Lowestoft book trip to Wembley
Whitley Bay 3, Lowestoft Town 0: Lowestoft Town are going to Wembley after they survived a hellish afternoon in Whitley Bay. The northeastern side made a dream start to the second leg of the FA Vase semi going three-nil up inside the first 20 minutes.
Lowestoft Town are going to Wembley after they survived a hellish afternoon in Whitley Bay. The northeastern side made a dream start to the second leg of the FA Vase semi going three-nil up inside the first 20 minutes. But Jamie Godbold's last-minute goal at Crown Meadow seven days ago proved to be one goal too many for Bay to make up and the Suffolk side put bodies on the line to seal one more chapter in their historic Vase run and hero of the hour was keeper Andy Reynolds who, despite clearly struggling with his heavily strapped hip, made several saves to preserve Town's aggregate lead.
The big team news before kick-off was the dramatic inclusion of keeper Andy Reynolds who made a miraculous recovery from his dislocated hip in last week's first leg to start in goal. Lowestoft also had Matty Potter and Darren Cockerill back from injury and suspension respectively, with Reece Hunn and Ryan Bloomfield dropped to the bench. Meanwhile Whitley Bay were missing defender Brian Rowe following his first leg sending off but they did have Lee Picton available to return to their starting line-up.
Lowestoft Town, playing in all white, kicked off under immediate pressure by Whitley Bay as they rushed out of the blocks clearly with a point to prove and they started to make that point after only four minutes when a long throw from Picton from the right caused problems in the Lowestoft box.
BRIAN SMITH nodded across a static Reynolds and into the far corner.
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And it got worse four minutes later when PAUL ROBINSON picked up the ball in the centre of Town's half and drilled an unstoppable shot past the Town keeper and off the underside of the crossbar to send Hillhead's believing in a memorable turnaround.
It was a nightmare start for the vociferous away fans who had seen their side's first leg advantage pass within the first 10 minutes of the second leg.
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Whitley Bay were opening up Lowestoft with alarming regularity and on 12 minutes Taylor sent a long shot from the right into Reynolds' far post but they didn't have long to wait for their third when PAUL CHOW headed in from another long throw on 19 minutes and Town were on the ropes.
Whitley Bay looked a completely different outfit to the one the Blues despatched in the first leg but Lowestoft finally had an effort of their own on goal.
However, Jamie Godbold's left-foot curler wouldn't come down quick enough. Whitley Bay had their chances to level the tie most notably Paul Chow who was put through on two occasions. Once he was denied by an excellent one-on-one save by Reynolds, a second time he prodded the ball wide when he really should have scored.
Although Reynolds had made a dramatic recovery from his hip injury he was clearly struggling with his movement. Whitley Bay continued to press as the half wore on and Lowestoft were playing deep and giving the ball away cheaply but somehow they got to half-time with one of their four-goal lead intact.
t Half-time: Whitley Bay 3, Lowestoft Town 0
The second half started with Neil Plaskett taking Reynolds' goal kicks and with Town looking a little more cohesive. But Whitely Bay's long balls were still earning the home side some good chances.
On 50 minutes Lee Kerr sent the ball across goal and with Reynolds stranded again Picton could only drive his close-range effort over the bar before putting his head in his hands.
Lowestoft made their first change two minutes later with Gary McGee replacing Russell Stock. But Whitley Bay were trying to force the issue and Reynolds made another cracking save this time from Kerr's header.
The Lowestoft keeper stayed down after making the save but was somehow fit enough to continue.
The game was getting cagey now with Lowestoft keeping the home side at bay and McGee providing a much better link with the midfield which led to the home side making their first change, Woodhouse replacing Moore just after the hour mark.
Two minutes later two successive Robinson corners kept Town on the back foot but from the second one Smith could only skew the ball high over the Town crossbar when it looked easier to score.
The first booking arrived on 70 minutes when Graham was booked for a rash challenge on Godbold. Whitley Bay made their second change of the afternoon with Minto replacing Moore on 72 minutes while McGee was shown a yellow after he went for the ball with Bay keeper Burke.
Reynolds was crowned hero again as he made a wonderful save from Robinson's piledriver as time began to run out for the home side. They continued to press but the Town line were throwing everything in the way with Neil Plaskett getting his head to clear several wicked Robinson crosses. Whitley Bay were launching the ball into the Lowestoft area as quickly as they could and with four minutes of injury time they sensed they could still keep the tie alive but when Smith could only head wide from Robinson's corner in the dying minutes it proved to by Bay's last chance and the Trawler boys invaded the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate a semi-final win and a place at Wembley that looked so unlikely earlier on in the afternoon.
t Result: Whitley Bay 3, Lowestoft Town 0
t Whitley Bay: Burke, Taylor, Picton, Smith, Coulson (capt) Graham, Moore, Robson, Chow, Kerr, Robinson.
Subs: Minto, Dugdale, Livermore, Woodhouse and Douglas,
t Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Poppy, Potter, Woodrow, Saunders (capt) Plaskett, Godbold, Darren Cockrill, Stock, Hough, King.
Subs: McGee, McKenna, Hunn, Bloomfield and Rix.
t Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Preston)