So, today, I was not relishing the visit of the 'big boys' from Morpeth. Their fanbase is still growing on the back of their Wembley Vase victory and their ground is picturesque but low on capacity. On the pitch they have a strong team that the Bay have struggled to match recently. Two 3-2 defeats at the 'Peth may seem close in scoreline but in the Northumberland Senior Cup especially we were extremely lucky not to lose by more and only some saves from the flying Flynn and last ditch defending from a fearless Bay defence kept the lads in the game.
First topic of conversation: Aldi! Again!! Entering the car park it was once more packed. Saturday Aldi shoppers? Can't you use your own car park? Having just watched the first half hour of my French team RC Lens and witnessed them losing 2-0 at home to the crocodiles from Nimes; I was in an angry, and maybe slightly petty, mood and that was after recovering from the Trumpiness over the pond. Does he realise what his surname actually means in the Queen's English?
However, it was great to see more hard work had been applied to the pitch and the conversation with
|Rolled, cut and dedivoted!|
It was also good to see, for the second home match running the return of Russ: the supporting legend of the Vase era. He was in a fine, lubricated voice too and thoroughly proved my theory that sound can travel faster than light. Managing to organise his work to get to the match was the Bay's gain.
Talk of the pitch turned to the vision of not one but three versions of wrestling's Stone Cold Steve Austin! The bonces of the nearest linesman, referee and Morpeth's Keith Graydon all glinted in the fading afternoon sun to add extra spice to our off-track conversation. This went further off-piste, so to speak, as the subject of the original Steve Austin: the six million dollar man crept in. What were his bionic powers? Later on, the subject of the bionic woman came up and her super powers? Glad to say, Russ could recite the whole of the opening sequence to the original 70s series. Time well spent studying there! Of course a quick search on Google sorted out our conundrum on powers during a quieter moment of the first half.
The lads looked up for the game and were not giving any quarter but still flying Flynn had to be quick off the mark twice in the opening quarter of an hour to race out and clear from advancing strikers. The first occasion, the ball rebounded kindly for the Morpeth forward who shot past Tom but thankfully SuperMac was back to clear off the line. Flynn was then called on to make a fingertip save to keep out another spectacular effort.
The Bay were giving as good they got and new boy Gilbey's run into the box and pass found Peter Glen Ravenhill (PHR). Unfortunately, despite the pitch's good condition, he couldn't pull the ball from out of his feet and his shot lacked power and was easily collected by the green-clad (or was it yellow?) Dryden in the Morpeth goal.
There was better to follow when a bit of magic from both Potter and Thibault ended up with Professor Wilko heading home. Bay in take lead shocker!
It could have been better a couple of minutes later but PHR's shot flashed wide after great work from Tom Gilbey, racing through on the Bay's right hand wing. They were both working hard and almost had their reward.
Our jollity and merriment lasted four minutes before Morpeth's Mark Davidson rose unchallenged to head home. 1-1. There was time for the mesmerising Gilbey to clear off the line as Morpeth pressed hard for the lead. Still it was better than we had expected: the lads were level at half time and we had taken the lead.
The Bay kept Morpeth waiting so there was plenty of time to discuss the farce that had been South Shields v Morpeth in the FA Vase with my 'Peth fan Keith. He, along with many others, had been stunned when their game had been replayed after 'Peth had just scored to lead 4-2 against 10 men Shields when the floodlights had mysteriously failed. Losing the replayed game 4-0, hastily organised at Morpeth in barely 4 hours, had exacerbated him, although his daughter, Eve didn't seem as concerned and a lot calmer about the affair.
There was more acrobatics from Flynn, saving another one v one, as Morpeth pressed. The visitors were not having everything their own way as two close offsides deprived the Bay of goalscoring chances. However it was Tommy Flynn who was working overtime, acting as an extra sweeper then racing back to make saves on his line. On 77 minutes he performed more heroics as he sprang acrobatically with a diving-swing-spring save to keep the scores level.
Finally, the pressure paid as man of the match Flynn was caught out of position, after another super save, and Sean Taylor scored into the empty section of the goal.
But still the Bay weren't finished and a belter from SuperMacD was palmed away by Dryden.
The 2-1 win hadn't flattered the visitors but the lads had worked hard and all over the pitch there were great signs that the Nash/Woodhouse/Moore era was bearing fruit with a greater emphasis on playing confident football. The aim now is to not to panic and support the management trion both on and off the field and allow them time to develop this young, talented team. If the lads can stay together for next season then all the hard work will be worth it. Just need to get a few wins to get the confidence to go with the hard work. Easy!
Btw: Well done on your Man of December award, Tom Potter! Magic and fully deserved!