Whitley Bay advance in FA Vase against near neighbours

Chris Reid and Richard Flynn challenge for a high ball during an attack on the West Allotment goal.
Chris Reid and Richard Flynn challenge for a high ball during an attack on the West Allotment goal.

Three goals in the opening 17 minutes set four time winners Whitley Bay on their way to a surprisingly comfortable FA Vase victory over local rivals West Allotment Celtic.

The win extended the home side’s unbeaten run to an impressive eight games.

And six of those have been in cup ties with only the victories over Bishop Auckland and North Shields being league games.

Suspensions, injuries and holiday commitments meant that Whitley were missing six players as they aimed to continue their tremendously successful form in this season’s national cup competitions.

Fears that players’ minds might be on this wekend’s prestigious FA Cup tie against Chorley were proved to be unfounded as they roared into a three-goal lead and never looked back as a shell-shocked Allotment failed to reproduce the form that saw them come from two goals down to earn a draw against Dunston seven days earlier.

Whitley went on the attack straight from the first whistle and Richard Flynn had the ball in the net inside 90 seconds, but his header was ruled out by an offside flag.

Keeping up the pressure it was little surprise when they took the lead in the tenth minute, the goal coming when Alex Kempster cut in from the left past ex-Bay defender Jake Kallis and his low cross was slid home at the near post by debutant Michael Bell.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 following a left wing corner from Mark Bertram. The ball was headed goalwards by Kempster inside the six-yard box but was blocked by keeper Jak Wells and Chris Reid slotted the rebound into the net from close range.

The Bay pressure was relentless and in the 17th minute Bell broke clear on the right edge of the penalty area and took the ball towards the byline before cutting it back across goal where Kempster tapped home from barely a yard out.

The visitors needed to dig deep to stem the flow of Bay attacks and had made little impression as an attacking force before defender Daniel Sawyer attempted a long range shot that went well wide.

Whitley may have been guilty of sitting back on their lead and a lack of concentration in midfield helped give Allotment a lifeline in the 33rd minute when they broke forward and Pocklington’s ball from near the left byline flew across the face of goal and was put into his own net by Reid as the Bay captain mis-hit his attempted clearance.

Some sturdy challenges were coming in from Allotment, with ex-Whitley Reserves striker Ian Lee doing his best to unsettle the home rearguard and fortunate to escape punishment.

Paddy Atkinson’s men maintained their two-goal to the interval, at which point Stephen Young replaced Jake Richardson.

Bell was making a good impression and the former Ashington man, who lives in Whitley Bay, almost set up a fourth with a ball across the 18-yard box that flew just beyond the reach of Young, who shortly afterwards brought a save from Wells after bursting through on goal.

Young’s persistence was eventually rewarded with 12 minutes remaining when he seized on a mistake in the Allotment defence and took the ball past Wells and tapped it into an empty net.

It had been a relatively quiet afternoon for Bay keeper Andy Jennison but five minutes from time he proved his worth with a fine diving save, pushing a free kick from Keenan wide of the post.

With the game entering stoppage time, Kempster was just off target following good work by Kris Hughes, who then got his first goal in Bay colours with an excellent left footed finish from a tight angle after taking the ball round the keeper on the left edge of the 18-yard box.

There was barely time for the restart before the final whistle signalled an impressive victory by a Whitley side who on current form could make a serious challenge for honours in this their favourite cup competition.

Whitley now have a squad with strength in depth and with the prospect of having to play two games a week almost until Christmas, every player will have their part to play.

Whitley Bay: Jennison, Lumsden (Day 79), McDonald, Anderson, Flynn, Reid, Hughes, Bertram, Bell, Richardson (Young 45), Kempster. Subs not used: Gladstone, Laws.