Saturday 25th January
Whitley’s run of defeats continued in North Yorkshire where a single goal in the second half of a drab game secured a vital three points for Northallerton who climbed off the bottom of the table and enhanced their prospects of survival in this their first season back in the First Division.
Wednesday evening’s disciplined defensive display at Morpeth had raised hopes of a much needed victory and a sizeable contingent of Bay fans made the 130 mile round trip, the second longest of the league season. Unfortunately they were left disappointed as a lack of fire power and poor finishing proved costly.
There were few chances at either end in a first half extended by over six minutes due to injuries which affected both sides. The first scoring opportunity came after 14 minutes when Mark Robinson curled a shot wide of the far post, then eight minutes later the hosts tried their luck but a long range effort cleared the bar.
It took a well-timed tackle by Connor Smith to deny Shaun Hudson a clear run on goal three minutes later, but there was then a lengthy delay when Bay keeper Andy Jennison needed attention for a shoulder injury. He tried to continue but was clearly in difficulty and was replaced on the half hour by Dan Lister, who had performed with huge credit at Morpeth in midweek. Almost immediately, a good run from midfield by Coleby Shepherd troubled the home defence but as he was about to burst clear, the youngster was muscled off the ball.
Lister then confidently leapt to gather a dangerous looking cross from the left wing, denying Northallerton a clear sight of goal. Whitley should have taken the lead four minutes before the interval when Marcus Giles, barely eight yards from goal, appeared to have a great chance but he hesitated slightly and two determined last ditch tackles thwarted him. The second lengthy stoppage of the half then followed with Allerton striker Hudson in obvious pain after what looked to be an innocuous challenge. He was eventually stretchered off the pitch with what appeared to be a serious injury. Into added time, a half chance came Whitley’s way when Robinson crossed into the goalmouth but the ball was cleared just as Martindale was about to pounce.
Perhaps Whitley’s best chance of the game came 13 minutes into the second half when substitute Michael Colquhoun, adding pace to the Whitley attack, played the ball across the edge of the 18 yard box and the unmarked Shepherd had a glorious chance to break the deadlock but the teenager on loan from Hartlepool blazed his shot high over the bar. Seven minutes later Smith forced keeper Tom Dawson into action, pushing the ball wide of goal.
The moment that was to decide the game arrived in the 66th minute, after Whitley conceded a corner on the Northallerton left. When the ball was played into the box, it was not properly cleared and in the scramble that ensued, Lee Brockbank poked the ball home from close range.
Understandably, Northallerton were now content to get men behind the ball and defend their lead. This they managed to do successfully as Whitley struggled to construct any real openings. A free kick into the six yard box was put wide by Luke Taylor then with just three minutes left, a shot from Smith was pushed over the bar. In a rare breakaway by the home side, Lister saved well, but right to the final whistle, the hosts battled determinedly, denying a lack lustre Bay attack the chance to force a late equaliser.
WHITLEY BAY: Jennison (Lister 29mins), Smith, Martin, Lowery, Taylor, Anderson, Shepherd, Robinson, Martindale(Colquhoun 54mins), Fairley, Giles(Orrell 60mins)
Substitutes not used: Bexton, Salmon
Caution: Taylor
Referee: Christopher Keightley
Attendance: 153