SENIORITY, shared. Not even two hours of football could separate Blyth and Whitley Bay, and without recourse to penalties the pair will, FA Vase notwithstanding, replay next Tuesday.
It seemed ever thus.
Though there were chances, as evenly-matched a contest as one is likely to witness – and 621, Croft Park’s seasonal best, were there to – saw the Spartans and Seahorses cancel each other out.
On seven minutes, Paul Chow’s angled effort had its sting sedated by Joe Kendrick, before Conor Grant gathered, and later, Chris Fawcett scuffed a shot of his own at the Blyth goalkeeper.
By then, Lee Mason’s strike from 18 yards had been palmed away by Kyle Hayes at the opposite end, then Robbie Dale drove at the Bay goalkeeper and Phil Airey headed over after Tom Berj’s 20-yard drive crashed off the bar, down onto the goalline and back into play.
Not to be outdone, Chow did precisely the same at the other end, before nudging a further effort at Grant.
And after Kendrick, Damon Mullen and Mason each went close for Blyth, Bay captain Lee Kerr’s curling free-kick was pushed clear just before half-time.
Straight after it, Dale headed onto the roof of the net, then twice blazed well off target, but thereafter, the second half cooled where the first had simmered.
It certainly never threatened to boil over, that is for sure. But Whitley did at least attempt to turn up the heat.
James Novak’s cross-shot was blocked by Darryl Donnelly, Lee Paul Scroggins fired over then headed wide and Ashley Davis shot into Grant’s chest.
On 73 minutes Chris Reid’s overhead kick bounced behind, five minutes later Fawcett dragged a shot into a wall of Blyth defenders and in the 87th minute James Fairley stabbed at Grant.
How typically football then, that it was Blyth who could and should have won it at the (normal time) death.
With seconds remaining, Shaun Vipond tricked his way through on goal, only to be denied, brilliantly, by Hayes.
Thus, extra-time ensued. For Blyth, Vipond blasted wide, Chow almost headed into his own net, Neal Hooks’ shot was blocked and Airey drove wide.
For Whitley, Fairley was blocked by Kendrick, Reid headed over and Kerr teased a free-kick wide. Michael McMullen fired wide, Vipond at Hayes and at the very, very death Craig Farrell curled inches off target.
And that was that. The final apart, there are no shoot-outs in the Senior Cup. So let’s do it all over again.