Sunday, 7 December 2014

December 2014 Dunston (H) FA Vase 3rd round

December 20014 

Dunston (h) FA Vase 3rd round

Reading the papers:
Saturday morning
It had been a strange feeling watching Jarrett Rivers score the winner for Blyth against Hartlepool the previous night in the FA Cup. Having watched him do the same for the Bay the previous year and hoping somehow that Bob's prediction about him "not staying long with us" didn't come true. On one hand there was the pride that I had actually witnessed him playing for us and here he was on live television. On the other there was the selfish Whitley Bay fan anticipating today's FA Vase cup tie. The FA Cup was all very well but for me it was the Vase that counted. Having never seen the Bay reach further than 2nd qualifying round there wasn't the thought that maybe we could actually win it. Yes we could have a great day out and maybe cause a shock like in 1989-90 when they reached the 3rd round, beating Preston and Scarbrough but winning at Wembley is precious memory and one I wanted to experience again.
The FA Vase is a competition for the minnows and as such is our chance to shine. Last season's run was disappointing in that we lost in the third round - again to Dunston. Maybe we had come to expect too much after those three Wembley wins but it was hard to keep your feet on the ground after those giddy days. How many supporters could claim to have won the ultimate prize in their calendar three times in a row? Having only begun watching the Bay the season of the first success in 2009, I had not seen them win the Northern League in 1991, however for me a cup final at Wembley would outweigh any league success - no matter how much harder it may have been to achieve. The last few years the Bay hadn't lived up to the heights of 2009-2011. A 2-1 5th round defeat in sad circumstances to West Auckland in 2012 will be remembered for a terrible tackle that threatened to end a young player's career while a shock away defeat to Brantham Athletic the following season in the 4th round ended our hopes in 2013. That was followed by last season's 3rd round defeat to Dunston. A match that had ended a a great run of six wins on the trot for the Bay and also featured the return of Bay favourite Chris Moore to the team. From a Bay perspective there had been nothing left to shout about and the let-down of the season. (Conveniently forgetting a disastrous trip to St James Park for a League Cup final defeat to Marske). Today I had convinced myself was payback time! I was up for it...were the players?
The crowd of just over 400 was slightly disappointing considering the match's billing as the tie of the round but then we were up against some other game being played in the big toon.
The first thing that became obvious was that the players hadn't put on the right boots - preferring plimsolls to actual boots as the majority of Whitley players seemed to be slipping over whenever they set off with the ball. Dunston had worn their extra long studs because they didn't seem to have any problems at all. A workmanlike performance from the visitors seemed to be causing Whitley no end of problems as the players toiled without much of an end result. The one exception proved to be Brad Brooking who looked dangerous whenever he got the ball but then made the mistake of passing it to another Whitley player who would then slip or lose control. The obvious thing would be to blame the pitch...which we did. Because the pitch looked heavy the ball spent most of its time in the air and as the wise sages from 90s punk band The Sultans of Ping once said in honour of Nottingham Forest legend Nigel Clough:
"If God meant game to be played up there
He would've put goal posts in the air
If God meant game to be played up high
He would've built pitches in the sky."

What we needed was a Nigel Clough and our Nigel Clough was Paul Robinson, however he didn't come up with the goods having not played in the previous three games due to a three match ban.
The worried hands of fate!
By half time we were 2-0 down and after a quick move of my chair to the opposite side of the New Stand we discussed the failings of the team. The change of Kempster for Godsmark seemed to boost things up a bit and the appearance of the old war horse Chow had some effect as he managed to get a head to a few of the long balls but far too often the midfield didn't move up with the attack so the big gap in the middle of the field became the reserve of the Dunston team.
We were resigned to defeat and then Watling raced into the box and the slow motion ref (who seemed to take his time to blow his whistle all afternoon) awarded us a penalty...were the hands of fate turning?
Chow stepped up and blasted it high into the left hand corner of the net. Could the comeback kings do it again? Unfortunately the answer was no. The final five minutes seemed to be spent with Dunston taking a liking to the corner of the pitch in the Whitley end and that was that. The end of our dream for another year!
The unhappy wander to the car...all passing in a blur!
There was worse to follow for the Boy Mark who, after we listened to 5Live and the Toon's 2-1 win over unbeaten Chelsea...
we were informed that his beloved Blackburn Rovers 1 - Sheffield Wednesday 2....It was all too much! There was nothing left to do but....

...we faced defeat like men...not!

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