|FA Vase Quarter Final||1496|
|Saturday 5th March 2011||Dunston UTS V Whitley Bay||1-2|
Match Report By Julian Tyley
The dream of winning the FA Vase for a record breaking third successive time at Wembley is another step closer to becoming a reality for Whitley Bay. They reached the semi final of this year’s competition thanks to a hard fought 2-1 victory over STL Northern League rivals Dunston UTS on Saturday.
After a below par first half performance when Dunston looked the better side and were leading at the interval, two goals from Paul Chow, the second with just nine minutes left, saw Whitley through to the semi finals of the competition for the fourth season in a row.
With the team having won their last nine games and every member of the squad in good form, Ian Chandler had a difficult task in deciding which players would miss out on a place in the starting eleven. He opted to play Kyle Hayes in goal rather than Terry Burke, while of the regular midfielders, David Pounder was the unlucky one. As expected, David Coulson was not included but along with Burke and Pounder, the extremely strong substitutes’ bench included Steve Gibson, Brian Smith and Brian Rowe.The game was preceded by a minute’s applause as a tribute to Dunston physio Matty Annan who died suddenly the previous Saturday.
In front of a packed UTS Stadium, Dunston were quickly on the attack and within four minutes, Steve Preen headed wide after a cross from Harkin was not cut out by the Bay defence. Whitley’s first attack came when Gareth Williams crossed but keeper Liam Connell comfortably saved Paul Chow’s header.
With ten minutes on the clock, Dunston’s top scorer Andrew Bulford fired the ball over the bar as the home side looked the more dangerous. Lee McAndrew was using his pace well down the left wing and dealing with this threat was giving Craig McFarlane fewer opportunities to play his more attacking game down the wing.
When Whitley broke forward, Ormston’s header towards goal was cleared just ahead of Chow by Dunston captain Ben Cattanach’s timely intervention. Moments later, the home side suffered a blow when Preen fell to the ground awkwardly and was unable to continue. He was taken to hospital and it later emerged that he had suffered a multiple fracture of his arm.
Whitley were creating half chances, and Paul Chow, in front of goal, was frustrated when he could not control a header from Darren Timmons following a free kick by Williams. Robinson then sent a powerful 20 yard effort over the bar but Whitley were lacking their usual sparkle and neat passing. Fawcett was seeing little of the ball and both he and Lee Kerr were being denied time on the ball by the strong and determined Dunston side.
The breakthrough came after 34 minutes, when Harkin’s ball over the Bay defence was seized by Andrew Bulford. He raced clear and beat Hayes with a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area. There were suspicions of offside, with some fans near the halfway line claiming that Harkin was several yards beyond the defence when the ball was played but there were no great complaints by Whitley, which was typical of a game played in a great spirit by both sides despite the importance of the occasion.
Dunston pushed forward in the remaining minutes of the half and had they got a second goal, Whitley might have struggled to get back in the game, but thanks to timely tackles by Timmons and Anderson in particular, there was only the one goal in it at the interval.
Whitley’s half time team talk brought more purpose into their play and on the restart they quickly created two opportunities. Firstly, Kerr found space inside the penalty area but slight hesitation proved costly as his shot was blocked. Then when Craig McFarlane got a cross in from the wing, Chow could not get enough power on the ball and headed straight at Connell.
Fawcett’s frustrating afternoon ended ten minutes after the interval when he was replaced by Pounder, who played a part in the build up to the equaliser barely a minute later. His neat pass in midfield was collected by McFarlane whose cross from the right was headed down by Ormston into the path of Chow. With the surface cutting up, the ball bobbled but Chow waited briefly before placing his shot beyond Connell to the relief and delight of Bay fans who made up the majority of the near 1500 crowd.
Right from the restart, Dunston went on the attack, Bulford’s ball being headed over the bar by McAndrew. A minute later, Connell’s miskick almost cost his side a goal but the keeper redeemed himself snatching the ball from the feet of Chow just as he was about to shoot.
I think the phrase is the result was all that mattered, and in truth it really was all about the result.
It would have been nice and less stressful had we’d played well, I think Dunston were at the top of their game while we had a couple of spells of playing as we can and that’s when the damage was done.
I have to say I thought their goal was off side, the linesman appeared 2 yards behind the play and could not have seen across the pitch, having said that we allowed Harkin too much time and he delivered a perfect pass for Bulford who was always looking for the ball over the top.
I must mention young Kyle, some people were saying how Kyle was man of the match, which suggests he was very busy and he saved us, on reflection Kyle played well, but at the same time I’d have not been happy had any of the shots gone in, Kyle funnily enough is there to stop the ball going in the goal and he did that very well on Saturday, and has done that every time he plays. He’s an excellent keeper, and we are really pleased with his progress, he deserved his place on Saturday but knows Terry will be breathing down his next at the same time.
I think we all want to go out and play attacking football, we can’t score 3 or 4 goals all the time and sometimes we need our defence to perform as they did on Saturday, Callum, Cheeks and Daz were fantastic, they through themselves into every tackle and just defended very well, so all in all a good performance from the defence with a couple of spells of the attacking that got us the win.
Great crowd as always, lovely to see all the regulars including Mark Taylor.
It was not all Dunston though, and Whitley always looked capable of getting a second goal, and it was Chow whose lethal finishing proved decisive with nine minutes of normal time remaining. Robson played an excellent ball through to Lee Kerr who in turn lifted the ball into the path of Chow on the right side of goal. He broke clear on goal, took the ball wide of Connell and just as it appeared that the keeper had forced him too wide to get in a shot, he angled the ball across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Not surprisingly, Dunston heads went down but the game was not quite won, and there was still time for a few anxious moments for Whitley fans firstly when McAndrew cut in from the right but his shot cleared the bar and then when another effort flew across the face of the Bay goal and away to safety.
Whitley’s experience in situations such as this paid off in the final minutes, as they retained possession and used up time by playing the ball down the line and towards the corner flag. Dunston’s remaining attacks saw desperate shots fail to hit the target. Brian Smith’s late appearance as substitute for Lee Kerr lasted barely 15 seconds before the referee blew the final whistle and the Whitley celebrations began.
This was far from a classic Bay performance and Dunston can take great credit for pushing Whitley to the limit. Perhaps a draw might have been a fair result but extra time and a replay was not what either side would have wanted given the backlog of fixtures that Dunston especially are facing.
In the eyes of many, Paul Chow was the difference between the sides, but Whitley can also thank excellent defending for keeping them in the tie. Kyle Hayes and Darren Timmons were two who particularly caught the eye.
WHITLEY BAY: Hayes, McFarlane, Anderson, Timmons, Ormston, Williams, Fawcett(Pounder 55mins), Robson, Kerr(Smith 90mins), Chow, Robinson(Gibson 88mins)
Substitutes not used: Burke, Rowe
Referee: J Simpson (Lancaster)