Whitley Bay return to winnnig ways with victory over Subnderland RCA

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When he returned to Hillheads earlier this year, Ian Chandler said he wanted his team to entertain the fans.

With yet another late comeback they are certainly doing that but perhaps in a more nail biting fashion than he had imagined!

Sunderland RCA came to Hillheads in excellent form, level on points at the top of the table.

And they immediately showed their intentions with Steven Callen forcing a save from Tom Flynn after only 45 seconds.

They suffered a blow when captain Colin Larkin had to be replaced after only six minutes but undeterred, they kept up the pressure and went ahead in the 11th minute when Callen’s shot from the left crashed off the inside of the far post and into the net.

Davis then saw a free kick pushed clear by Flynn but Whitley drew level in the 20th minute when Alex Kempster, on the edge of the 18-yard box, got his head to a ball from Jake Fowler and flicked it beyond keeper Neal Bussey into the corner of the net.

The Ryhope side restored their lead in somewhat controversial circumstances just three minutes later. Adam Shanks broke through on goal and appeared to be tripped as he approached the penalty area.

Referee John Matthews put the whistle to his mouth but at the last moment changed his mind and allowed play to continue.

With Whitley baffled by his decision, the action quickly switched to the other end and with Flynn unsighted, Jonathan Davis slotted the ball home from 10 yards.

On the half hour, Whitley almost drew level again but Fryatt’s swerving shot clipped the post with Bussey beaten.

Aiden Haley then fired a 25-yard effort just over the bar but six minutes before the interval, play was held up for treatment to Shanks after the Bay striker was fouled in a bad challenge that earned Davis a yellow card.

Callum Anderson limped off shortly before half time with an ankle injury and was replaced by Ryan Keltie.

Whitley attacked relentlessly in the second half, but a resolute Ryhope defence kept them out although Shanks and McDonald both went close.

The introduction of Andy Robertson on the hour added a greater physical presence to the Bay attack but still the visitors held firm.

A perfect through ball from Patton reached Shanks but his shot went inches past the post and then a great run down the wing by Kempster briefly threatened to open up the opposition rearguard.

With RCA doing their best to slow play down and run down the clock, it was beginning to look as if it was not going to be Whitley’s night but this Bay side refuse to give up and their persistence finally paid off with just five minutes remaining, when Shanks broke through on goal only to be brought down by Steven Stewart.

Mr Matthews awarded a penalty and Stewart received a second yellow card and was sent off.

Keeper Bussey, who was also cautioned for protesting about the decision, was comfortably beaten by Callum Patton’s spot kick and Whitley were back on level terms.

Two minutes from time, only a superb clearance by Danny Lane, racing back to clear the ball off the line, kept out a looping effort from Shanks but in the last minute of the ninety, substitute Ross Wilkinson seized on a ball in the box and struck it low just inside the near post for a dramatic winner.

It was the third time in five games that he has scored a crucial last minute goal and it gave Whitley a well deserved victory, with the 267 strong crowd giving the team a standing ovation at the final whistle.

Every player contributed to the win, with Ryan Keltie impressing in his first appearance of the season other than the final five minutes of the South Shields game two weeks ago.

WHITLEY BAY: Flynn, Gibson(Wilkinson 75mins), Haley, Eleftheriadis, Anderson(Keltie 44mins), Fryatt(Robertson 60mins), Fowler, Shanks, Patton, Kempster

Subs not used: Blake, Potter

Referee: John Matthews

Cautions: None