|Northumberland Senior Cup Semi-Final||n/k|
|Tuesday 8th March 2005||Ashington V Whitley Bay||3-4|
Match Report By Peter Fox
Bay made it into the final of the Senior Cup for the second time in three years after a pulsating game and in typical Bay fashion they put their fans through purgatory after looking to have wrapped the game up early in the second half.
With Paddy Little out injured, Neil Shotton came in to the starting line up as did David Turner in place of Andy Fairlamb. Ben Ryan started in place of Wayne Phillips.
Ashington as expected went at Bay from the off and Terry Burke did well to collect a low right wing cross under pressure from Ashington forwards but Bay came back and a Ben Ryan through ball led to both Adam Johnston and David Coulson having efforts blocked.
Ashington should have broken the deadlock when a long free kick found Ross Atkinson unmarked at the far post but he fired over with the goal at his mercy, and the hosts continued to press, forcing a couple of corners which the Bay defence dealt with comfortably.
Whitley went ahead after 17 minutes when Ben Ryan set Chris Moore away and although his first touch (and the pitch!) seemed to have taken him a little too wide, the Bay striker hit a perfectly placed low shot across Andy Clark into the corner of the net.
Bay pushed forward and doubled their advantage nine minutes later when Adam Johnston controlled the ball with his back to goal turned and wriggled free of a couple of challenges before slamming the ball past Clark from twelve yards.
Ashington stormed back and reduced the arrears after 34 minutes when Ross Atkinson got on the end of a long free kick and smashed it past Burke, almost an action reply of his earlier missed opportunity.
It looked as though Bay would go in at half time one goal up but right on half time Ben Ryan cut in from the left and outpaced the home to defence to shoot low past Clarke to restore Whitley’s two goal advantage. He celebrated with a Klinsmenesque dive right in front of the more vocal section of the home support who had already been giving Ryan some stick, and this guaranteed he got some more!
Whitley looked to have sealed the game after 55 minutes when Johnston got in between Clark and a defender to flick a long ball into the goal to make it 1 -4 and the travelling fans settled down to enjoy a comfortable passage into the final. We should have known better!
Ashington hit back four minutes later with Paul Hogg netting from close range to make it 2-4 and although Johnston came close to grabbing his hat-trick it was the home side who were building up a head of steam and former Bay player Jon Sunderland blasted over from 2-0 yards. Bay were still creating opportunities and Lee Bell had a 20-yarder collected by Clark and the Marc Walmsley was only kept out by the combined efforts of Clark and his defenders from a Ben Ryan cross.
With fifteen minutes to go Ashington made it 3-4 and ensured a frantic finale when Atkinson headed home a long throw from another ex Bay man, Lee Picton, from the right. Ashington piled forward in search of an equaliser and their golden opportunity came two minutes from time when he ball fell kindly to Atkinson eight yards out but he pulled his shot wide, and Bay were in the final.
Bay: Burke, Shotton, Walmsley, Rowe, L.Ryan, Coulson, Bell (Evans), Turner (Leadbitter), Johnston, B.Ryan (Kerr), Moore