Dunston end Whitley Bay’s interest in FA Vase

Chris Moore in action on his return to Hillheads.
Chris Moore in action on his return to Hillheads.

The clash of the recent FA Vase winners failed to live up to its billing as Whitley Bay produced a bitterly disappointing performance in front of their biggest crowd of the season against Dunston UTS.

They never really got going and a strong, hard tackling Dunston side were good value for their 2-0 win, even though both goals came from uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.

The luck of the draw meant that one of the favourites would be eliminated at an early stage of the competition, but Whitley were on a six-match winning run which included five clean sheets, so the manner of their defeat was something few would have predicted.

Chris Moore, whose transfer back to Hillheads from Darlington was completed just before the Friday deadline, came straight into the starting 11.

Chris Fawcett was also back in the side having recovered from the injury that kept him out of the three previous games. Phil Airey could count himself unlucky to be dropped to the bench with Paul Chow playing as a lone striker.

Eight minutes had been played before the first attempt on goal came when Dunston’s Lee McAndrew fired a low shot into the side netting.

There was little goalmouth action at either end for the next quarter of an hour with defences on top.

After 26 minutes, Michael Dixon fired over for the visitors, and then Whitley briefly threatened when good work by Jarrett Rivers set up Craig McFarlane for a shot that flew over the bar.

Just past the half hour Chow headed over from a James Novak free kick, then at the other end Goddard blazed his shot over when well placed.

Eight minutes before the interval Whitley produced what turned out to be their best effort of a poor afternoon when Moore fired in a low shot that Connell got his fingers to as it crashed off the post and went behind for a corner.

Two corners in quick succession saw the home side begin to exert some pressure but there was no end product.

Then a quick break to the other end saw McAndrew set up a chance for Jonny Wightman but he poked the ball wide.

In the final minute of the half, Dunston pushed forward, and despite there appearing any great danger, Michael Dixon crossed from wide on the right towards the Whitley goalmouth where Brad Brooking completely sliced what should have been a straightforward clearance and the ball looped over the head of Tom Kindley and into the net.

It was cruel blow for the home side and left them with virtually no time to respond before the half-time whistle.

They needed to get back in the game as soon as possible but Dunston might have dealt a fatal blow within two minutes of the restart only for McAndrew to completely miss the ball as it flew across a gaping goal.

Two minutes later, Moore’s pace took him through in a rare breach of the Dunston defence but his half-hit shot barely troubled Connell.

Chow then set up Moore but his first time effort cleared the bar.

Airey was brought on just before the hour but he was unable to make any real impact.

Too many Bay players were failing to perform anywhere near their normal levels and Dunston’s uncompromising defence, in which Cattanach and veteran Chris Swailes were outstanding, allowed Whitley no time on the ball and Connell was rarely tested.

Kindley comfortably saved a long range effort from Wightman but there was little goalmouth action as the game became confined more to midfield with neither side producing the quality needed to break down their opponents.

The game was approaching the final 15 minutes when Whitley won a free kick about 20 yards from goal on the left. Novak drove the ball across goal and Connell made a crucial save, bravely punching clear almost off the head of Chow just when he looked set to put level.

How crucial this save turned out to be was demonstrated within seconds when Craig McFarlane failed to control a crossfield pass in his own half and McAndrew whipped the ball off his toes and raced clear before producing a clinical finish past Kindley.

The game was up for Whitley and although Airey finally saw something of the ball, it was too late to turn the game.

Five minutes from time his cross from the left saw Callum Anderson surging forward and getting a foot to the ball but it cleared the bar and Dunston comfortably saw out the remaining minutes.

The after match opinions of manage Ian Chandler and players alike summed up the feelings of fans as they left the ground “We didn’t turn up, we created nothing”.

After years of unparalleled Vase success, this was the first time that Whitley have not reached the fourth round since 2005, but for Dunston, this victory will give them the belief that it could be their year once again.

Whitley Bay: Kindley, Rivers (Airey 58), Chow, Buzzeo (Reid 81), Fawcett (Kempster 73), Moore, Novak, Brooking, McFarlane, Ryan, Anderson. Subs not used: Antony, McMullen.