BISHOP AUCKLAND 3 WHITLEY BAY 0
Saturday 4th March
A fortuitous goal scored deep into first half stoppage time set Bishop Auckland on their way to a victory which enhances their promotion chances while denting Whitley’s hopes.
This game between third and fourth in the table had all the makings of a close contest and for the first hour that is how it turned out but once the hosts scored their second goal they looked in control and ran out deserved winners.
Whitley had Dan Lister back in goal but Scott Lowery was unavailable, while four former Bay players were named in the Bishop Auckland squad.
In the early exchanges Bishops had a chance in the second minute following a corner but the shot flew wide. For Whitley, a good attacking run down the left by Elliott Day ended with Mark Davison poking a first time effort a yard wide of the far post.
With 15 minutes on the clock, the hosts thought they had taken the lead with a close range finish but an offside flag had been raise, cutting the celebrations short. Three minutes later Lister had to be alert to push a powerful attempt wide of his near post. Moments later the home side went close with a header that flew over the bar.
Another attack by Day down the left wing looked threatening as he closed in on goal but he delayed his shot and his effort was blocked. Mark Davison was almost clear on goal when he was penalised for an infringement on the edge of the box.
Both sides were producing good approach work without seriously testing either keeper and when Ben Richardson had a shot comfortably saved by Catterick it looked as if an evenly contested first half would end goal less.
However, in the fourth minute of stoppage time former Whitley striker Marcus Giles received the ball on the edge of the box and his shot took a big deflection off a Bay defender’s foot, completely deceiving Lister as it flew into the opposite corner of the net. Seconds later the half time whistle was blown and it was a frustrated Whitley side who left the field a goal down.
On the restart, Whitley fought to get back on level terms but struggled to break down a well organised home defence. A ball played across the face of goal by Porritt was palmed out then grasped by Catterick while substitute Jackson Ward did well to push the hosts back but his cross into the box was cut out.
A well executed finish midway through the half put Bishops firmly in control of the game. Seeing his opportunity on left edge of the box, Louis Johnson’s curling shot beat the dive of Lister as it crept just inside the far post.
There seemed no way back now for Whitley and ten minutes later a third goal sealed the victory after substitute Callum Patton burst clear on the right of the box. Lister raced out to close him down but Patton squared the ball to the unmarked Dean Thexton who slotted home despite Lister’s desperate attempt to keep it out.
In the closing stages substitute Noah Millington twice went close to getting a consolation goal for Whitley but his first attempt was finger tipped wide by Catterick while his second was saved by the keeper.
In the other top of the table game, Newton Aycliffe moved further clear with a 4-1 victory over Ashington. With nine games still to play and all the top four having been beaten in the past week, Whitley are not out of contention but cannot afford many more slip ups.
WHITLEY BAY Lister, Patterson(Ward 30mins), Day(Millington 68mins), Turnbull, Hall, Hutchinson, Neary, Richardson, Davison, Gilchrist(Morien 74mins), Porritt
Substitutes not used: Geliher, Young
Cautions: Day, Davison
Referee: Kieran Graham