Ludus Est Omnis  Whitley Bay Football Club

FA Vase 1st Round103
Saturday 31st October 2015 Northwich Manchester Villa V Whitley Bay 1-1
Whitley Goalscorers : Bertram38

Match Report By Julian Tyley

Whitley had to settle for a draw and a midweek replay back at Hillheads after a very disappointing performance in their FA Vase tie at Irlam on Saturday.

Northwich Manchester Villa, who had won their last three games, gave a spirited display and deserved a second chance after Whitley failed to capitalise on the chances they created in the first half.

After a quiet opening to the game, Whitley forced two corners in quick succession but it took them 20 minutes to mount their first real attack and when it came, they almost took the lead. Sam Norris found space on the right and crossed into the box but Alex Kempster’s header crashed off the post with keeper Whiting beaten. Three minutes later Adam Shanks headed wide from Steve Gibson’s cross to the edge of the 18 yard box. Liam Hudson then set up Shanks who could not get his shot on target. Whitley were now threatening with every attack and in the 31st minute, Shanks poked the ball goalwards but his effort lacked sufficient power and Whiting grasped the ball inches from the line. In a rare attack by the home side, Yousif made a quick breakaway but Gladstone got his body behind the ball to thwart the striker’s attempt on goal.

Whitley deservedly went ahead after 38 minutes when Mark Bertram met the ball perfectly and delivered an excellent shot from almost 30 yards which clipped the underside of the bar as it flew over the keeper and into the net.

Whitley looked comfortably in control but on the stroke of half time, the Manchester side drew level when the Bay defence failed to deal with a set piece move after Gibson conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal. The ball was played into the box from out on the right and was headed home by the unmarked Guy Ansah-Palmer.

The quality of play deteriorated in the second half but after just four minutes, the Northwich leading scorer Gavin Salmon was cautioned for a foul on Gladstone as the keeper went to collect the ball. Home defender Dylan Norris was shown yellow just past the hour for a mistimed challenge that sent Kempster tumbling just outside the box. A cross-cum-shot from Hudson flew across the face of goal and just beyond the far post but then Gladstone was brought into action blocking from Dube-Palmer when the home side again launched a long ball downfield. A 20 yard drive from Kempster brought a diving save from Whiting but there was little else to enthuse over until stoppage time when Shanks was almost clear on the edge of the area but was brought down by Ansah-Palmer who was booked for the offence. Chris Reid, who had replaced the injured Gibson, came forward in support but could not repeat his heroics from the Matlock FA Cup replay.

The game went into extra time and while Whitley continued to have the edge in terms of possession, they rarely looked like breaking the deadlock. The best chance came midway through the second period when substitute Michael Bell’s flicked shot was pushed over the bar by Whiting. While Northwich kept running they produced little goalscoring threat, but there was always the fear of a mistake that could see Whitley being sunk by a breakaway goal.

There was little to celebrate at the final whistle but at least Whitley have a second chance to win the tie while the Manchester side will not relish a long midweek journey to the north east for the replay.

WHITLEY BAY: Gladstone, Gibson(Reid 74mins), McDonald, Anderson(Richardson 94mins), Laws, Bramley, Norris, Bertram, Shanks, Hudson(Bell 80mins), Kempster

Substitutes not used: Young, Day

Referee: Matthew Jones

Caution: Gibson

Paddy Atkinson was quick to show his appreciation of the Whitley supporters who made up almost the entire crowd at Silver Street.

“I’d like to thank all of the fans who came down today, they made a long trip and we really didn’t put on a performance.”

Northwich MV are a division below Whitley in the non league pyramid and were clearly the underdogs, but Atkinson felt his side had not taken advantage of this situation.

“When you play a team lesser than you are, you can sometimes bring yourselves down to their level and I think this is what happened today. We only played in little spells, not for the full game. The positives were that we created a lot of chances, but we didn’t have enough people in the box to convert the chances.

“What’s really concerning me is the way we’re conceding goals. For their goal we gave away a cheap foul outside the box, then like against Morpeth we gave them a free header. Then in the second half, I had to ask the question ‘who was marking the number nine when he got a free header in the six yard box but didn’t hit the target?’

“One or two people need to up their game. I’m not going to hide the fact that if things don’t improve, we’ll have to find replacements and I’m starting to look for players to strengthen the team.

“The injury problems just continue, and rather than choosing when to change things around, we’ve been forced into substitutions, with Gibbo’s injury - a knock on his knee, then Callum had cramp in extra time. This meant we couldn’t make the changes that we wanted, to make an impact on the game. We’ve had this situation in three quarters of our games this season.”

The manager feels that expectation levels among supporters have risen dramatically following the club’s excellent FA Cup run.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the team now, Last year it was all about trying to rebuild, and we rebuilt in the summer within our budget limits. We’re a quarter way into the season and it seems that because of the success we had in the FA Cup, everyone’s expecting us to be the team that won the Vase but we’re not.

“Let’s put our feet back on the ground and see where we were this time last year – we were at rock bottom. We’ve got a good set of lads who want to play and a good dressing room. Where we need to go now is to add some more quality but you can’t build Rome in a day. We’re playing in a division where anybody can beat anybody on their day - look at North Shields, they’ve just been beaten twice by West Allotment.

“Yes we’re still in the Vase, the Senior Cup and the League Cup but as other teams have found, success will not come overnight, we’re still in the rebuilding mode. “We’ve got the nucleus of a good team, but people keep telling me we still need to improve in some positions and we know that. The difference is in the money some clubs are paying, so really, success in the league is to finish above teams who are paying more money than us. People need to understand that there are players out there who I could bring in if I had the budget that certain clubs have got, but instead I’m looking around to bring in perhaps lesser known players, as we did with Adam Shanks, and our job is trying to get the best out of them by good coaching.”