Double joy as Bay claim the derby day honours

Monday 1st April

Report by Julian Tyley
Two quickfire goals at the start of the second half gave Whitley a well deserved and comfortable victory in this eagerly anticipated local derby against North Shields. Coming less than a month after their crushing 7-2 win when the sides met at Hillheads, Bay players and their fans were able to celebrate completing a memorable double over their North Tyneside rivals with bragging rights clearly belonging to those in blue and white.
A new month did not bring a change in the dismal weather with persistent overnight rain continuing throughout the game. However, on April 1st, Bay fans were not to be fooled into believing the game would be called off, turning up in excellent numbers to welcome back goalkeeper Dan Lister, who rejoined the club shortly before the transfer deadline after a five month spell at Whickham. He turned in an excellent performance, and played no small part in ensuring Whitley’s first clean sheet in 12 games.
Top scorer Josh Gilchrist was injured so Jos Storr came into the starting eleven and Lewis Suddick wore the number nine shirt.
North Shields started brightly with McCamley attacking down the wing but Whitley defended strongly and denied the hosts any early chances on goal.
Playing into the wind and rain, Whitley’s first attempt came with 11 minutes gone when Bailey Geliher produced a shot that flew just beyond the far post.
When play reverted to the other end, Pritchard twice threatened but on both occasions, Lister proved his worth with fine saves.
Midway through the half, Whitley put together a good move with Fin Neary crossing for his brother Harvey, whose shot lacked power and was easily gathered by Dobson.
Gradually coming more into the game, with Cartwright and Ellison now increasingly influential in midfield, Whitley were enjoying a greater share of possession but without creating clear cut chances.
Eight minutes before the interval, play was held up after Michael Hall picked up and injury and despite treatment the Bay captain was unable to continue and was replaced by Scott Lowery.
The game was beginning to open up more and good approach work by Lewis Suddick gave Harvey Neary a sight of goal and his shot from 20 yards out skimmed the outside of the far post and went behind.
One minute later Geliher was tripped as he was about to burst through into the box but the resultant free kick was hit too high and failed to trouble Dobson.
On the stroke of half time, a shot from the lively Pritchard brought an excellent save from Lister to leave the game goal less at the interval.
Whatever was said in the Bay dressing room during the break certainly had a dramatic impact on the game as within 50 seconds of the resumption, Whitley took the lead. Good play by Suddick and Geliher wide on the left, just outside the Shields box, saw the teenager set up Elliott Day who curled a great right footed shot across goal and into the far top corner of the net.
Barely four minutes later a precise through ball from Harvey Neary cut open the Shields defence and Suddick burst clear to fire a powerful shot past Dobson into the corner of the net.
The two rapid goals were a body blow to the hosts while Whitley’s confidence soared.
Despite the tricky conditions, Whitley’s passing was becoming more accurate and the early pace down the wing from Shields faded.
With 66 minutes played, Whitley might have added a third when Day cut in from the left and drove in a fierce shot that crashed off the outside of the upright as Dobson dived across goal to keep it out.
Played swiftly switched to the other end and it took a brave goal line clearance by Lowery to deny the hosts.
Shields made a series of changes, bringing on fresh legs to try and rescue the game and when Lee Mason, a one time Bay striker, was replaced, Ben Harmison was moved up front to provide a physical presence but Paddy Almond along with Scott Lowery nullified his impact.
Now comfortably in control of the game, Whitley were producing the lion’s share of the attacking play and with 16 minutes left, good work by the Neary brothers gave a chance for Jos Storr but he could not direct his shot on goal and the opportunity was gone.
Twice in the last ten minutes, Harvey Neary went close to extending the Bay lead, his first attempt with a close range effort bringing a good save from Dobson while a stoppage time shot was narrowly off target.
The final whistle was greeted with delight by the large contingent of Bay fans who were able to celebrate their first league double over the Robins in 8 years.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Cartwright, Day, Ellison, Almond, Hall (Lowery 37mins), F Neary, Storr, Suddick, H Neary, Geliher
Substitutes not used: Law, Wilkinson, Ritson
Caution: Day
Referee: Thomas James
Attendance: 446

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