Cold? In the Bay? No way! Today was a glorious September day. The Sun was out and the wind gentle. There were shirt sleeves galore, and shorts, on offer as we entered the ground. A healthy crowd gathered in anticipation; later numbered 608. The Bay was actually excited about the cup. The previous round's fightback against Penrith had been a cracker and the hope was that we were in for another belter. The only disappointment about the crowd was that it numbered the injured Professor Wilkinson, 'Robo' Robertson and Callum Anderson: all resplendent in their fine Bay tracksuits. Each claimed it would be a 'couple of weeks' before they were back. Today was going to be a tough one so the lads who were fit would have to be on their metal today.
|Whitley is excited for |
the big FA Cup game!
|Extra preliminary round winners||(185)|
|Preliminary round winners||(160)|
|First round qualifying winners||(116)|
|Second Round Qualifying winners||(80)|
|Third Round Qualifying winners||(40)|
|Fourth Round Qualifying winners||(32)|
|First Round Proper winners||(40)|
|Second Round Proper winners||(20)|
|Third Round Proper winners||(32)|
|Fourth Round Proper winners||(16)|
|Fifth Round Proper winners||(8)|
Benfield and West Allotment fan Long-Haired Andrew was in attendance along with his son, who had obviously been sitting in compost as he had shot up in height since our last meeting. Who knew children grew? They joined us behind the Benfield goal and had a wonderful view of old timer Brayson's over-the-shoulder-hook-cum-volley-looping-lob that sailed over the helpless Flynn in the Whitley goal in the 3rd minute. If ever there was a bad omen, it was that. An incredible shot, it summed up how the afternoon was going to pan out for the Bay. The lads tried to impose their style of play onto the match but there were too many passes astray and any crosses were far too close to keeper Grainger and the confident keeper was in no mood to let anything go. Both sides huffed and puffed and it was Flynn who had to be on his metal to save the Bay against danger-man Brayson. In fact the highlight of the first half from a Whitley point of view was when the referee told Benfield's one man wall that he could either "protect his balls or face depending which he valued most". He needn't have worried as Whitley's freekick sailed high and wide.
It looked like a half time rollocking and second half fightback would be on the cards until the otherwise reliable Haley back flicked the ball high towards the disbelieving Flynn, who was in no-man's land. Benfield's Mccarthy got there before Flynn so, in first half injury time, the Bay were 2-0 down and in need of a miracle. Even the sun disappeared as Running Keith, who had joined us once again, regretted not bringing a duvet.
Dominant Grainger ....
Things improved slightly for the Bay in the second half but the best chance fell to substitute Jasper who latched onto a ball in the penalty area. However, his half volley drifted wide. This was not our day. No matter how hard the lads battled, they just couldn't find that killer pass and in the absence of Callum Patton and the still-on-holiday Thibault didn't look like clawing back one, never mind two goals.
The game finished with a whimper and my dreams of a double Wembley trip were over for another year.
Despite the obvious effort the lads put in, the creativity was lacking. This is still a very young side and they will learn from this experience, I'm sure Nash and Woody will make sure of it. It only goes to show how important the missing players are to the Bay. The sooner they come back, the better!
Benfield deserved their win and looked tight, compact with the evergreen Brayson up front. Good luck to them in the next round!
|The Bay recovers from the shock of exiting the FA Cup!|