Second half show sees Guisborough defeat Whitley Bay

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In what was the proverbial game of two halves, Whitley Bay started strongly, took an early lead and looked comfortably in control.

But they were swept away in the second half as Guisborough stepped up a gear with their highly rated strikers tormenting the Bay defence.

Tom Kindley and Leon Ryan were both back in the Whitley line-up having recovered from injury, but transport problems meant that several players arrived too late to be included in the starting 11 but were named among the substitutes.

With Guisborough in excellent form and on a six-match winning run, there was a bumper crowd at the King George V Ground, easily their biggest league attendance of the season, boosted by a large contingent of Bay fans who had made the 50-mile journey to North Yorkshire.

Playing up the slope in the opening period, Whitley were soon on the attack, but Guisborough briefly threatened when a cross from the right was fired into the side netting.

The visitors went ahead after 12 minutes when hesitancy in the home defence resulted in the ball being given away and Paul Chow seized on the opportunity, going clear on the left edge of the penalty area before slotting the ball past oncoming keeper Ben Escritt.

Continuing in the ascendency, Bay created a chance to double their lead on 24 minutes thanks to a ball played deep to the back of the penalty area by Alex Kempster. Phil Airey then crossed into the six-yard box where Chow got a foot to the ball ahead of Escritt but was denied when his effort cannoned off a defender and away from goal.

Jarrett Rivers was causing problems for the home defence and deceived Escritt just before the half hour when his low shot on the turn drifted inches beyond the far post with the keeper rooted to the spot.

The visitors were stretching the home defence with Rivers and Craig Fawcett operating down the wings, with Rivers appearing unlucky to be cautioned for what looked an innocuous offence.

At this stage in the game little was being seen of Guisborough’s highly rated attacking duo, with the Bay defence looking confident and dealing effectively with the home side’s forays from midfield.

Six minutes before the interval Airey might have added a second for Whitley but his shot was blocked by Escritt.

Excellent play by Kempster then created another opening as the tenacious youngster won possession in a tussle for the ball on the right and after surging forward his cross was headed behind by Town defender Leon Carling.

Guisborough, who had earlier seen appeals for a penalty waved away after claiming handball, then broke away but Johnson fired wide.

It looked as if Whitley would retain their lead at the break, but a minute into added time, immediately after Chow appeared to have been dragged to the ground inside the Guisborough penalty area, Escritt’s long clearance downfield reached Mikey Roberts who raced clear on the right and fired a powerful shot past Kindley to send the sides in level at the interval.

Rivers, who had impressed during the first 45 minutes, was perhaps unlucky to be substituted on the resumption, with Tomi Ameobi talking his place.

A speculative effort almost saw Whitley retake the lead straight from the kick-off when Airey spotted Escritt off his line and attempted an audacious long range shot that was about to dip just under the bar but the keeper, desperately back pedalling, managed to push the ball over at the expense of a corner.

Sadly that was just about the only attempt on goal that Whitley managed to produce in the whole of the second half.

Within four minutes, the much vaunted strike force of Roberts and Danny Johnson, who had already scored a combined total of over 60 goals for Town this season, combined to put the North Yorkshiremen in front.

Roberts showed electric pace to burst clear down the right and when he squared the ball, Johnson had a simple tap in from ten yards.

Chris Moore, who had failed to make an impact, was replaced by James Novak, and a few minutes later Chris Reid came on for Callum Anderson.

Neither substitution managed to regain the momentum for Whitley as their attempts at setting up attacking moves no longer used the width of the pitch but became restricted to long balls downfield, which the home defence dealt with comfortably.

Guisborough stepped up the pressure and mounted wave after wave of attacks through the pace and skill of Roberts and Johnson.

Roberts was denied a second goal by a diving save from Kindley after 69 minutes, and he was thwarted again by the Bay keeper just two minutes later.

A crucial clearance by Novak ten minutes from time prevented a third goal for the home side, but four minutes later Johnson’s cross into the box saw Novak bring down Roberts as he attempted another last ditch tackle.

There was no argument about the penalty and it looked all over for Whitley, but Kindley, who had turned in a man of the match performance in the second half, guessed right and made an excellent diving save to keep out Johnson’s spot kick.

Home fans may have feared, and Bay supporters would certainly have hoped that this might prove to be a crucial moment in the game, but instead of breaking down to the other end and snatching a late equaliser, Whitley conceded a third goal in the 87th minute when Guisborough substitute Peter Bulmer played the ball wide to Callum Martin who fired home from the left side of the 18-yard box.

Guisborough, arguably the surprise team of the season so far, consolidated their top six position with this win while Whitley remain in mid-table at the turn of the year.

Whitley Bay: Kindley, Brooking, Rivers (Ameobi 45 mins), Moore (Novak 61 mins), Ryan, Anderson (Reid 66 mins), McFarlane, Fawcett, Airey, Chow, Kempster. Subs not used: Buzzeo, Smith.

Whitley Bay begin 2014 with a local derby at home to Ashington on Saturday, January 4.

The Colliers are enjoying their best season in years and are currently lying fourth in the Northern League table, so a tough game can be expected.