Rampant Rovers hit Whitley Bay for six in Minor Cup victory
Spittal Rovers 6-3 Whitley Bay SC
League leaders Whitley Bay SC were left shellshocked early on in this Minor Cup first round tie – a tidal wave of pressure from the Seasiders sending the hosts three goals to the good in a whirlwind opening 20 minutes.
New boys Rhys Bloomfield and Richard Davison were welcomed into the Rovers squad, with Scott Mitchell opting for the same starting 11 that won seven days previous at Wideopen & District.
A driven cross from fullback Leigh Walker was nodded just wide by skipper Paul Wood little more than a minute in, but the warning signs were there for the visitors and moments later Spittal were in front – Craig Bell’s delicate flick-on finding Kyle Jeffrey at the far post, his gamble paying off as he fired home the opener.
Latvian Dmitrijs Paplavskis then beat Bay keeper Tom Bodley to a through ball to exquisitely lift the ball over him and in.
The devastating Niall Jones then weighed in with a third, collecting Marco Lambert’s pass before jinking his way past Phil Cross with some mesmerizingly quick feet to blast through the legs of Bodley, sending the black & whites into dreamland.
After eventually gathering themselves together, Bay began to press upfield themselves and were close to pulling one back when Spittal defender Ewan Sherry headed George Pickford’s dangerous set piece to safety.
Lambert then showed his defensive side with a last-ditch challenge to deny Adam Whitehead. They did net towards the end of the half when David Adams took full advantage of some indecisiveness in the Rovers defence to turn the ball home, but this had followed Jones’ emphatic volley which had put his side even further ahead just moments earlier – Walker finding him with an accurate, crisply-hit centre which the little winger viciously volleyed back across goal and out of the reach of Bodley his ninth goal of the campaign.
Just before the interval both Wood and Sherry both headed just wide and Whitehead was unlucky not to get a second goal for his side at the other end, spinning Sherry to shoot just wide of Ashley Pendrich’s post.
Immediately after the restart, Bodley turned Ben Fairbairn’s grasscutter of a free kick around his upright before Whitley Bay propelled themselves back into the game via the penalty spot, sub Dan McDonald finding the corner with a well-placed shot.
This gave the team from North Tyneside fresh hope and, as the half developed, more and more men were being sent forward in search of more.
They rode their luck when Jeffrey squandered a chance to put the game to bed for Spittal before another spot kick from McDonald put Bay within just one goal of an equaliser.
The hope generated from the penalty was short-lived however, Jeffrey’s swirling corner headed home forcefully by Paplavskis for his second. Further chances arrived for Rovers towards the end, but it was Jeffrey who made it 16 goals in three games for Rovers, drifting in at the far post to convert Jones’ unselfish cross with Bloomfield having swung at it on its way through.
The Berwick side now get back to league duty next Saturday, when Seghill visit Newfields before they test themselves at Division 1 outfit Wallsend Community in the cup the following week.