BISHOP AUCKLAND 5 WHITLEY BAY 1
Saturday 26th August
Whitley were comprehensively beaten by a strong and confident Bishop Auckland team who scored four times in the first 38 minutes. On the evidence of this game the Two Blues look as if they will be strong candidates to claim a promotion position which they narrowly failed to achieve last season.
In marked contrast, too many Bay players performed well below their best on a day they will want to forget.
The game got underway in steady rain and the opening moments gave encouragement to Whitley as Matty Weirs was played through into the Bishops 18 yard box and he was only denied by a fine save, with Catterick keeping the ball out with his feet.
From that point on the home side took control. Inside the fourth minute a cross from Gott out on the left flew across the Bay goalmouth and Charlie Watt left Dan Lister wrong footed as he knocked the ball back across the keeper and into the net. Six minutes later the second goal came when another cross from the left into the goalmouth was poked home by Dean Thexton who slid in just ahead of the Bay defenders.
Whitley were struggling to cope with the pace of the hosts down both flanks, and their height and strength in defence and were unable to retain possession for any length of time.
They did manage to break away to the opposite end twice around the quarter hour, with Noah Millington bringing a comfortable save from Catterick while a speculative effort from Harvey Neary was well wide of the target.
Shortly after the half hour, Stephen Turnbull spoke out of turn to the referee and was sin-binned for ten minutes. This moment of indiscipline proved costly for Whitley as they conceded two more goals in the next four minutes. Firstly Thexton slotted home from a ball over the top of the Bay defence then Watts capitalised on his side’s temporary one man advantage cutting in from the right before driving a strong shot into the top corner of the net.
Turnbull returned just before the interval but by this stage that game as a contest was beyond reach for Whitley.
The second half saw a marked improvement in the weather and also in Whitley’s performance as the constant stream of attacks by the home side was stemmed. Just before the hour, Millington forced a fine save from Catterick, with the keeper pushing his powerful effort over the bar. A minute later Elliott Day struck a great low shot from the edge of the box and the ball flew into the bottom right corner of the net to put Whitley on the score sheet.
Two minutes later Bishops restored their four goal lead when Thexton stabbed home the rebound after an initial shot was blocked.
To their credit Whitley kept battling hard and 15 minutes from time Lewis Suddick finished off a good move with a well placed shot into the net but the goal was ruled out by an offside flag.
Chance continued at both ends and after Millington put the ball wide after being played in by Day, Lister made a good block to deny the home side a sixth goal.
In the final minute Suddick fired a shot narrowly over the bar before the hosts were able to celebrate extending their lead at the top of the table.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Neary, Day, Turnbull, Hall, Scorgie, Weirs, Richardson(Cunningham 67mins), Millington, Brewis, Suddick
Substitute not used: Wilkinson
Referee: Peter Hazelton