FootballNorthern League

Ten-men Whickham too strong for West Auckland

Whickham produced a second half defensive masterclass after being reduced to ten-men before half-time. The home team holding firm to claim a 2-0 victory at The First Mortgage Glebe. 

Two goals from Nathan Greenwood including a second half penalty secured all three points for the Lang Jacks. 

Whickham’s top goal-scorer Zak Atkinson received a straight red card two-minutes before half-time. The striker was deemed to have put his hand in the face of an opposition player. 

Both teams came into the game following defeats last time out – Whickham’s first under new manager Tony Fawcett. 

The home team started the stronger – Scott Robson and Nathan Greenwood combined well down the left, before finding Atkinson in the box. The striker’s effort testing Sam Guthrie in the West Auckland goal. 

Scott Robson was at it again down the left a minute later, his shot was palmed into the six-yard area by Guthrie. The loose ball fell to Atkinson who was unable to steer over the line before West Auckland cleared.  

West Auckland almost took the lead after 20 minutes. Jordan Blinco ran onto a through ball down the left, leaving him one-on-one with James Anderson between the Whickham posts. However, Anderson was quickly down to deny Blinco what looked like a certain goal. 

The visitors went close again through Adam Mitchell, the midfielder’s effort sailing just over Anderson’s crossbar. 

The deadlock was broken on 42 minutes by the home side. Greenwood picking up the ball inside the box, before coolly slotting past Guthrie to give Whickham a deserved lead.

The matches most controversial moment came only a minute later. Whickham striker Atkinson was shown a straight red card, after being judged to have put a hand in the face of a West Auckland player. A harsh decision by the referee, as the West Auckland player seemed to run into Atkinson before falling to the ground. 

The referee then proceeded to show Whickham midfielder Conor Newton a yellow card for dissent a minute before half-time. The experienced midfielder therefore having to endure ten minutes in the sin bin. 

The second half was underway and Whickham’s number one Anderson was alert to deny Blinco’s curling effort on 52 minutes. 

Newton returned to the action following his sin bin, and within minutes produced an inch perfect pass for Greenwood to latch onto. The striker was through on goal before being brought down in the box by a West Auckland defender. The referee immediately pointing to the spot and awarding Whickham a penalty. 

Greenwood made no mistake from 12 yards out – The striker dispatching his penalty hard and low into Guthrie’s right-hand corner on the hour mark. 

Whickham almost scored a third straight from kick-off, Greenwood again rounding Guthrie before going down in the box. The referee this time waving play on as Guthrie was judged to have won the ball.  

The away team continued to apply pressure as they looked to get back into the game. However, Whickham defended in numbers to see out the final few minutes. 

Whickham maintained their 100% home record under Tony Fawcett; and moved into eighth place following victory. West Auckland stay in second place, ten points behind top of the league Consett following their fourth defeat in a row. 

Conor Newton reflected on the win, adding: “It was tough being down to ten men after Zak was sent off. We had to sit and absorb a lot of pressure, but we caught them on the break and managed to nick a penalty. 

“I thought we managed well and held our shape well while dealing with a lot of pressure. I think we looked dangerous on the attack, even with ten men.’’ 

Newton completed his first 90 minutes since the start of September following injury. He said: “I thought I performed well. I felt ok, I’ve been keeping myself right. We were reduced to nine men because I was put on the naughty step which is never nice; and I need to learn from that. 

“I need to learn to keep my cool, as I’m one of the older heads on the team. I need to keep my composure. I thought when we had ten men on the pitch; we looked dangerous. We looked comfortable and the lads soaked up a lot of pressure for ten minutes while I was in the sin bin. I thought it was a very good performance, two nil against a good team.”

When asked about the sending off, Newton said: “I know Zak (Atkinson) had a coming together with one of their (West Auckland) players. Personally, I thought he went down very easily, probably a bit of experience on his behalf looking to get Zak sent off. We were upset with the decision; I think in hindsight if the shoe was on the other foot, we’d also be looking for Zak to be sent off. I don’t think it was a sending off, but again if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d want him sent off.” 

Whickham FC Team: Anderson, Bolton, Galbraith, Agnew, Priest, Burrell, Peareth ©, Newton, Greenwood, Scott Robson (Jasper 78’), Atkinson.

Subs not used: Jack Robson, Parrall, Bissett, Below.