|Ebac League Division One||296|
|Saturday 24th October 2015||Whitley Bay V Penrith||0-0|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley are rarely involved in goal less draws and this was the first time in four and a half years that Bay fans have witnessed a 0-0 result at Hillheads. Based on the entertainment provided in this game, they will be hoping that it is at least another four years before there is a similar outcome!
Goalscoring opportunities were few and far between as both sides struggled to break down determined defences and in the end a draw was fair result.
The opening moments of the game gave false hope to the home supporters as within 60 seconds, Alex Kempster drove in a low shot that was on target but it was comfortably collected by Penrith keeper Danny Eccles. A free kick six minutes later saw Jake Richardson fire in a shot that was blocked by defender Will Paul.
The game was largely a midfield struggle but on the quarter hour, Steven Logan tried a long range effort for the Cumbrians but the ball flew well wide. Richard Flynn headed over the bar from a Mark Bertram corner while at the other end Nathan Waterson headed wide from a free kick.
Twice in the minute leading up to half time, Dan Gladstone was called into action, firstly to block a close range attempt from Logan and then to deny Penrith’s top scorer Martyn Coleman.
After the interval Phil Lumsden replaced Steve Gibson who had picked up a thigh injury just before the break. Whitley started the half in more positive fashion and after eight minutes, Adam Shanks cut in from the left and when his shot was deflected behind, Michael Laws went close from the resultant corner, his powerful first time effort cannoning off Jake Smith for another corner.
Whitley’s best chance of the game came two minutes later when Shanks forced an excellent save from Eccles, the keeper bravely pushing his fierce shot round the post.
Whitley continued in the ascendency and a looping header from Lumsden dropped just beyond the back post.
Penrith then broke quickly upfield and Gladstone did well to block a shot from Waterson after Coleman had set up the chance. Flynn then rescued Whitley following a slip by Laws when he raced back to whip the ball off the toes of Coleman just as he seemed certain to score.
Chris McDonald, who along with Gladstone was the pick of the Bay players, then attacked down the left and crossed for substitute Liam Hudson whose header was a foot too high and failed to trouble Eccles.
Eight minutes from time, Gladstone again made a vital save, pushing away a shot from Penrith substitute Richard Faustino.
In the two weeks since their defeat by Chorley, Whitley have struggled to reach the levels of performance that saw them do so well in the FA Cup, with confidence levels appearing to have taken a dip. However, to take a positive from this game, Whitley kept a clean sheet, their first in five games and Dan Gladstone, deputising for the injured Andy Jennison, looks increasingly assured between the posts.
WHITLEY BAY: Gladstone, Gibson(Lumsden 45mins), McDonald, Bertram, Laws, Flynn, Norris(Hudson 63mins), Richardson, Shanks, Bell, Kempster
Substitutes not used: Young, Day, Bramley
Referee: Lindsey Robinson
Assistant manager Paul Johnson was clearly disappointed with Whitley’s performance, saying “In the first half we just weren’t at the races.”
Well aware that form has dipped in recent games he went on “It’s changed a bit now, we’ve done so well and we’ve been winning, and the emphasis has been on us really taking charge and winning games but there’s that little bit of doubt crept in with a few players and they’re a bit tentative, they drop off a little bit rather than keeping it tight and it showed in the first half. After the Ashington game they all knew we’d played badly to lose that game.
“In the second half I thought they responded a bit better. I don’t think Penrith had that many chances other than when we had a set piece and they’d break early by kicking long. Other than that we controlled them better in the second half but we still didn’t look like we were going to score.
“The game ended up very narrow because they played a middle three and a front three which should have left us space to play wide but we didn’t use it well in the first half and then we sort of ‘flipped it’ a bit on them. We went to front three and it caused them problems, but we didn’t really create chances.
“Overall it’s a bit disappointing, we think we should have got more out of that game. The lads are disappointed, they think they should have done better, they know they can do better.
Johnson feels the squad needs to regroup. “We’ve had a tough three weeks and it’s going to get tougher right through to December with the games we’ve got. It’s the first time I’ve known it happen like this with the fixtures so we’re just going to have to ride through this. It’s a shame we’re not getting breaks between games to reflect and get back to training. We’re playing Saturday and Tuesday every week at the minute, so training is very difficult and it’s hard to get very much out of them on a Thursday.”
He was clearly frustrated with the continuing injuries which he blamed partly on the number of rescheduled fixtures that have been arranged between now and early December. “When we’re playing so many games you pick up injuries. I wish we did it the old way with fixture loading at the end of season rather than at this time of the year when the Vase is coming up and there are so many important games.”
Johnson had no hesitation in picking out Dan Gladstone as his man of the match.
“Dan’s done great, he was man of the match today, his saves at key moments in the game kept us in it. He’s a young lad, he’s still learning and I’m pleased for him. He’s been sitting on the sidelines waiting for his chance and as a goalkeeper, when your chance comes, you’re in the spotlight and since coming into the side he’s done well, really well.”