Bay fightback in vain as Boro snatch late victory


Saturday 16th March

Match report by Julian Tyley 

In a game of seven goals including two penalties, where fortunes flowed first one way then the other, Whitley suffered the disappointment of conceding the deciding goal five minutes from time.

In the first ever meeting of the two sides, Whitley travelled to Phoenix Park, a new 3G playing surface at Trinity Catholic College on the south side of Middlesbrough which has been the home of Boro Rangers since last autumn.

The hosts were promoted as Division Two champions last season and began the game in 8th place, one below Whitley, so a close contest was expected.

The home side started the brighter, creating several chances in the opening stages and had the ball in the net after seven minutes but the assistant had already signalled for offside.

Whitley went close two minutes later following a free kick when the ball looped high above keeper Daniel Horner and landed on the roof of the net.

Another free kick awarded for a foul 25 yards from goal was well struck by Gilchrist but the keeper saved comfortably.

At the midpoint of the half Lewis Suddick tried his luck with a shot from distance but it was narrowly off target.

Just past the half hour, Gilchrist was tripped by Rangers skipper Steven Keenan just inside the right edge of the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Suddick sent Horner the wrong way from the spot to give Whitley a 32nd minute lead.

Unfortunately from a Bay point of view, the advantage was short-lived as just four minutes later Rangers were also awarded a penalty for a trip in the box and Stuart Rose levelled the score with a well taken spot kick.

Slack Bay defending three minutes before the interval was punished by the home side with Rose setting up Lofts who beat Pickering to turn the game around, and Rangers retained their 2-1 advantage at the interval.

The game had got underway in bright sunshine but conditions had taken a turn for the worse by the resumption with light rain setting in.

Five minutes after the restart, a ball into the goalmouth was palmed clear by Pickering but worse was to follow in the 54th minute when the Bay defence was cut open and Rose slotted home his second goal of the game.

Liam McIvor immediately made a triple substitution, bringing on Jamie Holmes, Jos Storr and Bailey Geliher in an effort to revive Whitley’s fortunes.

The impact was almost immediate as in the 58th minute Storr sent in a swerving ball from the right of the box which seemed to deceive Horner who remained rooted to the spot as it flew past him and into the net.

It was now a more entertaining contest with attempts coming at both ends. The dangerous Rose fired just wide for Rangers while at the other end Storr and Holmes combined well but the final shot was saved low down by Horner.

New signing Lewis Ritson, who was making his debut at centre back, came up for a corner and sent a header just wide with 20 minutes remaining. Whitley were battling back strongly with renewed energy, forcing the home side onto the back foot and with eight minutes remaining, Storr latched onto a through ball that cleared the home defence. Running clear he calmly slotted it past Horner to draw Whitley level at 3-3.

With time running out, Wetherald brought a great save from Pickering before back at the other end, Holmes saw his goalbound effort deflected inches wide of the Rangers goal. At this stage Whitley were looking the more likely to snatch a winner but it was the hosts who sealed victory with five minutes left, when Rose delivered a cross to the left side of the box and Pickering was caught out as Hickman got his head to the ball and sent it looping over the keeper and just under the bar.

A close range effort was well blocked by Pickering in the closing moments and despite their best efforts, Whitley ran out of time to find another equaliser, with defensive errors proving costly.

Match photos:

WHITLEY BAY; Pickering, F Neary (Law 90mins), Day, Ellison, Ritson(Hall 74mins), Almond, McGeorge(Storr 56mins), H Neary, Gilchrist(Holmes 56mins), Brewis (Geliher 56mins), Suddick

Cautions: None

Referee: Harvey Websdale

Attendance: 101

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