Saturday 24th November
Whitley surrendered a two goal lead against ten man Whickham and in a dramatic climax to an action packed game, they missed a stoppage time penalty which would have earned them a point. In fairness to Whickham they deserved the victory for their battling second half performance when it looked as if Whitley were the side with one man short.
Callum Anderson missed out through illness but Peter Glen-Ravenhill was recalled to the starting eleven following suspension.
In the third minute Lewis Suddick played a ball down the line to Glen-Ravenhill whose shot was blocked by former Bay keeper Dan Lister. Both sides were creating openings and when Luke Salmon played the ball through to Kieran Brannen, the youngster was only denied by an offside flag. Almost immediately Tom Flynn made a low save to keep out an effort from Andrew Bulford. In the 23rd minute Glen-Ravenhill broke through on goal but was tugged to the ground by Matthew Grieve as he burst into the box. After consulting his assistant, referee Jack Gordon awarded a penalty and showed Grieve a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. Vigorous protests followed from the Whickham players but when calm was restored, Gavin Caines slotted home the penalty to give Whitley the lead. Three minutes later Brannen then had a chance to double the lead but his shot went inches past the post. The home side were losing their discipline and captain Ross Peareth was booked a few minutes later for a poor challenge. Lewis Suddick capitalised on the situation in the 33rd minute when he curled an excellent shot from the edge of the box beyond Lister into the far corner of the net. It was his first goal since joining the club and it appeared to be putting Whitley on the road to a comfortable victory.
However, Whickham reduced the arrears in the 36th minute following the first of a series of errors in the Bay rearguard. Dale Burrell was allowed space inside the box and calmly stroked the ball past Flynn. The goal lifted the hosts but Whitley could have restored their two goal lead soon afterwards when Brannen played the ball to Glen-Ravenhill whose poked effort towards the corner of the net was grabbed by Lister and kept out. Moments later, Bulford was booked for a trip inside the Bay half but he redeemed himself two minutes before the interval when Flynn raced out of goal and headed the ball away from just outside the 18 yard box. The ball fell for Bulford whose neat lob shot hit the underside of the bar on its way into the net, to leave the sides level at the break.
Seven minutes after the restart, Whitley gave the ball away and allowed Damien Stevens to race away down the right before firing a low shot beyond Flynn and into the far corner. Stevens was looking a real threat now and five minutes later his attempt was not far off target. Kieran Brannen, whose pace on the ball had been a threat for Whitley was rather unfortunate to be substituted, Andrei Ardelean taking his place. Just past the midway stage of the half, Whitley had a chance to snatch an equaliser but Suddick and Ramsey both went for the ball and the chance went begging.
The home side were battling for every ball, showing real determination but their discipline let them down again when Stevens became the latest Whickham player to receive a caution when he kicked the ball away to delay a Whitley free kick.
With 15 minutes remaining, a calamitous mistake at the back by Whitley saw an unmarked Stevens gifted the ball some 40 yards out. Making the most of his opportunity, he closed in on goal and left Flynn helpless as he placed the ball just inside the right hand post.
Two goals behind, it was looking bleak for Whitley but they pushed forward and Lister made a good save from Glen-Ravenhill. Substitute Kevin Carr then played in Ardelean whose shot from a tight angle bulged the side netting. Jack Cooper then went close, his cross from wide on the left eluding everyone as it flew across the face of goal and drifting inches past the far post with Lister static.
Whitley gained a glimmer of hope four minutes from time when Ardelean’s glancing header from Suddick’s corner found the net to make it 4-3.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Whitley were awarded a second penalty when Caines tumbled inside the box, with the referee close at hand, immediately awarding a spot kick. Once again there were mass and rather unseemly protests from the Whickham players but this time, the normally assured Caines crashed the penalty kick against the bar and Whitley’s chance of grabbing a point disappeared.
WHITLEY BAY: Flynn, McFarlane, Cooper, Richardson, Caines, Christensen, Suddick, Glen-Ravenhill(Carr 81mins) , Ramsey(Taggart 73mins), Brannen(Ardelean 56mins), Salmon
Substitutes not used: Hassan, Walton
Cautions: None
Referee: Jack Gordon
Attendance: 197