CONSETT 3 WHITLEY BAY 3
Saturday 19th January
On an emotional day for all associated with the club, Whitley Bay paid tribute to former fans’ favourite Robbie Livermore before holding league leaders Consett to a highly creditable draw in a six goal thriller.
With the Belle View Stadium shrouded in fog, players from both sides lined up for an impeccably observed one minute silence in memory of the hugely popular player, winner of Northern League championship and FA Vase winners medals during his career at Hillheads, who tragically died two days earlier.
Consett produced the first real chance of the game after eight minutes when an attempt from the edge of the box by Aksel Juul clipped the outside of the post. Whitley responded two minutes later when Luke Salmon attacked down the left wing and his cross into the box was cleared from danger by defender Arjun Purewal.
The home side were posing the greater threat at this stage but in the 15th minute Whitley took the lead when Craig McFarlane burst forward down the right, cut in unchallenged and from 20 yards delivered a swerving shot that deceived former Bay keeper Kyle Hayes as it flew just inside the far post. It was perhaps appropriate that McFarlane should open the scoring as he was the one player on the pitch who, earlier in his career, had played alongside Robbie Livermore. His celebrations as he looked skywards after scoring showed the emotion of the occasion as he dedicated the goal to his former team mate.
Six minutes later Bay keeper Andy Hunter needed showed his agility as he leapt to push a deflected shot over the bar. Moments later McFarlane again attacked down the right but this time his shot was pushed wide by Hayes. Luke Taylor then headed past the post from Peter Glen-Ravenhill’s corner, but Consett battled back and four minutes later they drew level when Michael Sweet drilled a low shot across goal from the left, beyond the reach of Hunter.
Just past the half hour Whitley twice went close, firstly when Glen-Ravenhill brought a good low save from Hayes then two minutes later when the lively McFarlane had another goalbound effort pushed wide. Shortly before the interval, Hunter made a good block to keep out an effort from Sweet and at the break the sides were level after an entertaining half with both teams creating chances.
The fog was thickening and when play resumed it was difficult to see the full length of the pitch, making reporting more of a challenge than usual! Consett were creating the better chances with play confined to the Bay half in the early stages as Male and Sweet both went close. A long range effort from Calvin Smith nearly caught Hunter out but the Bay keeper got back just in time and kept the ball out.
Just past the hour mark, a Bay corner saw Ryan Redford cross for Salmon whose effort was narrowly off target. Consett responded quickly and in the 65th minute they took the lead with a shot from Luke Carr which was impossible to see from just beyond the half way line but the cheers of the home fans indicated that their side scored.
An effort from substitute Mackay was only just off target but Whitley battled back into the game and they were back on terms in the 76th minute when a corner was not cleared by the Steelmen and Olly Martin nipped in to poke the ball home from close range.
With visibility deteriorating further, Consett regained the lead just three minutes later thanks to a half volley from captain Danny Craggs.
The action continued unabated with Whitley refusing to lie down and with seven minutes left, Martin’s header from a right wing cross flew agonisingly wide. With less than two minutes of the 90 remaining, Peter Glen-Ravenhill capped a tremendous battling display from Whitley with a fierce shot from the edge of the box that flew past Hayes into the net to the delight of the Bay fans who were close enough to see the action.
Into stoppage time Consett briefly thought they had snatched a dramatic late winner but an offside flag had been raised and Whitley were soon celebrating a hard earned but thoroughly deserved share of the spoils, the second time in three games that they had taken points from a top two side, following their victory over Dunston UTS two weeks ago.
WHITLEY BAY: Hunter, McFarlane, Walton, Christensen (Carr 85 mins), Anderson, Taylor, Martin, R Redford, Ardelean, Glen-Ravenhill, Salmon
Substitutes not used: Brannen, Hassan, Ramsey, Cooper
Referee: Martin Conroy