Late postponement frustrates Whitley Bay

Whitley Bay’s Northern League first division game at Sunderland RCA on Saturday was called off barely two hours before kick-off.

The late decision was frustrating for fans and officials, many of whom had already set off for Wearside.

Although the Meadow Park pitch had passed an initial morning inspection, the Ryhope-based club called in the match referee to make a final decision and he deemed it unfit.

Drainage problems have plagued the ground in recent weeks, with no games having been possible since well before Christmas.

Consequently, RCA have played fewer games than any other side in the league and have a lengthy backlog of fixtures.

The Wearsiders are lying second bottom of the table and face a battle to avoid relegation, so Whitley, boosted by the addition of six new players signed in midweek, would have seen this as an ideal opportunity to pick up three points.

However, in marked contrast to their hosts, this was their first postponement of the season.

Whitley now have a free week in which Paddy Atkinson can work with his players to prepare for will undoubtedly be a tough game at home to league leaders West Auckland on Saturday.

Both Michael Laws and Craig Smith begin suspensions so there could be several new faces in the Bay side, with keeper Sean McCafferty, defenders Dillon Morse and Phil Cave and midfielder Michael Williamson all likely to be in the starting line-up.