Whitley Bay FC Barca...3
A LAST-GASP Whitley Bay equaliser cruelly denied Longhoughton Rangers victory against the Tyneside table-toppers in this topsy-turvy six-goal thriller.
Despite the agony of conceding late on, Rangers can take great heart from this performance, which saw Lewis Fairbairn net two and Zac Stephenson score the other.
Rangers got off to the best possible start when they went ahead, thanks to a Fairbairn strike.
Whitley Bay pushed for a leveller and put Rangers under heavy pressure.
But a mixture of good Rangers defending, wayward Whitley finishing and even the woodwork prevented Barca from getting back into the contest.
The homeside’s pressure did eventually tell when they levelled in the third quarter.
Rangers’ heads did not go down though and they carved out a number of chances to regain the lead, with Fairbairn a real threat to the Barca defence.
But they were unable to convert the opportunities and it wasn’t long before Rangers were left to rue this, when Whitley scored from a corner to take the lead.
Down in a game where they had chances to take the lead, Longhoughton were not discouraged.
The ever-dangerous Fairbairn drew an excellent save from the Whitley Bay keeper and, after a dinking run on the left by Roan Brayson, Joseph Cormack crashed an angled shot against the Whitley Bay crossbar.
However, the real drama came in the contest’s final quarter.
Rangers grabbed an equaliser thanks to a smart finish from Stephenson.
And things got even better when Longhoughton took the lead.
Stephenson embarked on a powerful run before sublimely passing to Fairbairn, who capped a wonderfully-crafted move with a cool and composed finish.
With their noses in front, Rangers endured a nail-biting end to the game.
The longed-for final whistle just did not come and time seemed to stand still as Barca pushed further forward.
And despite heroic Rangers defending, they were unable to stop Barca from grabbing a share of the spoils.
Rangers keeper Niall Murtagh made a great save but the ball deflected across the Longhoughton goal.
Two Whitley Bay attackers reached the ball before the Longhoughton defence and the chance to equalise was gratefully taken.
A Longhoughton win had been snatched away at the last but no one could deny the spirit of their performance.
It was an excellent and encouraging display.