Whitley Bay in thrilling SSE FA Women’s Cup win

editorial image

Whitley progressed to the First Round Proper of this season’s SSE FA Women’s Cup after a real blood and guts cup tie at Hillheads that had

everything a cup tie should have.

Following a successful pitch inspection at 7.30am, Woolton were given the green light to travel and headed to North Tyneside from their

Merseyside base for a 1pm KO.

While the pitch was heavy following a weekend of rain, the ground staff had done a brilliant job in preparing a surface fit to play on and the

home side lined up with just one change from last week’s victory over Tynedale, Marshall failing a fitness test on a troublesome thigh and replaced by Watson and the home side named Geoghegan, Cochrane, Watson, Binney, Rodda, Turnbull, Teasdale, Ord, Stevenson, Preston and Bennett with Telfer, Moran and Shields as substitutes.

In a cagey opening, it was the away side that had the first strike on goal with an effort which flew past Geoghegan’s right hand post on four minutes.

The opening exchanges were slightly edged by Woolton who looked

to take a stranglehold in midfield playing five across the middle.

It took 14 minutes for Whitley to test Woolton’s keeper with Preston’s shot from the edge of the area well held yet it was Woolton who came

closest to scoring in the opening exchanges following a long goalkeeper clearance on 20 minutes.

The long ball wasn’t dealt with and it saw Woolton’s striker in a tussle with Watson which the away player won before forcing Geoghegan into an excellent double save.

This effort gave the away side confidence that they could take the game to Whitley and two further efforts which came close to Geoghegan’s goal was a warning to the home side that they would need to improve and this is what they did as the first half approached a conclusion, Teasdale’s effort just wide of the left hand post.

The interval came with no changes in personnel for the home side, but the second half started with what seemed to be more energy in their play and after a couple of close efforts from distance from Ord, Whitley opened the scoring with a well-worked goal on 57 minutes.

Preston fashioned a cross into the penalty area from out right and while Bennett’s shot smashed off the crossbar, the confusion in the away side defence and Bennett’s second effort again blocked by Woolton, saw the ball fall to Turnbull who rifled home from 8 yards out to the joy of the home side and the excellent crowd who had turned up to support them.

This goal gave the Blue and Whites a big confidence boost and they began to really take the game to their visitors, who were on an excellent run of form of their own having won every game this season.

Stevenson came close to adding to Whitley’s score on 66 minutes as her deep cross to the back post from the left somehow managed to bounce off the top of the crossbar and away to safety.

Back up the other end and with Woolton pushing an extra striker forward in an effort to chase the game, the away side came mightily close to

scoring as they hit the home side with an excellent counter attack from a Whitley corner, and with the Bay’s defence stretched, the striker pulled her shot wide of Geoghegan’s goal.

Whitley made their first change on 75 minutes with Shields replacing Teasdale, Turnbull moving to central midfield.

With 10 minutes remaining, Woolton came within inches of scoring the equaliser.

A throw-in from the left saw Woolton cross into the penalty area where the dangerous number 10 saw Whitley’s defence seemingly open up for a shot on goal by her which Geoghegan did brilliantly to tip over the crossbar from eight yards out for a corner to the away side.

The last few minutes of the game saw Whitley bring Telfer on for Preston and soon after attacked again down the left with Stevenson rather amazingly hitting the top of the crossbar again in almost identical fashion to her earlier cross.

Whitley were happy to keep the ball in the Woolton half as the time ran down and when referee Pygall, who had an excellent and very consistent game, blew his final whistle, it was the home side who celebrated and took their place in the first round draw.

After the game, first team coach Jason Miller gave his thoughts on the team’s performance.

“Woolton made it very difficult for us as we fully expected them to do.

“In fact, they probably edged the first half. Yet we spoke at half time to the players about making our passes count and the importance of

keeping a clean sheet.

“We said to the players that one goal may well be enough and sure enough it was. We are very proud of the players.

“We can now look forward to the draw and the excitement which that brings”.

Next week, Whitley are at home again as they look to start the defence of their Northumberland FA County Cup against Prudhoe WFC.