Lowestoft's Wembley dream is over

Michael Bailey Lowestoft Town 1, Whitley Bay 1, aggregate Lowestoft Town 2, Whitley Bay 3: Lowestoft Town's FA Vase dream is over after 10-man Whitley Bay secured the draw they needed to win a trip to Wembley. The semi-final second leg, in front of 2,250 fans at Crown Meadow saw plenty of incident, but it was the side from Hillheads who will be going to the famous arch on May 10.

Michael Bailey

Lowestoft Town's FA Vase dream is over after 10-man Whitley Bay secured the draw they needed to win a trip to Wembley. The semi-final second leg, in front of 2,250 fans at Crown Meadow saw plenty of incident, but it was the side from Hillheads who will be going to the famous arch on May 10.

Lowestoft named an unchanged side for today's crucial match, with the same five substitutes and Carl Poppy at right back, whose suspension from his Hillheads' red card does not kick in until after today's game. The visitors however, did make changes with strikers Adam Johnston and Phil Bell promoted to the starting 11, while first leg scorer Paul Chow was dropped to the bench.

With a 2-1 deficit from the first leg Town made a start they could barely have dreamt of as a fifth minute Marsden's free-kick from the left was floated in. Stock's header brought a casual clearance from Bell which hit DARREN COCKRILL and levelled the semi-final on aggregate.


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But the early goal sparked the visitors into life as Johnston's drive drew a superb one-armed save from keeper Andy Reynolds and Leon Ryan should have done better with a free header. On 14 minutes Bay had the goal their early play deserved as Kerr's corner from the Town right was met powerfully by RYAN, whose header went in off the underside of the bar giving Reynolds no chance.

With the play becoming direct and scrappy it was d�j� vu as Godbold and Kerr challenged for a loose ball. The Bay player's two feet were deemed enough to draw a straight red card from referee Graham Scott as Crown Meadow roared in what was a mirror image of Poppy's dismissal seven days ago, reactions included.

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Gary McGee clipped the crossbar as he lunged, after good work from Richard Woodrow as Town finally strung a decent move together, while Moore jinked his way into the Blue's box before testing Reynolds. Finally Stock's delightful ball almost put Godbold in as the half came to an end level.

t Half-time Lowestoft Town 1, Whitley Bay 1

Four minutes after the break saw McGee become the third player to go in the referee's notebook alongside Hunn and Dale Cockrill, after his foot met Lee Picton's head and moments later Ryan should have put the tie beyond the Blues.

Town failed to clear their lines and as the ball bobbled in the six-yard box the defender blasted wide when he looked certain to score.

Lowestoft had made a slow start to the second half but as the clock ticked away their one-man advantage started to tell as Bay sat deeper.

Godbold, given a freer role, was pulling the strings as Town huffed and puffed but continued to struggle against Bay's 10 men and substitute Chris Fawcett should have done better when given a sight of the home goal on 66 minutes.

Whitley sub Chow escaped with only a booking after tough challenges on Reynolds and Marsden, while Bradley Hough came on for Town and almost helped create immediately, but Scott could only prod over.

Bay had a penalty appeal turned down after the ball struck Darren Cockrill's hand in the area, while McFarlane and Chow both looked like settling matters in the final ten minutes, only to be denied by some last ditch defending from Town.

Stock's flick found Darren Cockrill but he blasted over, something Town had been guilty of on several occasions. Reynolds made another great stop in injury time from Chow, while Woodrow's 20 yarder looped onto the bar in the dying moments.

But Whitley's supreme effort brought another mirror image - this time from Hillheads last season, as the final whistle saw the visiting fans and players invade the Crown Meadow pitch and deservedly book a place at Wembley, at Lowestoft's expense.

t Result: Lowestoft Town 1, Whitley Bay 1, aggregate Lowestoft Town 2, Whitley Bay 3

t Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Poppy, Marsden, Woodrow, Plaskett, Darren Cockrill, Godbold, Dale Cockrill, Stock, McGee, Hunn.

Subs: King, Saunders, Potter, Hough, Attridge.

t Whitley Bay: Burke, Taylor, Picton, McFarlane, Coulson, Ryan, Moore, Robson, Bell, Kerr, Johnston.

Subs: Robinson, Reay, Chow, Fawcett, McLean.

t Ref: Graham Scott, Oxfordshire.

Att: 2,250

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