15/03/1969: SUTTON UTD 4  WHITLEY BAY 2

FA Amateur Cup semi final at St Andrews, Birmingham

Whitley Bay travelled to Birmingham hoping for a place in the FA Amateur Cup Final, perhaps an all-North-East clash with rivals North Shields, who were meeting Skelmersdale in the other semi final. Isthmian league side Sutton were the South’s last hope. Heavy rain had soaked the pitch but it was a fine day when the Bay kicked off and launched immediately into attack, but a long clearance by the Sutton defence found Mellows, who dashed down the middle only to be brilliantly halted by Smith.

Then Sutton claimed five corners in less than three minutes, and the Bay defended desperately, with some hasty clearances. After eight minutes Garfield beat two men and his mis-hit centre found Drabwell who slammed it home. Things looked bleak as Ramshaw received a nasty cut in the eyebrow, and had to leave the field for stitches by the club doctor. Then O’Hara was injured by a kick in the back, which tore his shorts and necessitated a substitute pair being sent on.

Once Whitley settled down and found their rhythm they began to look dangerous, and after twenty minutes Wright had them level. O’Hara floated in a well-placed corner, it was cleared to Knox, who returned a hard, low shot into the penalty area, where Wright hammered it into the net. Then Goundry pulled off a great save from Howard, but a fine header from Mellows crashed against the bar.

The Sutton wingmen looked dangerous, and after thirty minutes Bladon centred to Drabwell who made it 1-2 at half-time.

Whitley Bay started the second half with determination, and Wright just failed to reach an O’Hara cross, after the winger had beaten three men. Then came a series of corners for the Bay. with Walton, Beynon and Gatens just failing to get in the telling shot.

After fifty-six minutes Wright, dashing from just outside the centre circle, won a goal for persistence. Roffey fumbling the ball and the centre-forward pushed it home. 2-2.

However, eight minute later a rare defensive mistake led to Howard receiving a cross unmarked and scoring from close range. Then with Sloan and Ramshaw taking the ball up the middle it began to look as if Whitley would equalise once again.

A free kick just outside the Sutton penalty area came to Beynon who shot into the net, but the referee had just blown for an infringement. Beynon then saved a certain goal at the other end by stopping the ball on the line. But Sutton were not to be denied. In the eighty-second minute another fine cross from the wing found Mellows, and the score was 4-2.

Whitley brought everyone forward, including Knox and Chater, in a last gamble, without success. For the defence, Smith had an outstanding game.

COMMENT: “A stirring game between twenty-two men with big hearts, boundless enthusiasm, and skills aplenty. Two thousand ‘neutral supporters’ from Birmingham went home happy, for they had seen a game worth their money” — Birmingham evening paper.

Whitley Bay : Goundry, Chater, Knox, Walton, Smith, Ramshaw, O’ Hara, Beynon, Wright, Sloan, Gatens. Sub : Ritchie

Sutton United : Roffey, Garfield, Grose, Brooks, Clarke, Gradi, Bladon, Mellows, Drabwell, Pritchard, Howard. Sub : Gane