WHITLEY BAY 4 WHICKHAM 0
Saturday 12th August
Whitley ended Whickham’s unbeaten start to the season with a convincing victory on a sunny but breezy afternoon at Hillheads. A goal in the sixth minute gave them the perfect start but thereafter, there was little to choose between the sides in an evenly contested first half. That all changed soon after the interval when two goals in four minutes gave Nick Gray’s side control of proceedings and they leapfrogged the Lang Jacks into second place in the fledgling table with three wins out of four.
The visitors had the first attempt on goal after just two minutes but prolific striker Scott Robson sent his shot over the bar. Less than four minutes later, Matty Weirs attacked down the Bay left, cut in and put the ball across the edge of the box. Harvey Neary got a touch to the ball before Luke Page met it 15 yards from goal and struck a powerful shot beyond keeper Matthew Cassap for his first goal in Bay colours.
Former Bay midfielder Callum Patton put a free kick just over the bar from not far outside the box while at the other end, Ben Richardson saw his attempt saved. Shortly afterwards, a fiercely struck shot from Harvey Neary stung the palms of Cassap but the young keeper held the ball at the second attempt.
Whickham were very much in the game and two minutes before the interval they came close to an equaliser. Callum Patton cut in from the right and was brought down by Phillips. Referee Stephen Beresford initially pointed to the penalty spot but after consulting his assistant he changed his decision, instead giving the visitors a free kick a yard outside the box. Patton played the ball low across the box but it was comfortably cleared by Lowery to avert the danger and Whitley retained their slender advantage at the break.
The visitors began the second period brightly and skipper Ross Peareth drove a long range effort just wide of the far post before Lister was called into action to save a shot on target from Robson.
Ten minutes into the half, Whitley doubled their lead following pressure which had led to a corner on the left. Richardson played the flag kick short to Cameron Brewis who looped a cross high into the six yard box where Lowery climbed highest to head past Cassap and defender Burrell and into the net.
This goal changed the pattern of the game, with Whitley now well on top it soon got even better for the home side. Just four minutes after Lowery’s goal, Andrew Cartwright made a foraging run down the right and evading several challenges, he burst into the box where he exchanged passes with Brewis before firing a shot past Cassap. The ball struck the inside of the far post and cannoned back across goal. Cartwright reacted quickly and slotted the loose ball home from a tight angle to make it 3-0.
Noah Millington, who had seen a shot from the left of the box clip the top of the bar, was replaced by Josh Gilchrist for the final quarter of the game and the substitute was quickly in the action, seeing a header saved by Cassap.
Whitley were enjoying plenty of possession now and were controlling midfield, and their fourth goal, 15 minutes from time, came when Weirs played a defence splitting pass from the halfway line. Brewis raced through on goal, beat the offside trap, then side stepped a defender before slotting the ball home.
Whickham’s frustration boiled over when Burrell received a second yellow card leaving the visitors to play out the final ten minutes a man short.
With the game now won, Whitley made further substitutions in the closing stages, giving game time to Stephen Turnbull, Jake Cunningham and Evan Wilkinson.
Three points, a second consecutive clean sheet and thankfully no new injuries made this a very satisfying afternoon for Whitley and their fans.
It was an excellent performance and a real confidence booster ahead of next Friday’s rematch at Whickham when the sides meet again, this time in the FA Cup Preliminary Round. However, Bay manager Nick Gray was quick to warn against over confidence saying that it would be a very different game at the Glebe Ground where the home side have an impressive record.
WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Cartwright, Phillips, Richardson(Turnbull 74mins), Hall(Wilkinson 85mins), Lowery, Weirs(Cunningham 81mins), Brewis Page, Neary, Millington (Gilchrist 69mins) Substitute not used: Charlton
Referee: Stephen Beresford