|Northumberland Senior Cup 1st Round||n/k|
|Saturday 6th November 2004||Walker Central V Whitley Bay||1-2|
Match Report By Peter Fox
Whitley scraped into the quarter finals of the Northumberland Senior Cup after a hard fought game against a promising Walker Central side on a glue pot of a pitch.
Despite only living 20 mins walk away it was the first time I had been there - usually watching Benfield or West Allotment if I wanted to see Alliance games, now both in the ANL of course - and a canny set up it is too. A nice new changing room block, complete with table tennis and a big screen in a large bar area. They also do a good programme, perhaps not surprising as it comes from the same 'stable' as the current Benfield classic. It isn't as in depth as the Benfield edition (not by a long way) but is a very good effort for an Alliance club and is better than some in the ANL. Stan Gate must be a busy man!
Adam Johnston was missing as he was at a wedding (why do people get married in the football season?) with Lee Kerr starting in his place.
Bay started strongly with David Turner breaking down the left but overhitting the ball just as he was about to cross. Lee Kerr did well to set up Steve Leadbitter but with Paul Thompson unmarked in the centre his cross was poor and the chance was lost.
The home side threatened with Tony Thompson getting into a promising position before he was foiled by a combination of Terry Burke and Brian Rowe. Walker kept going and John Percival did well to create some space for himself on the edge of the box with a clever turn only to fire his shot straight at Burke.
Whitley took the lead after 16 minutes when Lee Bell was played in down the left and his low cross was turned home by Leon Ryan for his first goal of the season.
Moments later Kerr looked as though he was about to double Bay’s lead but the ball bobbled just as he was about to shoot so he quickly had to readjust but his attempted lob was easily collected by Steve Wilson.
Walker were by no means out of it and John Scott fired wide from a good position at the other end.
With half an hour gone there wasn’t much to choose between the sides and the pitch was starting to cut up with players having difficulty keeping their feet.
Kerr again came close when he latched onto a poor clearance from Wilson, but although his low shot beat the keeper it also cleared the far post too. Walker equalised right on half time when Tony Thompson was allowed to waltz through the home defence before cutting in from the right and his well placed shot gave Burke no chance.
With Ian Chandler away watching F.A Vase opponents Thackley it was left to Terry Burke and Steve Cuggy to throw the teacups around (only joking lads!) and Bay started off the second half well.
Kerr nearly played Paul Thompson in with a great crossfield pass but the ball was just too far in front on the Bay forward allowing the Walker defence to clear. However, they only succeeded in giving the ball back to Kerr who decided he would have a go on his own. He ran at the Walker defence before cutting in from almost the identical spot as Tony Thompson had in the first half for Walker before shooting low into the bottom corner giving Wilson no chance.
So 2-1 to Whitley after 53 minutes and Bay had a good spell where they imposed themselves on the game with Leadbitter firing just wide from Rowe’s cross and then Kerr coming close to getting his second after swivelling in the box but firing just past the post.
Paul Thompson nearly set up Leon Ryan with some good hold up play and a Walker foot just got to the ball as Bay’s centre half looked as though he was about to break clear with the ball.
Walker had a chance when Paul Mills had possession in a good position on the right edge of the Bay box but he could only loop the ball into the arms of Burke while at the other end Cuggy powered Paul Thompson’s cross just wide, and then Thompson couldn’t make the most of a great cross from Peter Kirkham.
It seemed as though Bay would be made to pay for their missed chances when Walker sub Craig Pleasant was put through one on one with Burke with three minutes remaining but the Whitley keeper was down quickly to collect block the shot and hold the ball.
Bay were finding plenty of space still and in stoppage time David Turner fired just wide and both Leadbitter and Bell wasted good chances when trying to pass the ball and create the “perfect goal”, when on such a surface it may have been better to try a shot when the chance arose.
However, when the final whistle went Bay were through to the quarter finals and against spirited opponents on a difficult surface there can be no real complaints.