Newcastle University played Whitley Bay reserves in the final of the Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl, showing their fighting spirit to win the tie 3-2 despite falling behind.
The early minutes of the game were very much even, with Newcastle University seeing an early effort fly over the bar and Whitley Bay having two efforts blocked by Uni defenders before being called offside. Leftiris Alambritis imposed himself on the game in these early stages for Newcastle University, being sandwiched between two Whitley Bay defenders as he was about to take a shot at goal, and then snatching the ball after a poor Whitley Bay backpass, forcing a smart save from Harley.
Konadu-Yiadom also highlighted himself as a threat, with his good hold up play allowing Walden to hit an effort from long range, then using his pace and strength to beat his man and cut into box, forcing a corner for Newcastle University.[pullquote]Despite the Uni side displaying their dominance, it was Whitley Bay who took the lead in the 24th minute[/pullquote]
Despite the Uni side displaying their dominance, it was Whitley Bay who took the lead in the 24th minute. A Whitley Bay corner evaded the Uni defence, falling to Connor Campbell who made no mistake with the finish to put the Bay in front. That goal was somewhat harsh given that the Uni team had been dominating up until this point, and they set about trying to restore parity immediately. Some good passing down the right wing set Redford free, but the final ball failed to meet any Uni players in the box before being cleared.
Whitley Bay almost extended their lead, with a deep cross finding Connor Campbell unmarked, but he could only head wide, spearing the Uni defences’ blushes. Newcastle University soon levelled the score, with Konadu-Yiadom heading the ball into a Whitley Bay defender. The resulting melee for the ball saw a foul committed against Uni, but the ball fell to Olly Walden, who worked himself into space before rifling the ball into the top corner.
The Uni team had the ball in the net just before half time courtesy of a Hamblin header, but the referee ruled the goal out having decided that there was a foul in the build up to the goal. There was some remonstration from the Uni bench, but the rest of the crowd didn’t seem shocked by the decision, and half time soon arrived.
After the break the Uni fans congregated behind the goal, and their support seemed to invigorate the team. Uni went ahead in the 51st minute, with some good passing down the right-hand side setting Zylko free, who rifled past Harley in the Whitley Bay goal to send the Uni fans into delirium.
Alambritis continued to pose a threat, heading over from two consecutive corners as Whitley Bay seemed to succumb under the pressure from the Uni side. Newcastle University took control for much of the second half, fashioning several chances before a speculative ball from Whitley Bay caught the Uni defence off guard, bobbling through to Cam Cunningham who finished low and hard to level the scores at 2-2.[pullquote]The ball bounced, catching the Bay keeper unaware and trickling into the net to restore the lead for Newcastle University[/pullquote]
Horn almost levelled for Uni, who decided not to pass to his teammates in the box to his right, seeing his curling effort tipped off of the far post by Harley. Uni continued to apply pressure to Whitley Bay, and Walden managed to head the ball towards goal from a Uni corner. The ball bounced, catching the Bay keeper unaware and trickling into the net to restore the lead for Newcastle University.
Walden nearly scored again soon after, hitting a free kick from 30 yards that almost shattered the crossbar, and the Uni had another goal ruled out, with Atkin’s header being disallowed for another foul committed within the box.
Whitley Bay had a free kick saved by Curran in the 90th minute but were unable to fashion an equaliser, with Newcastle University effectively running down the clock to seal the Benevolent Bowl and sprinting over to the Uni fans to celebrate their end of season triumph.