Ludus Est Omnis  Whitley Bay Football Club

FA Vase 1st Round Replay340
Tuesday 3rd November 2015 Whitley Bay V Northwich Manchester Villa 3-1
Whitley Goalscorers : Williamson39, Shanks55 and Hughes79

Match Report By Julian Tyley

Whitley Bay came from behind to win their FA Vase Replay against Northwich Manchester Villa and advance to the 2nd Round for what is becoming an annual Vase tie at home to Dunston UTS.

This was a game that Whitley were expected to win but although they ended up comfortable victors, their lower ranked opponents did not make it easy and it was only in the latter stages that Whitley’s superiority shone through.

They made two changes from the side that was held to a 1-1 draw in Manchester with Robbie Williamson and Kris Hughes both in the starting eleven, and the pair made a significant impact on the game, capping impressive performances with a goal apiece.

Whitley were presented with the chance to take an early lead when Northwich defender Sven Gibson handled the ball inside the box after just nine minutes but Adam Shanks hit the post with his penalty kick. It was his sixth spot kick of the season and the first one he had failed to convert.

Seven minutes later, Chris McDonald’s teasing cross was put behind by Dylan Norris who got his foot to the ball just ahead of Shanks. From the corner that followed, Robbie Williamson’s fierce shot from twelve yards was brilliantly saved by keeper Daniel Whiting at the expense of another flag kick.

Despite determined defending and some neat passing by the visitors, Whitley were well on top and two minutes later Mark Bertram attempted to replicate his goal from Saturday’s game but his 20 yard chip shot was safely held by Whiting.

A quick break to the other end brought Dan Gladstone into the action, racing out to clear the ball inches ahead of the onrushing Lassana.

Kris Hughes saw a first time effort flash past the post while a goalbound shot from Callum Anderson took a huge deflection off Alex Kempster and flew wide of the target.

In only their second attack of the game, Northwich MV took a shock 32nd minute lead when a misplaced pass from Williamson deep inside the visitors half was seized on and played into the path of Dylan Norris who raced away down the left before beating Gladstone with a perfectly placed shot across the keeper from all of 20 yards.

Williamson, who celebrated his 18th birthday two weeks ago, made amends for his error seven minutes later with a superb 20 yard shot that rocketed into the top corner of the net to level the score. It was a crucial goal and lifted his team mates as well as the fans in the closing stages of the half. Three minutes before the break, Shanks got a sight of goal and tried to place a shot into the corner of the net but the attempt lacked power and Whiting saved comfortably.

As in the game on Saturday, Whitley had been guilty of missing chances during the first half but after the interval, they improved and exerted more pressure on the Northwich defence. Another 20 yarder from Williamson was finger tipped over the bar by Whiting eight minutes after the restart and the youngster then headed over from Bertram’s corner.

Whitley’s persistence paid off two minutes later when Shanks beat Whiting to Williamson’s through ball and poked it past the keeper and into the net from ten yards to put Whitley in front.

A mistake by Whiting nearly proved costly when Hughes intercepted the ball and crossed to Shanks inside the six yard box but his shot went just the wrong side of the post.

The visitors were offering little attacking threat but with 71 minutes played, it took a goal line clearance to deny them an equaliser following a free kick 25 yards from goal on the Whitley right.

Alex Kempster, who only passed a fitness test shortly before kick off after suffering a dead leg on Saturday, picked up another injury when he was hit on the head by a flying boot from Lassana. Despite treatment he was unable to continue and was replaced by Sam Norris for the last quarter of an hour.

Eleven minutes from time a third goal gave Whitley much needed breathing space and it came from a poor clearance from Whiting who sliced the ball straight into the path of Kris Hughes on the edge of the 18 yard box. The midfielder calmly controlled the ball before delivering a measured lob back over Whiting into the roof of the net, to the delight of players and fans alike. With a two goal cushion, Whitley were finally in control of the game and a tiring Northwich side offered little threat in the closing stages. Indeed, Whitley might have added to their lead when Shanks got on the end of McDonald’s free kick but his header was pushed clear by Whiting.

