After last week’s last minute anguish, we were delighted to only have one enforced change to the team line-up from last week’s game. We were slightly surprised to have the same referee taking charge as last week.
A regular theme is becoming apparent this season, where we start off very slowly often taking 15-20 minutes to get in to the game by which time we find ourselves a goal or two down. This week was no different. A corner was cleared by Whitley Bay BC, and despite gathering possession on the half way line, we turned it over almost immediately and the home side marauded forward committing numbers on the counter to leave us outnumbered at the back and finished the move with a cool side footed finish past the helpless Danny Lister in goal. Again, following going a goal behind we started to get in to the game more. Having more possession on the ball and creating a couple of half-chances for ourselves, with Sean Caffrey and Adam Newbrook getting in behind but unfortunately denied by some last ditch defending. A dangerous cross from the left by Andy Smith was met by Caffrey in the box, but he couldn’t quite his header wide enough of the keeper’s dive. Newbrook was becoming a nuisance for the Whitley Bay back 4 and nearly levelled but couldn’t quite direct his shot at the near post on target when well placed. We did find an equaliser just before half-time. A ball in to the box wasn’t dealt with by the home side. A scramble ensued and the ball found its way out to Mick Cave just inside the box, who lashed home an unstoppable equaliser
Half Time: Whitley Bay BC 1 – 1 Whitburn Athletic
The “slow out of the blocks” routine crept in to the kick off in the second half and we were behind within minutes of the restart. We were nearly caught napping by threatening counter attack on a couple more occasions but for some wayward passing and last ditch tackles. It took something special to get us back in to the game. Newbrook bringing down a forward ball, turning his marker inside and out before curling a sublime effort from the left hand side of the box in to the top right hand corner, leaving the keeper glued to the spot in the process.
Pushing forward, somewhat naively in search of taking the lead instead of consolidating to nullify the threat posed, we were again caught on the “COOUUNNTTEERRRR” (despite Whitley Bay letting us know this was their intention on each occasion they piled forward). Stretched at the back, a shot was cruelly deflected in to the path of their striker and with Lister out of the game, having dived to cover the initial shot; they slotted home to take the lead. Their lead was increased 5 minutes later with a piledriver from 25 yards.
Similar to last week, this kick started what was to be another unlikely comeback. Continued attacking pressure came after we were denied a stonewall penalty. Cave this time jinking past three before being tripped in the box. Despite having a good view this, our appeals were turned away by the ref to the disbelief of us and also their defenders! Not to be disheartened we got back on level terms minutes later; Jordan Howe passing the ball through a melee of bodies in to the bottom corner. With 10 minutes left Chris Sheldon sent Smith through with an inch perfect pass. Smith applied the calm finish to pass past the keeper from just inside the box.
If we felt hard done by with last week’s last minute decision, we were equally grieved to be denied what we felt was a last minute winner. Smith was played through again, this time he shot from the edge of the box, the keeper parried back in to the box. The on rushing Howe was beaten to the ball by a defender who’s last ditch attempt to get there ahead of him saw him ricochet the ball back towards goal. Howe’s run took him next the keeper, who then fumbled the ricochet and presented Howe with the chance to poke home from inches out. Howe took the chance to put the ball in to the net for the last gasp winner! It was far from a deserved winner, however one that we’d happily take. This was until the ref was made aware of the home linesman’s flag. After consultation with him, the ref disallowed the goal leaving us dumbfounded at his last minute decision-making for the second week running!