WHITLEY BAY 4 PENRITH 0
Saturday 17th November
Two goals in the first half hour put Whitley firmly in control of this game against bottom of the table Penrith and a further two from substitute Andrei Ardelean in the final five minutes of the game emphasised their superiority as they recorded a comfortable and well deserved victory.
Two of Whitley’s youngest junior teams were the mascots for this game. They gave superb support throughout the afternoon and hopefully some of them will progress through the age groups to reach the senior side in the years to come. Among several changes to the starting line up, Andy Gowens included former Ashington defender Ben Christensen for only his second start in Bay colours, while Lewis Walton and Stephen Ramsey both returned to the side, while Peter Glen-Ravenhill missed out through suspension.
In the fifth minute of the game Ramsey was involved in Whitley’s first chance, playing a good ball out to Kieran Brannen on the left but the youngster’s ball into the box flew narrowly wide of the back post. In the 11th minute, Luke Salmon was pushed to the ground after Walton’s ball from the right came into the box and Whitley were awarded a penalty. Captain on the day Gavin Caines confidently converted the spot kick, giving Penrith keeper Tom Fowler no chance.
Keeping up the pressure, Brannen had a shot saved by Fowler three minutes later then in the 16th minute the promising teenager played the ball wide to Lewis Suddick who crossed back into the goalmouth where Ramsey’s downward header beat Fowler but bounced back up just over the bar.
Whitley were constantly posing problems for the Cumbrians and when Walton raced away down the left, he cut in and struck a fierce shot that Fowler pushed wide. Ramsey seized on the loose ball and played it back across goal where Luke Salmon drilled it into the net to put Whitley two goals ahead with just 26 minutes on the clock.
Brannen continued to threaten the Penrith defence with his pace and on the half hour he brought another save. Two minutes later he cut the ball back from near the by-line and Ramsey was unlucky to see his close range shot rebound off a defender and away from goal.
The visitors briefly came more into the game as the half drew to a close, Adam Main seeing a shot blocked by Flynn while Robbie Hebson shot wide from a corner, but at the interval, Whitley retained their two goal advantage.
Whitley continued in the ascendency after the break, Lewis Walton beginning to pose a real threat down the left flank. Ten minutes into the half Jack Cooper received the ball from Walton and brought an excellent save from Fowler, who pushed his shot over the bar. Fowler then showed bravery when claiming the ball just ahead of the onrushing Salmon.
Whitley were creating a series of openings as their pace saw them cut through the Penrith defence but the final ball was letting them down. Cooper, Walton, Salmon and Brannen might all have added to Whitley’s lead but the overworked Fowler was keeping his side in with a slim chance. However, the visitors were creating little and Tom Flynn was rarely tested, a save from Connor Shields inside the last ten minutes being comfortably dealt with by the Bay keeper.
Six minutes from time, a teasing cross from Walton looked as if it might dip under the bar until Fowler pushed it behind. Moments later Whitley put the result beyond any doubt when they added their third goal of the afternoon. Andrei Ardelean had only been on the pitch seven minutes when he slotted the ball home after Caines played it back into the box during a period of Bay pressure. It was all Whitley now and a third substitution quickly led to the fourth goal. Dan Taggart had just come off the bench when with only his second touch of the ball, he crossed it perfectly into the six yard box where Ardelean got above his marker and his header bulged the net to the delight of the tremendous crowd of 413 fans, an excellent turn out on ‘International break’ weekend.
A second clean sheet in consecutive home games, the previous one being in the League Cup victory over North Shields, was a pleasing outcome but perhaps a more significant feature of this contest was that Whitley retained possession better and passed the ball more accurately than in some recent games.
WHITLEY BAY: Flynn, McFarlane, Cooper, Anderson(Richardson 53mins), Caines, Christensen, Suddick, Salmon, Ramsey(Taggart 87mins), Brannen(Ardelean 78mins), Walton
Substitutes not used: R Redford, Carr
Referee: Michael Burrows