Wednesday 4th September
Whitley returned home from Guisborough empty handed but they can count themselves extremely unlucky not to have earned at least a point having matched the in-form Priorymen throughout and creating much the better of the chances especially in the second half.
It was no surprise that Town’s Ryan Catterick was named man of the match after the on-loan keeper from Hartlepool pulled off a series of fine saves to thwart Whitley’s attempts to break through a resolute home defence which has conceded just three goals in six league games this season.
Whitley handed a debut to Steven Hubery, newly signed from Northallerton, and the experienced goalkeeper, previously with Hebburn and South Shields gave a confident display and could do nothing about the only goal of the game.
Starting brightly, Whitley created three chances in the first five minutes. A foul on captain Craig McFarlane some 25 yards from goal gave Lee Kerr an opportunity but his free kick flashed narrowly wide of the target. Barely 60 seconds later, McFarlane had a shot saved by Catterick before Tom Bott glanced a cross from the right just inches over the bar.
Guisborough then came more into the game and in the twelfth minute, referee Chris Ellis awarded the hosts a penalty for no obvious reason, but after lengthy discussions with his assistant, he changed his decision and awarded Whitley a goal kick.
The game was being played at a rapid pace but the next real attempt on goal came in the 26th minute when Kerr, attacking from midfield, powered a shot just over the bar. Play quickly swung to the other end and in a goalmouth scramble, an attempted clearance by Tom Graham ricocheted off Callum Anderson and over the line to give the Priorymen a somewhat fortuitous lead.
Whitley responded well and following a left wing corner, the ball fell for Lewis Orrell whose attempt on goal was blocked by the quick reactions of Catterick. Another attack down the slope by the hosts led to a scramble in the Bay box with Hubery blocking a close range shot at the expense of a corner.
One minute before the interval, Whitley came their closest yet to a goal when Tom Bott’s strike from ten yards looked a certain equaliser until it was superbly palmed round the post by Catterick at full stretch.
As in the first half, Whitley began the second period very much on the front foot and in the 51st minute, Orrell was played through on goal but was denied by a fine low save from Catterick. Five minutes later, a foul on Mark Robinson resulted in a free kick from Kerr. The ball was played into the six yard box and looked to be threatening the home goal before being cleared to safety. Guisborough might have doubled their lead just before the hour mark when a deep cross from the right by Crust crashed off the post and into the grateful arms of Hubery.
A thoroughly entertaining game continued at a rapid pace with both sides playing neat, one touch football but neither was able to break down well disciplined defences. A great run down the left by McFarlane looked promising for Whitley when the skipper played the ball into the box but Robinson’s shot failed to beat the keeper.
Five minutes from time, substitute Brad Hird had a shot pushed away by Catterick as Whitley continued to press forward but the home side held on to deny Nathan Haslam’s side a share of the spoils.
There was not a weak link in the Bay side, every one of whom gave their all. If they can produce this type of performance on a regular basis, they should soon climb the table.
WHITLEY BAY: Hubery, Bexton , Salmon(Hird 84mins), Kerr, Anderson, Graham, Orrell(Stephenson 79mins), Bott, Smith, Robinson, McFarlane
Substitutes not used: Taylor, Lister, Colquhoun
Referee: Chris Ellis
Cautions: Salmon, Graham
Attendance: 301