Whitley Bay knocked out of FA Cup by Chorley

Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks
Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks

Despite a tremendous battling display, Whitley Bay, the last remaining Northern League side in the competition, were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, narrowly beaten by a side three divisions above them in the non-league pyramid.

Whitley emerged with a huge amount of credit and gave their higher-ranked visitors a real fright before superior quality eventually earned Chorley their place in the final qualifying round.

It was a classic cup tie, swinging first one way then the other and with the outcome in doubt right up to the final whistle.

The visitors began at a rapid pace and created the first chance after just three minutes, with Kieran Charnock’s close-range header from Bond’s left-wing corner being headed off the line by Chris McDonald.

Five minutes later, James Dean missed the target when he should have done better.

Whitley were defending well, and four minutes later, they broke upfield, and a surging run by Phil Lumsden briefly threatened, but the Lancashire side’s defence eventually cleared the danger.

Shortly afterwards, as the visitors cleared their lines, a ball out of defence by Paul Jarvis into midfield reached captain Andrew Teague, but he hesitated on the ball and was dispossessed by Adam Shanks.

With the Chorley defence having pushed forward, Shanks, although still in the centre circle, found himself with a clear run on goal.

He broke away and, looking up, spotted keeper Sam Ashton well off his line, and, from 35 yards, smashed a superb shot over the stranded keeper with the ball dipping just under the bar to give Whitley a 15th-minute lead and send the bumper Hillheads crowd wild with delight.

Boosted by the goal, Whitley grew in confidence, safely withstanding several attacking moves from the National League North side, and just past the half hour, Kempster set up Kris Hughes, but his effort was cut out.

Three minutes later, following good approach work by the impressive Kempster, Shanks almost got a second spectacular goal but this time Ashton got behind his fierce volley from 16 yards.

Despite these chances, it was Chorley who continued to enjoy the greater share of possession, but sterling work by Chris Reid and his fellow defenders kept Whitley in front.

A brilliant diving save from Andy Jennison denied the Lancastrians what looked a certain goal after 36 minutes, when the Bay keeper went full length to push a header from Winter round the post.

One minute later, Whitley suffered a serious blow which was arguably the turning point of the game as Chris Reid limped off with a hamstring injury, forcing a reshuffle in the Bay defence, with Lumsden moving into the back four.

Replacing Reid was 19-year-old midfielder Dillon Blake, who played a handful of first-team games two years ago but has since been plying his trade in the reserves.

He was immediately in the game and, within seconds, was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Teague.

The youngster might have doubled Whitley’s lead three minutes later when he broke clear 25 yards from goal.

Rather than attempting to repeat what Shanks had done so dramatically earlier in the game, he tried to take the ball round the advancing Ashton, but the keeper forced him wide and then blocked his shot.

Cottrell twice threatened the Bay goal in the closing stages of the half, but after blazing his first effort high over the bar, his second attempt was confidently held by Jennison.

Whitley had done exceptionally well to be ahead at the interval but, as might have been expected, Chorley came flying out of the blocks in the second half.

Former Newcastle United striker Lewis Guy was replaced by Marcus Carver, on loan from League Two Accrington Stanley, as the visitors switched from 4-3-3 and played four men up front.

The move quickly paid dividends as they levelled the score within four minutes, Andy Bond racing in from the right, and after his first attempt was blocked, he rifled home into the top of the net from close range.

Whitley responded immediately, and when Kempster broke away down the left, he was tripped 25 yards from goal, with Teague cautioned for the offence.

The resultant free-kick came to nothing, and after their next attack, Chorley were in front.

A lightning break upfield saw Mark Ross cross from the right, with Jake Cottrell sending a glancing header beyond Jennison into the far corner of the net.

Two goals in three minutes had turned the game around completely, and many Bay fans must have been fearing the worst.

However, as has been seen a number of times already this season, the current Whitley side are made of stern stuff and were certainly not prepared to let their heads drop.

With 58 minutes gone, Carver struck the base of the post with a shot that had Jennison beaten, but then Kempster got the better of Ross and drove a low ball across goal, and Shanks was almost through on goal but was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Charnock.

The danger from Chorley was ever present, and when a deep cross from the left just cleared Michael Laws, Winter skied the ball into the allotments.

Chris McDonald then forced Bond to head behind as Whitley pushed forward, urged on by an ever-vocal near-800-strong crowd.

With 19 minutes left, Whitley drew level when Kempster played a perfect ball across the face of goal from near the left corner flag, and Shanks was on hand to head home at the back post, sparking exuberant celebrations both on and off the pitch.

It was all to play for again, and as they threw men forward, it briefly looked as if Whitley might snatch a sensational victory, but after Carver saw a second attempt strike the frame of the goal, this time the bar, a rapid break from defence caught Whitley out.

The pace of Dean set up the chance, and when Jennison blocked his scuffed shot, Darren Stephenson poked home the loose ball from barely two yards out.

Dean had a chance to put the game beyond Whitley three minutes later, but Jennison forced him wide, and the Chorley striker’s tame effort struck the side-netting.

A sliced clearance by Charnock almost proved costly, but Ashton, racing back from the edge of his area, was relieved to grab the ball under pressure from Shanks.

Blake then drilled the ball across goal, but Ashton’s diving save averted the danger.

Whitley kept going to the final whistle, but in the end they were not quite good enough against a strong, fast and physical side.

Whitley Bay: Jennison, Flynn, McDonald, Anderson, Laws(Young 89mins), Reid(Blake 37mins), Lumsden (Day 58mins), Bertram, Shanks, Hughes, Kempster. Subs not used: Watson, Gladstone, Richardson.