FA VASE 1st QUALIFYING ROUND
WHITLEY BAY 1 BARNOLDSWICK TOWN 2
Saturday 31st August
Whitley suffered their earliest ever exit from the FA Vase after a dismal display against North West Counties League side Barnoldswick Town. Following two good league performances, there were hopes of another successful run in the competition that they have won a record four times but this defeat means they are out of both national competitions just one month into the season.
Two new signings, Connor Smith and Mark Robinson came straight into the side while Adam Shanks, not yet at full match fitness, started on the bench.
The visitors chose to play with the strong wind at their backs and enjoyed most of the early possession but the only threat in the opening stages came after ten minutes when a long range effort drifted narrowly wide.
Whitley’s first chance came in the 16th minute when they had a glorious chance to take the lead. An attempted clearance by Town captain Shaun Airey was blocked and Brad Hird took the ball round the advancing keeper on the right edge of the 18 yard box. With the goal at his mercy but at a narrow angle, rather than closing in or squaring the ball to the unmarked Robinson, he opted to shoot and the ball went narrowly beyond the far post.
The visitors responded with sustained attacks, taking advantage of the wind and another long range attempt went just wide. In the 27th minute, Craig McFarlane made a great run from defence down the right wing before cutting in but his cross to Robinson on the edge of the six yard box was cut out.
Within a minute, the Lancashire side had taken the lead when a long ball downfield from keeper Livesey reached Zack Dale who turned his man in the box before slotting a low shot past Lister.
Six minutes later James Martin went down in the box as he closed in on goal but play was allowed to continue. A clumsy challenge on Luke Salmon then earned Barnoldswick midfielder Andrew Hill a yellow card. Lister made a good save to deny Richard Seear before Tom Bott became the second player to go in the book.
Whitley were struggling to make an impression with a poor first half display and the visitors were good value for their half time lead. However, with only one goal in it, there was still everything to play for after the interval.
On the restart, Lee Kerr was brought off the bench in place of Martin but while Whitley pushed forward and showed more purpose, they were struggling to break through a resolute defence and there was little goalmouth action.
Adam Shanks was brought on shortly before the hour mark as Whitley searched for the equaliser but a lapse in concentration was to prove costly in the 67th minute. Barnoldswick won a corner on the left and when it was played short, danger man Dale was allowed to weave his way along the by-line before unleashing a powerful shot from a narrow angle high into the net to give his side a two goal lead.
As they searched for a way back into the game, Kerr fired just wide of the target from a left wing corner before McFarlane attempted to catch Livesey out with a 30 yard shot that was only inches too high.
Another effort from Town striker Seear was well saved by Lister but then with just two minutes left, Whitley finally pulled a goal back when Shanks got on the end of a cross from Connor Smith to send a bullet header into the net. Whitley have achieved some dramatic late comebacks in the Vase in the past and it briefly looked as if it might happen again. However it was not to be and the only drama in stoppage time came when Hill received a second yellow card and was dismissed. Whitley pushed players forward but the ten men from Lancashire held out for what was a well deserved victory.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, McFarlane, Salmon, Bott(Stephenson 65mins), Anderson, Graham, Smith, Orrell, Hird(Shanks 57mins), Robinson, Martin(Kerr 46mins)
Substitutes not used: Colquhoun, Bexton
Cautions: Bott, Salmon
Referee: James Bancroft