Saturday 26th January
A stoppage time goal for visitors Sunderland RCA denied Whitley a point on an emotional afternoon on North Tyneside. Both Whitley and their local rivals North Shields paid tribute to Robbie Livermore who played a total of more than 300 games for the two clubs, and tragically passed away just over a week earlier. There was a minute of applause at both grounds ahead the games, with numerous tributes paid before kick off to the hugely popular midfielder.
In front of by far the biggest Northern League crowd of the day, two players were handed their Bay debuts for this game, midfielder Dan White who signed on loan from South Shields during the week, and 18 year old Reserve team keeper Ross Logan. Meanwhile Callum Anderson and Luke Salmon were both unavailable.
The pattern for the first half was one of the visitors having the greater share of possession and launching a series of attacks on the Bay goal but being repelled by a well organised defence, while Whitley were repeatedly being caught offside when they broke forward.
In the first real attempt on goal, RCA defender Jordan Lavery wasted his opportunity, blazing a shot out of the ground then Ibby Hassan made a vital interception to deny Nathan O’Neill after the visiting striker had latched onto a long ball out of defence. Midway through the half, Logan made a brave block, diving at the feet of Colin Larkin.
Whitley were making little impact in attack and the only attempt of note came from Craig McFarlane but his effort was off target. The visitors had the ball in the Whitley net shortly afterwards but an offside flag had been raised and O’Neill’s effort was ruled out. Logan did not seem to be showing any sign of nerves and six minutes before the interval the youngster made another important save, diverting a shot from Davis onto his far post and away from danger. Just before the half time whistle, RCA almost took the lead when O’Neill’s header beat Logan but crashed off the post and away from goal.
After the interval the pattern changed with Whitley being more adventurous and effective in attack. Seven minutes after the resumption, they were rewarded when Peter Glen-Ravenhill’s right wing corner was flicked on by Olly Martin. The ball clipped the bar before rebounding back into play and from a tight angle Andrei Ardelean slotted the ball home at the far post to give Whitley the lead.
Having looked the more likely to score in the first half, the Ryhope side must have felt aggrieved and they responded in the best possible way, equalising after just 90 seconds. Davison had an attempt saved by Logan but the ball rebounded to the striker and he played it to Davis who fired home from 10 yards.
Luke Taylor made a vital clearance four minutes later then following a well judged cross field pass, Davis saw a powerful shot blocked by Logan as Whitley came under pressure.
The rain which had started falling at the interval was becoming heavier and the ball was zipping across the surface more quickly. In the 63rd minute, Whitley rapidly broke from defence when a long ball from McFarlane reached Wright who in turn played it wide into space down the right. Running onto the ball, Glen-Ravenhill advanced to edge of the box before delivering a superb shot over keeper Pocklington into the net to restore Whitley’s lead.
RCA battled back but were being thwarted by disciplined defending with Taylor particularly impressive.
The visitors were not to be denied though, and they drew level for the second time when a fast break from defence by Page set up Larkin whose ball across goal was converted by Davison.
Into the final 15 minutes Whitley had a chance when Glen-Ravenhill crossed from the right but Ardelean shot wide of goal.
Swansbury was denied by a goal line clearance from McFarlane and it looked as if the points would be shared but then in the third minute of stoppage time, McAloon crossed into the box and Larkin got his head to the ball knocking it back across Logan and into the net for a dramatic late winner. The visitors may have felt that they deserved victory on the basis of chances created but Whitley will feel hard done by after a hard fought game in which they twice took the lead.
Coincidentally, the final score was the same when the sides met at Ryhope in October, and in that game RCA also came from 2-1 down to claim victory.
WHITLEY BAY: Logan, McFarlane, Walton, Christensen, Hassan, Taylor, Glen-Ravenhill, R Redford(Carr 83mins), Ardelean, Wright, Martin
Substitutes not used: Brannen, Caines, Ramsey, Cooper
Caution: Ardelean
Referee: Jonny Urwin
Attendance: 322

h2o Bathrooms Man of the match: Luke Taylor