Saturday 8th February
For the second time this season, Whitley shared the points with Thornaby but this was a game that they dominated for lengthy spells and should have won, but once again their finishing let them down.
With Scott Lowery unavailable, Callum Anderson reverted from midfield to central defence and there was a full debut for Andre Bennett, who came off the bench to score at Consett in the League Cup.
After a quiet opening period, the first attempt on goal came Whitley’s way in the 14th minute when from ten yards out, Marcus Giles directed a low shot towards the bottom corner of the net but it lacked sufficient power to beat the dive of keeper James Dawson who got his fingers to the ball and pushed it wide.
Two minutes later Thornaby took the lead with their first shot on goal, slack defending inside the 18 yard box allowing James Rowe to slot the ball inside the near post. The next incident of note came after 35 minutes when Giles, attacking from midfield, played the ball wide to Luke Salmon on the left edge of the penalty area but his shot clipped the outside of the post and the ball went out of play. Three minutes before the interval, Whitley drew level when James Fairley, out on the Bay right played the ball over the top for Giles. The young striker ran clear of the Thornaby defence before coolly lobbing the ball over Dawson and into the net from just outside the right edge of the box. It was a well taken goal and things nearly got even better for Whitley on the stroke of half time when a cross from the left caused difficulty for the visitors defence and Craig McFarlane put his shot narrowly wide of the target.
Nine minutes after the restart, Giles played McFarlane through but the skipper’s shot across goal went beyond the far post. Fairley then ran on to a through ball from Giles but Dawson pounced on it just in time.
What could have been the turning point of the game came in the 64th minute when substitute Connor Smith cleverly weaved his through the Thornaby defence going past the keeper and defenders and seemed certain to score but delayed his shot and when the ball fell for Craig McFarlane, his fiercely struck close range shot crashed off the bar.
Further chances came and went as Whitley dominated proceedings but spurned several more opportunities to seal a crucial victory. Their final opportunity came in the 90th minute when Fairley’s goalbound shot was blocked by Dawson.
While the point ended Whitley’s losing sequence since Christmas, they could and should have taken all three.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Bexton, Martin, Bennett, Anderson, Taylor, Fairley, Orrell, McFarlane(Shepherd 70mins), Giles, Salmon(Smith 55mins)
Substitutes not used; Colquhoun, Davison, Martindale
Cautions: Bexton, Bennett
Referee: Graeme Hopper
Attendance: 343
h2o Bathrooms Man of the Match : Marcus Giles