WEST AUCKLAND TOWN 2 WHITLEY BAY 1
Saturday 18th November
Whitley suffered a narrow defeat in a hard fought game at West Auckland. They conceded early in each half but finished much the stronger side and the hosts must have been relieved to hear the final whistle. It was an afternoon of frustration for Whitley with many of their disappointed fans feeling that their side deserved at least a point from the game.
Goalkeeper Harrison Bond returned from injury while Andrew Cartwright was back in the starting eleven following suspension.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Whitley got off to the worst possible start, going a goal down after just 100 seconds.
From a West Auckland attack, Bond made a good diving save from Harrison, pushing the ball away from goal but it was not fully cleared and reached Charlie Wood just inside the box. His shot on target looked to be covered by Bond but the ball took a big deflection and wrong footed the keeper, creeping just inside the post.
After this setback Whitley struggled to get into the game and the hosts were looking much the better side in the early stages. A ball into the box by Nicholson was cut out ahead of Scott before another home attack ended with the ball flying out of the ground.
Gradually, Whitley worked their way into the game as they gained a greater share of possession. However West remained a real threat and in the 17th minute, Bond made an excellent block to deny Scott after he had been played clear on goal.
A right wing corner for the Bay caused confusion in the West Auckland box before the ball was scrambled away from the goal line then from another corner kick, Elliott Day’s powerful shot was blocked.
In the 36th minute, Jos Storr saw his shot parried by Liversedge with a defender putting the loose ball behind for a corner which came to nothing.
Hume down at the other end drove a shot well wide of target then almost on the half time whistle, Storr headed wide of the back post from a cross by Cartwright.
Whitley began the second half brightly, looking to get back on level terms. Cameron Brewis had a shot saved low down by Liversedge then Paddy Almond made a strong run through the Auckland midfield before unleashing a shot that was a yard off target.
On the counter attack, Nicholson was played through on goal but Bond did well to block his effort. The corner that followed was played in from the right and Scott leapt above the Bay defence to head home off the underside of the bar, doubling the lead and putting West Auckland firmly in control.
Whitley responded well and moments later a shot on target was deflected behind off a home defender.
A triple substitution just past the hour mark provided Whitley with fresh legs, crucial on the heavy playing surface. Scott Lowery, Jamie Holmes and Bailey Geliher were brought on in place of Brewis, Richardson and Davison.
A fourth change with just under 20 minutes to go saw Josh Gilchrist introduced and within three minutes he brought Whitley back into the game.
The game was now being played largely inside the Auckland half and when the ball reached Gilchrist on the left edge of the box, his inch perfect shot beat the dive of Liversedge and flew across goal and into the bottom corner of the net.
With just one goal in it, there was everything to play for and urged on by their vociferous fans Whitley piled on the pressure. A challenge near the halfway line when the hosts tried to break away led to a melee with players piling in. The referee had been lenient up to this point, probably too much so, but after consultation with his assistant, showed one player on each side a yellow card.
Frustration boiled over moments later when Lowery reacted after a foul and was sin binned, a decision that the referee quickly changed to a red card. Comments from the bench by Liam McIvor then saw the Bay assistant manager also sent off.
The referee appeared to be losing control of the game and West Auckland substitute Liam Hegarty was shown two yellow cards in rapid succession leading to another dismissal.
With the game now ten a side, tempers calmed and Whitley pressed forward again, desperately searching for an equaliser. Solid defending and an element of good fortune saw several attacks repelled then in the second minute of stoppage time Harvey Neary almost rescued a point but his shot was pushed wide for a corner.
Had Whitley pressed forward with the same attacking intent earlier in the game, there would surely have been a different outcome but they ran out of time and ended up with nothing to show for their efforts.
WHITLEY BAY: Bond, Cartwright(Gilchrist 72mins) Day, Turnbull, Almond, Richardson (Holmes 63mins), Suddick, Neary, Davison(Geliher 63mins), Brewis (Lowery 63mins), Storr
Substitute not used: Pickering
Cautions: Richardson, Holmes, Sent off Lowery
Referee: Ryan Moore