WHITLEY Bay FC’s friendly against a Sunderland XI fell victim to the dreadful summer weather - but not before Ian Chandler’s team had gained the upper hand playing some excellent football against a side including several players with Premier League experience.
Heavy rain from late morning eased slightly before kick-off, but the downpour returned and during half-time, puddles started to appear on the pitch close to the main stand.
Referee Joe Buglass delayed the second half for ten minutes in the hope that conditions would improve but the torrential rain showed no sign of abating so the inevitable decision was made to abandon the game.
The poor weather clearly deterred some spectators and there were only 300 fans in the ground when the game kicked off.
Whitley were certainly not overawed by the occasion and were soon attacking down the wings, with Craig McFarlane particularly prominent on the left.
Six minutes into the game, an excellent cross-field ball from Christie Elliott found McFarlane who went past Liam Marrs before curling the ball across the goalmouth.
Three minutes later, McFarlane’s cross was punched away by keeper Trevor Carson just ahead of Robbie Dale.
Whitley were adapting to the conditions better despite having the rain in their faces and it was the 11th minute before Sunderland tested Kyle Hayes in the Bay goal, with Alex Gorrin’s effort being comfortably saved.
Another cross from McFarlane was collected above his head by Carson as Whitley looked the livelier side, and it was no more than they deserved when they took a 29th minute lead.
Dale seized on a misplaced pass in the Sunderland half and when the ball was played out to the right, Paul Robinson took it near to the by-line before sending it low across the face of goal. Nyron Nosworthy failed to intercept the ball and McFarlane sliding in at the back post hit it high into the roof of the net.
The nearest Sunderland came to an equaliser was in the 36th minute when Brett Elliott broke away on the right and fired a low shot across goal but beyond the far post.
Two minutes later, a foul just outside the left edge of the visitors’ penalty area gave Whitley a free kick in the ideal position for Lee Kerr.
Only a fine fingertip save from Carson, diving away to his left, kept the ball out.
Dale was proving a real handful for the Black Cats’ defence and when he ghosted past Marrs on the left wing, there was no one on hand to apply the finishing touch as his ball flew across the goalmouth.
The last action of note came two minutes before the interval when Gorrin fired a shot high over the Whitley bar into the car park behind the goal.
Both sides would have been planning changes for the second half but the weather intervened to prevent any of the substitutes getting on the pitch.
The 45 minutes saw Whitley play some of their best football of the pre-season, with every member of the side contributing and Callum Anderson, McFarlane, Elliott and Dale looking particularly impressive.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Anderson, McFarlane, Robinson, Timmons, Williams, Ormston, Downey, Kerr, Elliott, Dale. Substitutes not used: Chow, Ball, Rowe, Smith, C Bell, Chandler.
n Ready for kick-off – page 87