Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Thackley 2 Whitley Bay 3
Whitley are through to the next round of the FA Cup after a dramatic game in West Yorkshire where fortunes ebbed and flowed.
Leading 3-0 at half time, they appeared to be in complete control but Thackley battled back strongly in the second half to produce a tense and nail-biting climax.
Whitley looked the better side and might have gone ahead with just five minutes played when Jack Foalle was played clear on the left but the referee brought play back following an infringement by a Thackley near the half-way line.
Had the advantage rule been applied, Foalle would have been well placed to give Whitley the lead but from the free kick that was awarded, the ball went harmlessly out of play.
Six minutes later the home side created their first chance of the game when Hendrie drove a shot wide of goal from 15 yards.
In the 13 th minute, Callum Anderson played the ball out to Jack Cooper whose through ball cut through the centre of the Thackley defence. Foalle seized his chance and raced on to the loose ball before slotting it past the advancing keeper from 12 yards to put Whitley in front.
Whitley doubled their lead midway through the half after Dan Taggart had controlled a high ball near the left touch line and played a short pass to Luke Salmon who in turn found a gap in the home defence and put Peter Glen-Ravenhill clear on goal.
The Bay captain cleverly chipped the ball over keeper Luke Wilson and into the net.
Six minutes later Glen-Ravenhill again broke through on goal but this time his shot drifted inches wide of the post.
Careless defending by Whitley almost let the Bradford side back in the game in the 35th minute but Tom Flynn came to the rescue, blocking a close-range shot.
Two minutes before the interval, Luke Salmon ran on to a tremendous cross from the right by Ryan Redford and, from just inside the 18-yard box, poked the ball first time past Wilson to put Whitley three up.
It should have got even better on the stroke of half-time when Foalle was tripped by defender Jerry White as he cut through into the right edge of the box. It was a clear penalty but when Foalle stepped forward to take the spot kick, he placed it too close to Wilson who dived the right way and pushed the ball clear.
As Thackley attempted to clear the ball from the danger zone, there were strong appeals for a second penalty for hand ball but these were ignored by the referee and the half-time whistle soon followed.
Two minutes after the resumption, Taggart cut inside a defender on the edge of the box but dragged his shot just beyond the far post. Another chance came and went when Cooper was played in on the left but could not find the target.
Thackley were playing with greater purpose than in the first half and began to put pressure on the Bay defence. They reduced the arrears on the hour after a free kick was awarded not far from the left corner flag, just one of several rather baffling decisions by the match officials.
When the ball was played into the goalmouth, slack marking allowed Nicky Matthews a free header and he powered the ball home. The goal was just the boost the hosts needed and hesitant Bay defending allowed them to dominate possession.
Seven minutes later, the game was wide open after slick passing saw Thackley cut through the Whitley defence and Jordan Hines gave Flynn no chance from six yards.
The final quarter of the game saw a resurgent home side pile on the pressure while Whitley’s defending was at times careless as they needlessly conceded possession. Thackley’s finishing also lacked composure but in the closing stages defences at both ends became increasingly stretched as the home side pushed players forward in search of an equaliser while leaving gaps at the back.
Both Callum Anderson and Luke Salmon went close to adding a fourth Bay goal which would have put the result beyond doubt but neither could get their efforts on target.
Four minutes from time, Flynn made a tremendous one-handed diving save to push away a goalbound shot but a minute later Whitley might have made the game safe when Foalle broke clear only for the referee to halt play due to an off-the-ball incident in the Bay half which resulted in a Thackley player being cautioned.
Another great save by Flynn kept Whitley in front before a tremendous one-handed effort by his opposite number Wilson denied Foalle as the game entered stoppage time.
The final whistle was greeted with relief and delight by Whitley and their fans. Overall, it was a deserved victory but at half-time they could not have imagined such a tense conclusion to the cup tie.
Whitley Bay: Flynn, A Redford, Cooper, R Redford, Caines (Taylor 83mins), C Anderson, Glen-Ravenhill, Carr, Taggart(L Anderson 79mins) Foalle, Salmon(Martin 74mins). Subs not used: Hall, Proctor, Hassan, Powell. Caution: C Anderson.
On Saturday, Whitley are at home to West Auckland and they are back at Hillheads on Tuesday evening when they take on Ryhope CW, kick-off 7.30pm.