|STL League Division One||516|
|Saturday 13th August 2011||Whitley Bay V Dunston UTS||2-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
Whitley’s league season got underway with a thoroughly entertaining game against Dunston UTS at Hillheads. Although Whitley established a two goal advantage by half time, Dunston were never out of contention and deservedly earned a point but their equaliser came just eight minutes from time.
With Kyle Hayes unavailable, youngster Jonny Ball made his debut in goal, while new signings Robbie Dale and LeePaul Scroggins also made the starting line up.
An excellent crowd of over 500 fans were in the ground for Whitley’s first competitive game since their record breaking FA Vase win at Wembley in May and despite persistent rain throughout the week, the pitch was in immaculate condition.Whitley were the quicker to settle and Scroggins was soon making an impact in midfield. The opening goal came after 13 minutes following a neat build up, with Paul Robinson exchanging passes with David Pounder before spotting an opening from the edge of the Dunston penalty area. Visiting keeper Liam Connell was taken by surprise when Robinson arrowed a shot from 20 yards into the far corner of the net, the keeper barely moving as the ball whistled past him. The perfect way for Robinson to mark his 200th appearance for the club, it also gave Whitley the edge in what was always going to be a closely contested game.
Four minutes later, from a similar distance but in a central position, Scroggins tried his luck and once again Connell failed to move for the ball and appeared surprised to see it fly just inches past the post.
Dunston were beginning to pose a threat at the other end and with 26 minutes on the clock, Gareth Williams had to clear the ball off the line. New signing Steven Shaw along with wingers Morris and McAndrew were testing the Bay rearguard but some timely tackling by Williams and Anderson prevented the visitors from getting shots on goal and Ball was not seriously tested.
Just past the half hour, Paul Chow was close to putting Whitley two up when he battled past Cattanach on the edge of the penalty area as the two challenged for Robson’s through ball, but having done the hard work, he poked his shot just wide of goal.
Dunston were enjoying a fair amount of possession but Whitley doubled their lead six minutes before half time with an outstanding goal. After winning the ball in a crowded midfield, Scroggins played it wide for Pounder out on the left, who from fully 25 yards drove a superb shot beyond the reach of the diving Connell into the top corner of the net.
Two goals adrift at the interval, Dunston came out for the second half determined to get back in the game and within nine minutes they had reduced the deficit. Galbraith’s cross into the penalty area was played back across goal by Michael Dixon and headed home at the back post by striker Andrew Bulford.
Right from the restart, Scroggins was played through on the right but from near the by line his cross went over the bar. A few minutes later, Robinson’s first time effort was deflected just over the bar but Dunston were still very much in the game and as in the first half, they were having the greater share of possession. With 20 minutes left, Scroggins set up a glorious chance for Whitley to restore their two goal advantage with a low cross from the right but Lee Kerr, who had come off the bench only moments earlier and was under pressure from a defender, got his foot under the ball and skied it over the bar from barely four yards out.
Two minutes later Bulford wasted a chance at the other end when he blazed a cross from the wing high over the bar. Chances were coming at both ends now and when Robbie Dale threaded the ball through the Dunston defence, Scroggins’ control let him down as he played the ball too far in front of him and it was gathered by Connell.
Pounder’s low shot was saved by Connell after he had been put through by Robson but then came the equaliser when McAndrew, a constant threat with his pace down the left, crossed for Bulford to send a header looping over Ball, who might have done better to go for the cross himself.
Late substitutions by both sides failed to produce a winner, although Dunston felt they should have had a penalty for a challenge by Anderson.
While disappointed to see a two goal lead clawed back, Bay fans readily acknowledged that Dunston were deserving of a share of the spoils. Manager Ian Chandler felt that Whitley created more chances and restricted Dunston’s opportunities on goal, but both sides will feel there were plenty of positive signs for the season ahead.
WHITLEY BAY: Ball, Anderson, Pounder, Timmons, Ormston, Williams, Scroggins(C Bell 83mins), Robson, Dale, Chow(Elliott 58mins), Robinson(Kerr 70mins)
Substitutes not used: Rowe, Smith
Referee: P Thompson (Spennymoor)