By Julian Tyley
Whitley Bay’s new manager Liam McIvor was clearly delighted with his team’s performance as they extended their winning run to four games with a 3-2 victory at Carlisle City. The former assistant boss was in the dugout for the first time since taking over from Nick Gray and witnessed an action packed encounter against one of Whitley’s rivals for a play-off spot.
On emerging from the dressing rooms his initial reaction was “It’s unbelievable, to come across here on a Tuesday night, bring 16 players and have 5 players out from Saturday’s game is credit to the lads, I cannot praise them enough.
“I thought the first 20 minutes we didn’t get the ball down and play as well as we could. We went down to a scrappy goal and we should have done better with that but I thought on 20 minutes we just turned up the pace a bit, we played a lot of football and to be honest we kept the ball really well but we didn’t create anything clear cut in the first half and I think the message at half time was start try to play forward as much as we can try and play in and around their box with people getting in the box and that’s what we did.”
Whitley scored three times in the second half and while all three goals were well executed, the third, scored by Josh Gilchrist came in for special praise from Liam. “Josh’s goal was an absolutely fantastic finish. I don’t think he’s score many better than that before. And it was a great ball to him by Ben, he deserves credit as well. The subs who all came on made a massive impact today, one scoring, one with an assist and it was good to get a young lad, 18 year old Harry Law on the pitch as well.”
One of the four teenagers in Bay’s starting eleven was James McGeorge, on loan for the rest of the season from South Shields, and his performance caught the eye of the Bay fans who had travelled to Cumbria for the game. McIvor commented “James is a fantastic player and he’s only going to get stronger the more he plays with us, but everyone was outstanding tonight. I cannot praise the lads enough. It’s one of them nights!”
Carlisle City have an impressive home record, with just one league defeat before this game, making the result all the more noteworthy. “There’ll not be many teams that come here and beat these on their home turf. They’re so physical, they’re direct, they keep setting balls up, they’re very good at what they do but, one thing we’ve said all season, me and Nicky, is we’ve got a squad that’s strong and whether we’ve got 4 or 5 missing, the keeper Graeme Pickering, Elliott Day, Cam Brewis, Harvey Neary, we’ve replaced them with quality and they were fantastic today.”
Of the replacements, goalkeeper Fin Hodgson made his debut and the manager added “I thought Fin was solid, his kicking was excellent and his handling was good. I don’t think he had any chance with the goals but what he had to do he was good.
“It’s four wins in a row so hopefully it may continue at Benfield on Saturday. That’s a massive game, another cup final, but we go one game at a time. We’ve got probably 3 of the 4 players back on Saturday so it’s competition all over. If you play well you keep your shirt. It’s an old cliché in football but that’s how it is.”