|skilltrainingltd League Division One||406|
|Monday 4th May 2009||Ashington V Whitley Bay||0-5|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
What a way to round off the league season! On a typically cold and breezy Bank Holiday Monday, the ever increasing numbers of travelling Whitley fans were treated to yet another goal bonanza as Ashington were the latest victims of Ian Chandler’s Wembley bound side.
This was Whitley’s first visit to the Colliers’ new Woodhorn Lane ground and they came knowing that a win would guarantee them at least third place in the Northern League table. Ashington were on a good run of form, having reached the Northumberland Senior Cup Final and with four wins from their last six games.
Not surprisingly, there were several changes in the Bay team as players were rested ahead of the Vase Final. Among those missing from the starting eleven were Terry Burke, David Coulson, Leon Ryan, Damon Robson, Lee Kerr and Paul Chow. Nevertheless, it was still a strong side that took to the field, with Mark Taylor returning following injury while Lee Picton took the captain’s armband.
Whitley had the better of the opening exchanges but with just four minutes played, there was a long delay following an injury to Ashington keeper Paul Simpson, who slipped while clearing the ball and fell to the ground in agony. He had to be taken from the field on a stretcher suffering from what was later reported to be a ruptured Achilles tendon. Fortunately Ashington had Kyle Hayes, a young reserve keeper on the substitutes’ bench and he took over in goal.
Whitley continued to look the better side and they went ahead after 15 minutes following a flowing move that cut through the home defence. Paul Robinson played an inch perfect ball from midfield out to the right wing for Chris Moore who closed in and from just outside the penalty area crossed into the six yard box where Adam Johnston stooped to head the ball firmly past Hayes.
Ashington responded with Stephen Hutchinson making a good run down the left before crossing for Gareth Bainbridge to fire a shot straight at Rob McLean. This was a rare break and Phil Bell nearly extended Whitley’s lead following good work by Craig McFarlane, but his header lacked power and was saved. However, three minutes later Bell doubled Whitley’s lead with an excellent individual effort. After Johnston had played the ball to the left of the penalty area, Bell closed in on goal and his shot was blocked by Hayes but the ball rebounded off the keeper and also a defender and was about to roll out of play for a corner. However, the alert Bell seized his opportunity superbly and seeing the keeper off his line he somehow got his foot round the ball and curled it from the most acute of angles round the near post and across the line to put Whitley in control of the game.
The stiff breeze was not helping either side and passes sometimes went astray but Whitley remained well on top and remained two up at the interval.
After the break, Kerr and Chow replaced Bell and Moore for Whitley as Ian Chandler rotated his squad. McLean made a good diving save to gather the ball ahead of Robbie Cockburn but Whitley were soon back on the attack. When Craig McFarlane broke into the penalty area he was upended by Hayes barely ten yards out, leaving the referee with the easiest of decisions to award a penalty. Kerr comfortably beat the young keeper from the spot for Whitley’s third goal and their 150th of the season in all competitions.
Two minutes later there were loud cheers from the Bay fans when assistant manager Steve Cuggy came off the bench for the last half hour to make what was his 100th appearance for the Club, but his first of the season.
Seventeen minutes from time, a high ball was played in from the right and Paul Chow got his head to it, glancing the ball into the top corner of the net. An Ashington defender desperately tried to hook it clear but could only help it into the back of the net. This was Chow’s 39th goal of the season and the 4-0 score was no more than Whitley deserved. Ashington were struggling to make any impact and nine minutes later they conceded another penalty when Callum Anderson, who was having another impressive game, worked his way cleverly past several defenders and was tripped just as he was about to cross the ball.
Chow looked as if he would take the kick hoping to reach the 40 goal mark but in the end it was Steve Cuggy who was handed the ball by Chow and he reached a landmark of his own as he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net for what was his 60th goal for Whitley. Four minutes from time, Chow nearly added a sixth to achieve his milestone but his shot was deflected wide and a few minutes later, the Colliers were saved from further punishment when the referee blew the final whistle.
This comprehensive victory saw good performances throughout the team and with so many players staking their claim, Ian Chandler will not have any easy job selecting his side to face Glossop at Wembley
On a day of records, Whitley now stand just one goal short of their all time record total for a season. In the 1965/66 season they scored 153 goals in all competitions and there could be no better venue than Wembley for that record to be broken next Sunday!
WHITLEY BAY: McLean, Anderson, Picton, Reay, Bone, Taylor, Moore(Chow 45mins), Robinson, Bell(Kerr 45mins), Johnston(Cuggy 59mins), McFarlane