WHITLEY BAY 1 ASHINGTON 0
Friday 7th April
Biggest attendance of the season sees Whitley Bay complete the double against fellow high-flyers Ashington AFC.
By Harry Salkeld
After a week without a win, the Bay were back at Hillheads Park looking to revitalise their fortunes. Their opponents, Ashington, have been one of the best teams in the league this season. They came into this game in 2nd place following a 1-0 win against Pickering Town.
Fans in blue and white were hoping for a similar outcome to the game at Woodhorn Lane, on Boxing Day, where the Bay gained a 2-1 victory.
No changes were made to the starting eleven that gained a valiant 0-0 draw at Whickham in midweek. Ryan Barrett made a return to the match day squad. He started on the bench.
The Bay created the first attack of the game when Josh Gilchrist played a pass to Elliott Day whose cross looped out for a goal-kick. The Colliers created their first chance of the game when Lewis Suddick’s shot was blocked by Scott Lowery.
The first five minutes of the game illustrated that this wasn’t going to be a one-sided affair. It started off as end-to-end football and that would continue to as the game developed.
Dan Lister was called into action when he denied Daniel Maguire from the edge of the box.
The Bay won their first free kick of the game in the 11th minute after a driving run by Elliott Day. Stephen Turnbull whipped in a great cross which was met by Mark Davison but his header was deflected out for a corner. Mark Davison had another chance in the air but he glided the ball wide of the post.
Scott Lowery denied the Ashington forward line once again, as he defiantly blocked Daniel Maguire’s shot, to send the home fans into rapture.
The Colliers had their first free kick in the 24th minute, resulting in a Lewis Suddick effort veering just wide of the near post.
Josh Gilchrist received a booking in the 26th minute and Ben Richardson received one ten minutes later for halting a counterattack.
In the 37th minute, Davison headed wide after Bailey Geliher swung in a great delivery. The momentum was building for the Bay. To capitalise, the Bay took their intensity up a notch in the dying minutes of the half. They were winning corner after corner, knocking on the door of Karl Dryden’s goal and asking sterner questions of the defence.
Despite the Bay applying vigorous pressure, the deadlock still hadn’t been broken. To the frustration of the home fans, the Colliers always had six or seven men behind the ball, making it really tough for the Bay to make the breakthrough.
Seconds before the half time break, the Bay cracked the enigma code to breaking down the Colliers defence. Ben Richardson swung in a majestic ball into the box which was gracefully greeted and glided into the bottom left corner by Elliott Day. The goal evoked delirious joy and an audible sigh of relief swept through Hillheads.
Once the game resumed, the whistle was blown for a half time. What a brilliant time to score to literally pop the oppositions bubble!
After the interval, Ashington started applying more pressure on the Bay defence which is something they didn’t do very often in the first half.
Josh Gilchrist was denied by Karl Dryden in the 48th minute after he tried to score with the outside of his boot from distance. The Bay continued the pressure and in the 51st minute they nearly doubled their advantage. Davison played a ball to Gilchrist at the edge of the box. He drilled his shot towards the bottom left corner but to the amazement of everybody in Hillheads Park, Karl Dryden denied the effort with a strong right hand, pushing it wide for a corner.
The away side made the first change of the game, Adam Johnson came on for Lewis Suddick. In the 61st minute, Dan Lister saved Craig Spooner’s free kick to keep the score-line at 1-0.
Josh Gilchrist continued to create chances, due to great link up play and dribbling at pace. As well as this his energy and frenetic pressing gave the Colliers a headache whenever they were attempting to build from the back. In the 68th minute, his shot zipped diagonally across the goal without troubling the keeper.
In the 70th minute, Dan Lister denied Daniel Maguire’s effort at goal and then the rebound was sent out of the ground by Adam Johnson.
Minutes later, Dan Lister saved Scott Heslop’s shot. Lister was doing all he could to keep the Bay’s fragile lead.
In the 80th minute, Benjamin Sampson was booked for excessive protestations as he felt aggrieved that his side didn’t get a penalty for a trip in the box. His anguish was magnified however when he took the walk of shame to the sinbin after the referee took great displeasure for him remonstrating too aggressively. In the same minute, Ben Richardson made way for Noah Millington.
In the 82nd minute, Davison had a shot which was sent agonisingly wide of the post after great play by Millington to create the opportunity. A minute later, Ryan Barrett came on for Josh Gilchrist. Gilchrist received a standing ovation for how well he had played.
In the 84th minute, the Bay increased the pressure once again. Bailey Geliher’s shot was saved by Karl Dryden. Time was ticking and the Bay bravely looked to double their lead. Unfortunately this was to no avail and the home crowd prayed for the final whistle.
With minutes left on the clock, Turnbull had a shot blocked and the ball went out for a corner. In the 91st minute, goal-scorer, Elliott Day made way for Jackson Ward.
The full-time whistle was met with relief, jubilation and an eruption of applause by those in blue and white. The Bay had completed the double over Ashington!
The lads put in a fantastic performance; they made it so difficult for their opponents. They controlled the midfield throughout the game and that is a huge credit to Richardson and Turnbull whose engines never ran out of fuel. Lister commanded his area, batting away attacks with a forceful punch and strong hand. His defence was sound throughout the game to keep another clean sheet!
Ben Richardson received the Man of the Match award from our mascots, Theodore, Olivia and their mother Becky Brough.
Today’s game was our highest attendance in all competitions this season. A huge thank you to all the fans who came to watch an enthralling encounter between two high-quality sides.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Neary, Day(Ward 90+1mins), Turnbull, Hall, Lowery, Gilchrist( Barrett 83mins), Richardson(Millington 80mins), Davison, Geliher, Porritt
Cautions: Gilchrist and Richardson
Referee: David Mitchell
Assistant Referees: Francis Malton and Matthew Harwood