History is ultimate goal for Bay side

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ON Saturday, Whitley Bay FC face the next hurdle in their bid to become the first club ever to win the FA Vase three years running.

And the Seahorses will be up against a club for whom stars such as George Best and England striker Jeff Astle played in the 1970s.

Dunstable Town will be the visitors to Hillheads Park for Saturday’s FA Vase fifth round tie, a game that is expected to attract a big crowd.

The Bedfordshire side have had a turbulent past, going out of business more than once, but as recently as five years ago they were members of the Southern League, just two steps below Football League status.

They now play in the Molten Spartan South Midlands League, where they sit just above the mid-way point.

A home tie is all that Whitley could have asked for after their long journey to Herne Bay in Kent in the last round, and on paper this is a game they are favourites to win.

Manager Ian Chandler’s side are in good form and currently playing their best football of the season as they bid for a quarter-final place.

This is the first time The Blues have reached the last 16 of the competition, having battled through the qualifying rounds since last September.

Whitley coach Gavin Fell travelled south to watch Dunstable last week.

Bay’s preparation for the game has been hit by the poor weather, and on Saturday their game at Bishop Auckland was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

This means defender Steve Gibson will now miss Saturday’s cup tie as he will not have completed a three-match suspension in time.

Club officials are hoping for a crowd of around 1,000 fans at Hillheads, when the new stand on the far side of the ground will be in use for the first time.

Admission will be £6 for adults, £4 concessions, and spectators are asked to arrive in good time to avoid queues at the turnstiles.

If the scores are level after 90 minutes extra time will be played, and if necessary a replay will take place at Dunstable on Saturday, February 19.

On Wednesday February 16, Whitley return to Northern League action with a tricky game at Norton and Stockton, who gained a shock 1-0 win at Hillheads earlier in the season.