Bumper crowd but final home game ends in defeat


Saturday 20th April

Report by Julian Tyley

Whitley’s final home game of the season ended in a disappointing defeat to West Auckland, who are now assured of a place in the newly introduced play offs for the sides finishing 2nd to 5th in the table.

The margin of defeat may have seemed harsh on Whitley but once again, for all their neat and careful build up play, the end product was missing and they were guilty of errors in the build up to all of the visitors’ goals.

A bumper crowd of over 600 fans, Whitley’s biggest of the season, included a large number of children who had been attending a coaching session on the pitch organised by Bay defender Andrew Cartwright and they helped to create an excellent atmosphere during the game.

Prior to kick off there was a one minute silence in memory of Ivor Berry, manager of the club’s programme shop, who passed away unexpectedly on Monday.

Whitley almost made the perfect start when Cartwright’s free kick was played back across goal by Elliott Day and Bailey Geliher’s header flew narrowly wide of the target.

West Auckland took the lead in the eighth minute when a long ball was played down the right wing. Oscar Fletcher intercepted the ball between defender Paddy Almond and keeper Dan Lister and raced away to slot it into an empty net.

A bad foul on Geliher, tripped in full flight down the left wing, earned the Auckland captain a caution four minutes later but the resultant free kick was played just beyond the far post by Josh Gilchrist.

Another good move by Whitley saw Cartwright sprint down the right wing before sending over a cross into the box which Gilchrist volleyed just wide of the near post.

With 19 minutes played, Michael Hall was left unmarked and sent a header from a right wing corner just over the bar.

As the Bay stayed on the attack, a free kick taken by Brewis just outside the box was only narrowly off target.

The visitors had a great chance to extend their lead in the 37th minute when a quick break down the right saw the ball crossed into the box where Hume had time and space but sent his header well over the bar.

Two minutes before the interval, Auckland did get a second goal. After Lister had made a point blank save the ball was played across goal to Josh Scott who had a simple finish.

It was a frustrating end to the half where Whitley had fully matched their opponents but went in two goals down.

Any hopes of a comeback were virtually extinguished within three minutes of the restart when the visitors added a third goal. It came from a left wing corner by Mitchell and prolific striker Scott escaped the attention of the Bay defence and planted a header beyond Lister.

It might have got worse shortly afterwards but Lister made a fine diving save to deny Bailey.

In Whitley’s first substitution, after 53 minutes, Scott Lowery replaced captain Michael Hall, who left the field to generous applause from the fans and both sets of players when it was announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season and this was his final appearance at Hillheads. Michael has become a hugely popular player in his two years with Whitley Bay at the end of a long and successful career in non league football.

Whitley's cause was not helped when Harvey Neary was sin binned leaving Whitley a man short for ten minutes.  With the visitors comfortably in control, both sides made several more substitutions in the next quarter of the game with little goalmouth action until the 73rd minute when Lowery’s well struck effort from 25 yards through the Auckland defence struck the base of the post and rebounded to safety with Liversedge beaten.

Paddy Almond came forward for a free kick taken by Lewis Suddick seven minutes from time but could not make sufficient contact and the ball went wide of goal.

When the visitors attacked again, a volley from Nicholson was pushed wide by Lister but play quickly reverted to the other end, where Lewis Suddick was brought down just inside the box and Whitley were awarded a penalty. Suddick took the spot kick himself and struck it powerfully beyond Liversedge for what, with barely two minutes remaining, was little more than a consolation goal.

With the game approaching stoppage time, Lewis Ritson lost possession just inside the visitors’ half and when the ball was quickly played across field, Scott took it beyond the Bay defence before slotting home past Lister to complete his hat trick and restore the three goal lead.

After the final whistle, the team stayed on the pitch, joined by the entire Bay squad and coaching staff to applaud the fans for their support during a season of mixed fortunes.

WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Cartwright, Day (Ritson 57mins), Ellison, Almond, Hall (Lowery 53mins), Brewis, H Neary, Gilchrist (Storr 57mins), F Neary (Law 61mins), Geliher (Suddick 46mins)

Caution: Gilchrist; Sin Bin: H Neary

Referee: Ryan Moore

Attendance: 602


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