Whitley Bay 5
Bridlington Town 1
BRIDLINGTON Town’s Wembley dream turned into a nightmare at Hillheads Park as Whitley Bay gave them a lesson in clinical finishing, although some refereeing decisions didn’t help the Seasiders’ cause.
Town, in fact, could have been two goals to the good by the time Bay’s leading marksman Paul Chow put them in front.
Mitch Cook reverted to his usual line-up with Frank Belt dropping to the bench and Darren Clough failing to find a place in the squad.
The game was preceded by a one minute round of applause in memory of the late Newcastle favourite Gary Speed.
Whitley Bay played the numbers game with several of their players not playing in the conventional positions that their shirt numbers indicated and number four Robbie Dale was soon making his presence felt down the left flank as he twice skipped past Billy Logan and sent in crosses that were eventually cleared.
Town should have taken the lead after only four minutes when Ash Allanson played the ball inside to Craig Hogg who made ground to the edge of the area before releasing Josh Greening in on goalkeeper Kyle Hayes.
With the goal practically at his mercy Greening contrived to hit the crossbar when he really should have put his side in front.
Defender Gareth Williams, wearing number nine, played a pass out of defence to find recent signing Chris Fawcett free on the right and his centre, not for the first time, was headed away by Craig Palmer.
The game was end to end at this time and two crosses were wasted for Town by Greening and Bennett who both hit them long and behind then Hogg had a shot from the edge of the penalty area well stopped by Hayes with David Coulson completing the clearance.
The home side went in front after fifteen minutes when leading scorer Paul Chow regained possession from a lucky deflection 25 yards out, but there was nothing lucky about the strike that he rifled past Mark Wilberforce.
Whitley went in search of another and Paul Robinson put an effort just past the far post following a corner on the right.
Town gained a corner from Hogg’s deflected shot with Coulson heading the flag kick behind for another one, which was headed over by Wayne Aziz.
Chow showed good control to turn and hit an attempt on goal that was blocked by Danny Brunton but on 26 minutes the striker played the ball down the right to Fawcett and his low cross was turned past Wilberforce by the unfortunate Aziz as he attempted to get ahead of the incoming Whitley forwards.
Hogg volleyed just over after Fleming and Allanson had combined but the hosts hit back with Robinson heading over a Dale free kick, after the winger had gone to ground, and Wilberforce produced a great save to tip over a stinging shot from Fawcett.
Palmer headed a Dale free kick away for a corner but then two quick goals put the home side well in command.
After 37 minutes Chow seemed to go down too easily under a challenge from Aziz but the referee’s assistant signalled a penalty, although if there was an offence it appeared to be outside the area.
Chow picked himself up to covert the spot-kick even though Wilberforce managed to get a hand to it.
Two minutes later David Coulson got in ahead of Wilberforce to head home a Robbie Dale free kick, awarded for another innocuous challenge, as the Seahorses turned the screw.
The goalkeeper was probably a little at fault but redeemed himself by making a good stop from Chow as he raced clear and then caught a long range effort from Dale.
Town were being out-manoeuvred in midfield but just before the interval they managed to pull a goal back when Wayne Aziz headed in an Allanson right wing free kick and then another dead ball kick, given after Bennett was fouled by Damon Robson, was headed clear by Coulson.
Early in the second half Wilberforce, after seeing the ball late, made a good save from Scroggins and caught Fawcett’s low shot from outside the area after Palmer had lost possession.
Logan dragged a shot wide then supplied Hogg who drove weakly at Hayes and Bennett hit a 20-yard free kick just too high after Hogg had been pushed over by Lee Kerr.
Both sides made substitutions with Chris Reid and Frank Belt replacing Chow and Brunton respectively.
Although having scored 18 goals this season this was the 13th time Chow had been replaced in 22 starts.
Dale was still causing problems down the left and turned Aziz twice before Fleming came to the rescue.
Another poor decision gave the home side a free kick and from Dale’s accurate kick Fawcett acrobatically hooked the ball into the net but justice was done with a flag raised for offside.
Aziz stopped Reid when he got the better of Logan and Fleming shot wide after Allanson had taken a quick free kick.
Robbie Hawkes came on in place of Greening and soon won a corner that was cleared off the line by Coulson only for Logan to put the loose ball over the top.
Dale also missed the target when he latched on to a misguided Allanson pass and surged forward to deliver a wayward shot.
The game became rather scrappy and Town were making little impact on a solid defence although a mix up between Hayes and substitute Gary Ormston almost let them in.
Town’s miserable afternoon was complete twelve minutes from the end when a pass from Dale to Fawcett was deflected for a corner and from the kick Coulson lost his marker to head in. Whitley were now cruising and Aziz made a good tackle to halt Kerr while Logan just got to a free kick ahead of Ormston to concede a corner.
The final score flattered the Vase holders, somewhat, as their opponents had matched them at times by playing some nice football but they had lacked the killer punch and again defensive frailties were to the fore. Possibly a 3-1 result would have been a fairer reflection of the game.
Town now have back-to-back games against Winterton Rangers to get their league campaign back on track before taking on their tenants and present league leaders Scarborough Athletic at 1pm on Boxing Day.