MATCH PREVIEW: Whitley Bay Sporting Club v Rothbury
Rothbury player boss Tom Macpherson was left gutted by the early exit as the Reds crashed out of the NFA Minor Cup at the first hurdle.
The Hillmen quickly found themselves 2-0 down, for the second week running, before battling back with two late goals to take the result to 3-3 and a penalty shoot-out down the Coquet at newly-formed Amble FC.
“Ultimately a poor first half performance cost us dearly,” said Tom.
“To be fair to Amble, they came out fast and didn’t give us a second on the ball and we didn’t cope with that intensity at all. Myself and James also have take a degree of blame in the fact we changed formation for this game and it did not work at all, managerial naivety maybe,” admitted the big defender.
“Once 2-0 down, we reverted to our usual system and started to get a foothold back in the game. The lads got a dressing down at half time and I couldn’t ask for much more from the second half, the lads showed grit and determination to fight back into the game.”
Josh Blakey netted in the 65th minute to get Rothbury back in it and although Stroughton added his second to make it 3-1 to Amble in the 81st minute, a late own goal from Davison and a Tony Brown strike took the game to the shoot-out.
“Credit to Amble, they defended resolutely throughout and always looked a threat on the counter attack. The game finished 3-3 and it’s a lottery after that. Their keeper pulled off some amazing saves throughout the 90 minutes and continued that in the penalty shootout. Overall on the balance of play a draw was a fair result and they have won the penalty shootout, again rewards for their first half performance and general effort levels throughout. We wish them well in future rounds.”
Macpherson says that with the main Cup target now gone the club will turn their attention back to the League where they travel down to Whitley Bay Sporting Club (kick-off 2.30pm) this Saturday.
“We always seem to have entertaining battles with our old rivals. These are a much better side than their league position suggests so we will need to be aware of this,” he said, as Rothbury dropped into fifth position behind West Moor & Jesmond in the table.
“I want us to fly out of the blocks instead of us having to react again. We take a strong squad down to Whitley, looking to continue our good league form and hopefully add a little pressure on the teams above us. We hope to see another strong travelling contingent again, it really helps the lads and it is great seeing the community behind the team.”
The draw for the Third Round of the Minor Cup has not yet been made, so Macpherson can’t worry about what might have been as the Reds have been keen to better the quarter-final appearances that have been furthest that the club has gone previously.
So it’s somewhat disappointing that the Northumberland FA hosted a Football Expo in Newcastle last Saturday which was all over their social media. Never mind that the Second Round of the Minor Cup was also taking place and some of the games apparently struggled to get officials appointed to them. But, hey, it’s only the Minor Cup, right? Because when clubs aren’t even getting the details of ties sent out to them it’s seriously time to reassess the priorities of one the Association’s largest (in terms of number of teams competing) competitions.
While the players and the clubs still find it a prestigious competition that we really want to do well in, it’s maybe time for the NFA to start looking at ideas for elevating the status of the Minor Cup. Getting the Final on at St. James’s a few seasons ago was a massive coup and a fantastic step at addressing the low profile – even playing it at somewhere like Croft Park, as in the past, would be more exciting. Getting previews, reports and pictures up on the website would also be a huge help. They’re not massive issues when you start to think about what could be done, as for us that don’t play in the likes of the FA Cup, the Trophy or the Vase, the Minor Cup is our biggest competition. It deserves to be treated with that respect by us all.
Words: Jon Tait