|Ebac League Division One||384|
|Tuesday 27th October 2015||Whitley Bay V Morpeth Town||3-5|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
In complete contrast to Saturdayís goal less draw at Hillheads, Whitley Bayís local derby against Morpeth Town was a remarkable game which produced no fewer than eight goals. The first half was a total disaster for the Bay as they were hit by a five goal blitz which left most of the 384 fans stunned in disbelief. The second half saw a stirring fightback as Whitley scored three times without reply but the damage had already been done and the league leaders held on to move five points clear at the top of the table.
The Highwaymen totally dominated the first half, with some slick and accurate passing causing all sorts of problems for the Bay midfield and defence but it was 25 minutes before the first goal arrived.
An error by Michael Laws gave possession to Jordan Fry on the edge of the penalty area. Fry then found Luke Carr clear on the right who calmly slotted the ball past Dan Gladstone to give the visitors a well deserved lead.
Michael Chilton was denied by an offside flag but after 34 minutes Carr headed home unchallenged to double the lead. The Whitley rearguard was cut open three more times in the next nine minutes with the experienced Keith Graydon controlling midfield for the visitors as they capitalised on some woeful defending. Taggert raced away down the Morpeth left and crossed into the goalmouth where Chilton headed home number three after 37 minutes, then Chilton got his second and his sideís fourth three minutes later, heading home James Novakís free kick at the back post. Two minutes before the interval it was 5-0 when Whitley failed to deal with another set piece, Fry powerfully heading home a left wing corner at the near post although Gladstone did manage to get his hands to the ball.
Whitley had barely ventured into the Morpeth half during the opening period and it was with some trepidation that the fans awaited the second 45 minutes.
In view of the punishing fixture schedule, Adam Shanks had been rested ahead of Saturdayís FA Vase tie but a double substitution saw him come off the bench along with Sam Norris and their introduction, together with what had been said in the dressing room certainly made a difference. Playing up front with Liam Hudson, Shanks immediately set up an attack as he ran at the Morpeth defence testing them for the first time in the game. Sean Taylor briefly threatened for the Highwaymen and had a shot well held by Gladstone but play swiftly reverted to the other end where Shanks chipped the ball over the Morpeth defence from the right and Hudson was on hand to send a looping header over Harrison and just under the bar to get Whitley on the score sheet eleven minutes into the half.
With the mist rolling in off the sea and reducing visibility, Whitley were having much more of the possession as Morpeth were understandably content to sit back on their four goal advantage. Midway through the half, Hudson almost got a second when his header from Mark Bertramís free kick flashed inches beyond the post with Harrison beaten.
Ten minutes from time, there was confusion in the Morpeth goalmouth as the ball ricocheted around the box and it looked as if it might have gone out of play for a goal kick but Hudson hooked it back across goal where Shanks headed home his 20th goal of the season.
From then on it was all Whitley. The ever impressive Chris McDonald made a surging run from defence to add another dimension to the attack; a free kick from Alex Kempster was scrambled clear as Morpeth began to feel the pressure and moments later Norris burst through on the right but could not make the most of his opportunity, firing wide of goal.
A robust tackle by former Bay defender James Novak left Shanks on the ground needing treatment but to the relief of the home fans, he was eventually able to continue.
Whitley forced three successive corners in the closing stages and when the third of these was not cleared, Michael Laws crossed from the right and Stuart Bramley headed past Harrison to make the score 5-3. Just before the final whistle, a free kick from Kempster led to a fierce shot from Hudson flying a matter of inches past the post.
Their second half fight back had certainly lifted spirits among the home fans and despite the defeat, the Bay players received a rousing reception at the final whistle.
WHITLEY BAY: Gladstone, Flynn(Day 65mins), McDonald, Gibson, Laws, Bramley, Bell(Shanks 46mins), Bertram, Hudson, Richardson(Norris 46mins), Kempster
Substitutes not used: Young, Hughes
Referee: Graeme Hopper
Not surprisingly, manager Paddy Atkinson was very unhappy with his sideís defending in the first half. ďWe canít afford to make mistakes like the one that led to the first goal. Itís happened three times now in the last few games. When it went in we needed to pick ourselves up but we didnít. It was just the manner of the goals they scored - it was set pieces, balls in the box, free headers, that was the disappointing thing. So we made a couple of substitutions at half time.
ďWeíve got a big game on Saturday so that was why we made the decision to rest Shanks and I didnít really want to bring him on, but I had to after that first half.
Since the FA Cup we havenít performed well in two halves. Against Shildon we were tremendous first half, poor second half; today poor first half, tremendous second half. Iíve told the lads we need to start getting back on track and the second half tonight was like how we played in the FA Cup.
ďIíve seen some good things between Hudson and Shanks tonight, two forwards who can cause problems. But Iíve got to take stock, the juryís out on one or two players. Thereís no question about their ability, itís effort and concentration levels thatís the problem. Decisions need to be made. Come Saturday we canít afford to make mistakes and Iím talking about schoolboy errors that weíve made in three games.
In the first half tonight, some players were letting themselves down. I might have to strengthen the squad. Iím looking for consistency and it would be nice to have the same eleven starting each week but with all the injuries thatís just not been possible. We also need players on the bench who can make an impact when they come on.Ē