson. Whitley’s best effort in the opening half hour came with a speculative long range lob from Adam Johnston that dipped just over the bar.
Consett deservedly took the lead just before the half hour when Steven Johnson fired the ball home after hesitation in the Bay defence.
Whitley responded with Chow almost breaking clear but good defending denied him space and his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Play was held up when Johnson’s challenge caught Burke. The Consett man was booked and Burke needed treatment before he could continue.
The visitors must have felt that the title was theirs when they increased their lead two minutes before half time. The goal came when Dickman broke clear on the right and his shot struck the base of the post, rebounding to Emson who slotted the ball home to the delight of the sizeable number of visiting fans. There was no denying that Consett were the better side and looked much hungrier than Whitley.
However, all that changed after the interval as Whitley stormed back into the game.
Just over three minutes after the resumption, Paul Chow sent a glancing header past Paul Gilmore, who was a late replacement in goal for the visitors following an injury to their first choice keeper in the warm up. Consett’s nerves were jangling and urged on by the crowd, Whitley piled forward, Adam Johnston twice going close in quick succession. Whitley had strong claims for a penalty following a trip that appeared to take place just inside the area. However, the referee awarded a free kick inches outside the box and when Johnston drove the ball into the goalmouth, Phil Bell steered the ball past Gilmore for the equaliser.
Terry Burke made a great diving save to deny Gary Ormston and then Callum Anderson made an excellent clearance but in general it was Whitley who looked the likelier to get the winner as Consett began to run out of steam and appeared willing to settle for the point that would almost guarantee them the title.
Anderson, only a teenager, was impressive throughout and with eight minutes remaining almost set up the winner, threading an excellent ball through the Consett defence that almost reached Kerr in a scoring position. Two minutes later, Chris Moore, who had come off the bench midway through the half, was played clear on the right by Chris Reid and closed in on goal before calmly sliding the ball past Gilmore from an acute angle when the keeper must have been expecting him to cross the ball. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and it left the visitors deflated. Whitley comfortably played out the remaining minutes and might even have got a fourth when Craig McFarlane curled a shot just beyond the far post.
At the final whistle the Consett players sunk to their knees realising that they had let the title slip from their grasp while the Whitley team left the field acknowledging the ovation from their fans on their last appearance of the season at Hillheads with their date at Wembley just a week away. Whitley have scored a remarkable 66 goals in their 21 League games at Hillheads this season, a testimony to their attacking style of play and this is just part of the reason why attendances have continued to rise and are far superior to those of any other Northern League side.
WHITLEY BAY; Burke, Anderson, Picton, McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Bell(Moore 65mins), Kerr, Johnston(Reay 79mins), Chow, Robinson(Reid 70mins)