Still no joy for Bay at Whickham


Tuesday 19th March

Report by Julian Tyley

The Glebe at Whickham has never been a happy hunting ground for Whitley Bay and nothing changed on their latest visit, when mistakes at key moments proved decisive.

In Scott Robson, Whickham have the most prolific striker in the League, with over 50 goals to his name this season and while Whitley kept him in check for much of the game, he twice used his pace to score both goals for the Lang Jacks while Liam McIvor’s side, for all their endeavour, lacked the finishing touch.

There were two changes from the side that narrowly lost at Boro Rangers on Saturday, with Andrew Cartwright and Bailey Geliher both returning to the starting line up.

The opening exchanges saw little goalmouth action but in midfield Whitley were having the greater share of possession.

Their first real attempt on goal came with 20 minutes played following good work by Elliott Day who played the ball to Bailey Geliher who then worked his way into the six yard box but his attempt was eventually cleared.

The first big moment of the game came after 28 minutes when Whickham played a long ball forward. Graeme Pickering raced off his line to intercept it just inside the box but he appeared to misjudge the pace of Robson who got to the ball just ahead of him but was caught by the keeper’s dive and tumbled to the ground. Referee Tom Lishman awarded a penalty and cautioned Pickering.

Robson took the penalty kick himself and although Pickering went the right way, the power of the shot beat him, putting Whickham ahead with their first attack of note.

Ten minutes later they doubled their lead and again it was Robson whose electric pace proved decisive. Whitley conceded possession near the touch line on the lower side of the pitch and when Robson received the ball he raced away down the right, shrugging off a challenge from Ritson as he cut in near the by-line before firing home from a narrow angle to put his side 2-0 ahead.

Whitley responded almost immediately and much of the credit must go to Geliher, who was impressing with his close control on his return to the starting eleven. Harvey Neary and Elliott Day worked their way forward and when Geliher set up a chance for Gilchrist, the Bay top scorer lashed the ball across Bussey and into the net to reduce the arrears just four minutes before the interval.

Barely sixty seconds later Whitley nearly drew level when Ellison burst forward and it took a good reaction save by Bussey to keep the ball out.

Deep into stoppage time, a Whickham free kick whistled just wide of the upright but at 2-1, there was still everything to play for in the second half.

On the resumption, Lewis Ritson, who is still regaining fitness after a spell out of competitive action, was replaced by Cameron Brewis.

The pattern of the game continued with Whitley playing some neat football in midfield but struggling to get shots on goal, while Whickham relied on long balls played upfield by goalkeeper Bussey. Paddy Almond, who was doing a highly effective job preventing Robson from making any further impact, burst forward on the hour, shrugging off challenges before exchanging passes just outside the box and firing in a strong shot that crashed off the side netting.

Marcello Benedetti, just three minutes after coming off the bench shot wide after being played through by Day but then with 68 minutes on the clock, Whitley had a glorious chance to get an equaliser when Gilchrist ran clear down the middle but with just Bussey to beat, he tried to take the ball around the keeper, who bravely snatched it and the chance was gone.

Geliher, who had been Bay’s best player in the first half on his return from injury, began to tire and gave way to Jos Storr, scorer of two goals on Saturday, in the final quarter of the game as Whitley continued to search for a goal to level the game.

The nearest they came in the remaining minutes was when Brewis saw his shot from the right fly well over the bar as he tried to compensate for the slope.

WHITLEY BAY: Pickering, Cartwright, Day, Ellison. Almond, Ritson(Brewis 46mins), Geliher (Storr 72mins), H Neary, Gilchrist, F Neary, Suddick(Benedetti 63mins)

Substitutes not used: McGeorge, Law

Cautions: Pickering, Ellison, H Neary

Referee: Tom Lishman

Attendance: 212

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