This week Red Row Welfare were the visitors to Temple Park, on a gloriously warm sunny Saturday afternoon, fresh from inflicting the first league defeat of the season against league leaders Killingworth YPC last week. We knew from the offset we would be faced with a stern test against a top 4 team who have been hot on the tails of the top two in the league. The visitors started strongly and had us pinned in our half for most of the first 45 minutes and tested our defensive resolve with probing runs from their wing-backs and looking to play in the lively forwards in behind. Defensively we managed to repel their attacks, with a combination of some timely interventions and last ditch tackles. This was until the 20th minute when Red Row were awarded a fortunate penalty. A ball in to the box was challenged but following a heavy first touch by their number 9, he fell to the ground in “rather dramatic” fashion, and was adjudged to have been felled illegally by the ref who pointed to the spot. The penalty was dispatched and they visitors had the lead their constant pressure deserved. We were unable to string two passes together and were caught out again and again in possession in our own half and continually invited Red Row to attack by sitting deep due to not being able to retain possession further up the pitch. A couple of half chances went begging for Red Row before Whitburn registered their first meaningful attack of the half just after the half hour mark. Jake Kirkley, winning possession on the half way line, strode forward and played a neat 1-2 with Ant Chapman before sending a curling effort rebounding off the bar for a goal kick. HALF TIME: 0 – 1 After a bit of a rocket at half time we came out and looked to look after the ball better and get ourselves out of our half and apply some pressure to Red Row. The first 10 minutes of the second half continued in the same vain as the first but Red Row were limited to difficult chances from the edges of the box. A quick throw in saw a Red Row midfielder find his way in to the box and his attempt brought an instinctive save from Woody in goal, who stretched to tip the ball round the post. A couple of minutes later the visitors should really have doubled their lead. A neat passing exchange on the edge of the box put their midfielder in front of goal 12 yards out, and with the corner of the goal begging he somehow managed to place his attempt wide of the post. This miss seemed to give the team a lift and we proceeded to finally apply some pressure on the Red Row defence. Some tidy play on the edge of the visitor’s box resulted in a succession of corners and a blocked attempt at goal found its way out to Davey Conroy on 25 yards out but his dipping volley was narrowly wide of the target. About 70 minutes had passed before we got on level terms. Kirkley breaking away again from midfield before releasing Andy Smith who outpaced the centre back before rifling past the keeper. A well deserved equaliser for the home team who were beginning to grow in confidence as the game entered the latter stages. The visitors continued to probe from wide areas and got themselves back in front. An in-swinging corner from the left was met on the edge of the 6 yard box and flicked home. The lead was short-lived however as from the resulting kick off Conroy found Chapman out on the left who brought the ball down and cut inside the full back on to his right foot before unleashing a dipping, swerving swaz of a shot from 20 yards which beat the keeper all ends up to nestle in the far corner of the net to get us back on level terms. We had to see out a couple of Red Row corners in the dying minutes as they pushed for a winner but we held on for a deserved, hard-fought point.
it was a gritty performance that we’d been looking for all season, contesting and battling for every scrap and we will take the point against a decent Red Row side. FULL TIME: Whitburn Athletic 2 – 2 Red Row Welfare