Plenty of sympathy for Blues

Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler had plenty of sympathy for Lowestoft after his side secured a place in the FA Vase final. The Seasiders lost out to the Trawlerboys at the semi-final stage last season, but this year it was Whitley's turn to celebrate a place at Wembley on their opponents' home soil, despite playing for more than an hour with only 10 men.

Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler had plenty of sympathy for Lowestoft after his side secured a place in the FA Vase final.

The Seasiders lost out to the Trawlerboys at the semi-final stage last season, but this year it was Whitley's turn to celebrate a place at Wembley on their opponents' home soil, despite playing for more than an hour with only 10 men.

"We've ground, we've fought and we were defensively fantastic," said the Whitley manager. "Even the forwards have ran their socks off, and there was everything, everything you could've wanted in a game - well, for a neutral. Not for me; I was dying on the sidelines.

"It wasn't so bad for me last year, being 4-0 down going into the second leg, so it was a big straw I was clutching at. Inwardly I'd already resigned myself to the fact we'd lost. But I can sympathise with Lowestoft, because the first leg down here last season I was on the floor.


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"The sending off was a dagger blow but I had a good feeling. The lads were desperate to put last year's mistakes right and they've ground it out. It's a great feeling."

Chandler has already tasted Vase success with Whitley, scoring their winner in the 2002 final at Villa Park.

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"I scored the goal and I thought I'd never surpass that, but this beats that hands down," said Chandler.

"I know they had Craig Fleming doing their fitness work and they did look improved on last year, but you don't play non-league football and just turn up on the day.

"We work Tuesday, Thursday, Tuesday, Thursday and we've got good fitness coaches ourselves. We knew we could run, we've played with 10 men quite often in the past, so we know we can play with 10 men and win."

Leon Ryan said his first half equaliser was the kind of thing he had been dreaming of.

"Fairytale stuff; I had one about two or three minutes earlier and I should've scored, and at the back of my mind I didn't want to be the one who missed a chance that didn't take us there," admitted Ryan. "I was lucky enough to get a good connection on it. It's the best feeling I've ever had.

"They've taken it in great grace, shaking our hands and saying, 'go on and win it'. I don't know if we would've been so humble but that's football.

"It was a really good game and we take our hat off to them, they gave us a really good go. But in the end it was our year."

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