It was far from a vintage Bay performance but they had done enough to deserve their victory and a tie at home to Dunston UTS for the third consecutive season.

WHITLEY BAY: Gladstone, Gibson, McDonald, Anderson, Laws, Bramley(Reid 62mins), Williamson, Bertram, Shanks, Hughes, Kempster(Norris 77mins)

Substitutes not used: Hudson, Bell, Young

Referee: Helen Conley

Caution: Reid

Assistant Manager Paul Johnson felt that his side had created enough chances to have had the game won by half time, but said that retaining possession better in the second half had been a crucial factor in the victory.

“It was very similar to Saturday, we started quite bright, our possession looked quite controlled, we hurt them where we thought we could, at the two sides with Alex and Robbie but we didn’t capitalise. We created enough to have been three or four up given we missed a penalty as well. But we knew we mustn’t revert to what we did last Saturday which was panic stations and the long ball.

“The plan at half time was to go back to keeping the ball, keep giving Callum (Anderson) and (Mark) Bertram the possession and they’d keep picking the passes and eventually the chances would come, but we had to be a little bit more secure at the back because they kept breaking on us. We knew it was just going to be a long ball and they’d hope they could get a bit of pace down the sides, so we narrowed it at the back and it stopped any threat. At times it doesn’t look pretty but we were keeping the ball for bigger spells than we had been.

He explained the possession tactics “I can understand when you listen to the crowd they have a bit of a moan, but when we have the ball the opposition don’t and in previous games it’s been so end to end, they can score then we have to go and score and then they score again… but if we keep the ball better, then they don’t score at all; which paid off in the end because in the last 15 minutes they didn’t get close because we kept the ball. We moved it about, we had chance after chance, it could have been five, six or seven really. I thought we’d improved from Saturday. We’re still not where we were and I think the lads worry when we lose because they’re not used to that but I’ve just said to them ‘put it in perspective we’ve played 23 games and lost five, now that’s not a bad ratio!’ There’s no pressure on them, they’re doing very well.

Johnson was full of praise for two of his youngest players, teenager Robbie Williamson, just back from trials at League One Fleetwood Town and 20 year old Alex Kempster.

“Robbie did brilliantly, what we’d said to them was when we get the ball just play as a front three so you’re attacking their full backs and centre backs and when we lose the ball cover as a winger would. We’re asking a lot of work from Alex and Robbie and they both did it. Playing like that you’ve got to work hard but it means you’re more attacking minded.

“I hear people saying ‘cross the ball, cross the ball’ but we haven’t got great headers of the ball, sometimes you’ve got that one striker so when Robbie can finish like that for his goal with his left foot, cut in side and put it straight in the top corner… well.. keep the ball, get it out wide, cut inside shoot and we score…simple! It’s not rocket science this game of football!

Kris Hughes was back in the side after missing Saturday’s game due to work commitments and Johnson was delighted with the midfielder’s contribution in the number ten role.

“I thought Kris had a massive impact in that little space, his work rate is unbelievable. He’ll lose it sometimes, but if you have a player who’s determined to run the ball at players, it just backs them off and their back line got deeper and deeper because they knew if he got on the ball he was going to charge at them. I don’t mind if he loses it 50% of the time because the other 50% might get you a goal, and that one goal might make the difference in winning the game.

“Callum’s had another good game, he did well on Saturday but he took a knock again today and had treatment afterwards. Sam’s come into the game and shown glimpses again. It’s good to see a bit of confidence coming back in a few of the lads.

Johnson added that the 4-4-2 system that worked so well against Shildon had not paid off on Saturday. “I think playing with the striker, a number 10 and wide players stretches the play and gives a lot more options than two forwards who are being marked all the time.

“I’m pleased, we’re nearly back on track but I’ll not be 100% happy until we’re keeping the ball better and moving it better and faster.