WHITLEY BAY 0 HEATON STANNINGTON 2
Saturday 15th April
This was a very disappointing display by Whitley, especially in the first half, a total contrast to the game eight days earlier when they produced an excellent performance to beat second top Ashington.
Heaton Stannington have impressed in their first season since promotion, and back in October, Whitley needed two goals in the last five minutes to claim a hard fought 2-1 victory at Grounsell Park, but this time the First Division newcomers deservedly came out on top, much to the delight of their sizeable contingent of travelling fans.
With Stephen Turnbull and Bailey Geliher suspended and Noah Millington out injured, Jackson Ward and Ryan Barrett both came into the Whitley starting eleven for the final home game of the season.
Right from the first whistle the visitors looked the better side and within thirty seconds Konner Lamb threatened the Bay goal. The pace of Lamb was causing problems for Whitley and in the seventh minute he was played clear on goal but fired narrowly wide as Lister advanced from his line. Bisset then drove the ball well wide with a first time effort after Lister had punched clear from a right wing corner.
Whitley were struggling to get into the game and it took them until the half hour to get a shot on goal but even then Harvey Neary’s attempt failed to trouble keeper Greg Purvis.
With 35 minutes played, Lamb raced away down the right and crossed into the goalmouth where Hopper saw his close range shot brilliantly pushed away at point blank range by Lister.
Whitley had a spell of possession without really threatening the Heaton goal until the 42nd minute when there was a scramble in the visitors’ goalmouth but when a free kick was given for an infringement, play quickly switched to the other end with a long ball beyond the Bay defence to Lamb whose shot across Lister went just inside the far post to give Heaton a lead that their play fully merited.
Just before the interval, Gilchrist sent a shot high over the bar but at the break Whitley could consider themselves rather fortunate to be just one goal down and still in the game.
On the restart Heaton once again looked the brighter of the sides and Lister had to be alert, making a fine save to deny Hopper a second goal for the visitors.
Malcolm Morien was brought on shortly before the hour mark to add more physical presence to the Bay attack and Whitley did begin to pose more of a threat. Neary brought a rare save from Purvis, the keeper taking the ball high above his head. Cameron Brewis, returning from injury, was then introduced for the final quarter of the game.
Into the last 20 minutes, Scott Lowery twice showed glimpses of what he has done all season, firstly delivering a dangerous cross to the back post which was scrambled behind for a corner. Then from another corner kick a few minutes, he leapt above the Heaton defence but he sent his powerful header just wide of the upright.
Back came the visitors and Whitley were forced into defence where they successfully repelled all that was thrown at them. The game was opening up with both sides attacking, Whitley in search of an equaliser and Stan looking for a second goal to put the result beyond doubt.
With the game entering six minutes of stoppage time, Ben Richardson produced Whitley’s best effort of the game, his tremendous 20 yard shot crashing off the upright with Purvis rooted to the spot. Barely a minute later Dan Lister, Whitley’s man of the match, produced another great save to deny substitute Jordan Lashley.
Then with almost the last kick of the game, Lashley slotted home a second goal for Heaton following a rapid break by fellow substitute Nick Cassidy.
It had been a better second half for Whitley but as manager Nick Gray reflected, the poor first half performance had proved decisive with Heaton Stannington much the better side and well worth the three points.
* After the final whistle, the Bay players stayed on the field to applaud and show their appreciation to the fans as they approach the end of what has been the most successful season for ten years.
Whitley will be looking for a victory at bottom of the table Thornaby in their final game of the season next Saturday. Then on Saturday 29th April the club will be holding their Presentation Night at the Seahorse Clubhouse, 5.30 for 6.00pm. All fans are welcome.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Barrett, Day(Brewis 69mins), Richardson, Hall, Lowery, Gilchrist, Neary, Davison, Ward(Morien 58mins) Porritt
Referee: Charlie Ford
Man of the match: Dan Lister