Whitley slump to cup defeat



Tuesday 22nd August

Whitley crashed out off the FA Cup in extremely disappointing fashion in front of their biggest crowd of the season at Hillheads. In what was the third meeting between the sides in just ten days, Whickham were the better outfit from start to finish and the margin of victory might have been bigger if they had made the most of their chances.

Following a convincing 4-0 victory in a league fixture ten days earlier, Whitley finished the stronger side in a 1-1 draw at The Glebe on Friday night so such a complete turnaround in performance was hard to believe.

Captain Michael Hall had not recovered from the foot injury which led to him being substituted during the game on Friday so Andrew Cartwright took the skipper’s armband. Lewis Suddick was also unavailable but the absence of these two players could not account for the way Whitley capitulated, especially given the importance of this cup tie.

In just about their only attempt on target during the first half, with four minutes played Ben Richardson struck a low shot through a crowded 18 yard box but Dawson made a comfortable save.

Eight minutes later Whickham should have taken the lead when Scott Robson crossed from the right and with the goal at his mercy, the unmarked Sam Johnson somehow managed to smash the ball high over the bar when it looked easier to score.

Whitley’s relief was short-lived as they failed to learn from their defensive mistake and within two minutes Callum Munro, a former Bay midfielder who scored the Lang Jack’s goal on Friday found the net again to give the visitors the lead.

Almost immediately, when play switched to the other end, Mark Davison sent a header wide of the post.

Rather than forcing their way back into the game Whitley conceded a second goal after 21 minutes when keeper Dan Lister made complete misjudgement in attempting a clearance from the left edge of his box and played the ball straight into the path of Munro who calmly slotted the ball back beyond Lister into an unguarded goal.

Two goals adrift Whitley now faced an uphill battle but eight minutes later they very nearly pulled a goal back, Josh Gilchrist crossing to Davison whose powerful header crashed off the post with Dawson beaten. A goal at that stage would have changed the complexion of the game but it was the best that Whitley could muster and at the interval Whickham looked comfortably in control.

Bay fans may have been clinging to the fact that fortunes turned very much in their favour after the interval in the game on Friday but there was to be no repeat of that. Shortly after the restart it needed a last ditch block by Scott Lowery to deny Munro a third goal and with 54 minutes player the chances of a comeback were severely dented when Lowery received a red card after his challenge brought down Robson just outside the box when the striker had his sights on goal. Now down to ten men, things nearly got worse from the resultant free kick which Stephenson struck against the post with the rebound being cleared to safety.

The visitors looked in command and Whitley offered very little in attack, with much of the game being played in the Bay half.

Lister redeemed himself after his earlier error with an outstanding diving save to deny Stephenson in the 71st minute and he was kept busy during the remainder of the game when Whickham threatened to extend their lead on several occasions but could not apply the finishing touch with Bay defending solidly.

It took almost until the 90th minute for Whitley to get another effort on target, Weirs forcing Dawson to block a close range shot, by which time the prospects of a recovery had gone.

Whickham added a third goal deep into stoppage time with Romano sealing a well deserved victory and a potentially lucrative tie at home to Macclesfield in the next round.

WHITLEY BAY: Lister, Cartwright, Philips, Turnbull, Lowery, Richardson(Wilkinson 59mins ), Gilchrist, Weirs, Davison(Millington 46mins), Brewis, Neary

Substitutes not used: Cunningham, Scorgie

Caution: Gilchrist

Referee: Callum Donnelly

Attendance: 409

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