Whitley Bay leave it late to earn FA Cup replay

Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks closes in on goal against Ryhope CW.
Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks closes in on goal against Ryhope CW.

After conceding an early goal Whitley Bay looked to be on their way out of this year’s FA Cup until a late equaliser.

For the second time in less than a week, and with just nine minutes remaining, skipper Michael Laws delivered the goods with a header to level the score and set up a replay at Ryhope on Tuesday evening.

Second division Ryhope have started the season in fine style, scoring ten times in their first two games, and it took them just three minutes to capitalise on sloppy defending and get their noses in front.

With Chris Reid and Callum Anderson both injured, and Peter Watling off to Dubai, Whitley had to make changes from the 11 that started at Durham in midweek.

But those changes could not excuse their poor start and failure to deal with a long throw into the Bay goalmouth from the right.

With no defender challenging to head clear, the action appeared to be in slow motion as the ball fell for Conor Winter, whose looping shot over Andy Jennison dipped just under the bar, much to the delight of the visitors.

The only consolation for Whitley was that they still had 87 minutes to get back in the game, but it gave Ryhope something to hang on to.

Sam Norris provided a threat down the right and with 14 minutes played, his ball into the box was chipped just wide of the target by Adam Shanks.

Midway through the half, a Bay corner was partially cleared but Michael Laws latched onto the ball only to see his effort blocked.

Whitley almost levelled after 28 minutes when Shanks met a Norris cross with a superbly struck volley that was heading for the top corner until keeper Chris Rookes pulled off a great save, pushing the ball away from danger.

Two minutes later Shanks had a header saved following good work from Steve Gibson.

Another half chance came the way of Shanks when he was played clear but Rookes raced out and just beat him to the ball.

The visitors were a threat on the break, with Jack Pounder using his pace down the left but Jennison was not seriously troubled and at the interval there was still just the one goal separating the sides.

Early in the second half, a surprise tactical substitution saw Shanks, who had looked to be Whitley’s most likely source of a goal, replaced by midfielder John Redhead.

The change was clearly not popular with the fans and it did not appear to help Whitley’s prospects.

Ryhope were content to use the long ball approach over the Bay defence and twice it nearly paid dividends as Pounder found himself clear on goal with only Jennison to beat.

Both times he tried to lob the Bay keeper but both times he was denied as Jennison made acrobatic saves which were to prove crucial.

The longer the game went on the more Whitley tried the same long ball approach, but it proved ineffective against a tall and strong defensive unit, which included Leon Ryan, who was making his first return to Hillheads since resigning as Bay manager last December.

As at Durham in midweek, Whitley never gave up, and with nine minutes left their persistence was rewarded.

Keeping the ball on the ground and stretching the tiring Ryhope defence, they won a corner on the right and when Norris floated the ball across goal, Laws seized his chance, sending a header through a crowded goalmouth into the corner of the net beyond the reach of Rookes, who appeared to be distracted by the presence of Kris Goss in the six-yard box.

The goal was greeted with a mixture of celebration and relief by the Bay following, who now seemed content to see their side get a second bite of the cherry at Ryhope in midweek.

Paddy Atkinson did not hide his disappointment at the performance, in particular the Ryhope goal.

“The ball seemed to be in the air for an age, the lads just didn’t deal with it,” he said.

“It was a slow motion goal. This is something we’ll need to analyse over the next few weeks.”

“I didn’t think they (Ryhope) provided too much of a threat.

They’re a big team and they way they played was the long ball rather than passing out of defence.”

Regarding the substitution of Adam Shanks, Atkinson said: “Adam played well, he’s had two or three chances but he’s not getting that bit of luck.

“I took him off tactically to try and shake things up as there was too much long ball.

“They’re all good players but some of them are a lot better than they played today.

“We were only creating chances down the right but we should be doing it from other areas of the pitch.

“The lads stuck at it well and that shows the character of the team but with the injuries and Peter Watling gone we’re missing that bit of quality at the moment.

“I think I’ll need to bring in one or two to strengthen the squad.”

Whitley Bay: Jennison, Gibson, McDonald, Hughes, Laws, Flynn, Norris, Bertram, Goss, Shanks (Redhead 52), Kempster (Young 88). Subs not used: Gladstone, Day, Prosser.