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Preparations made for Bay's Bigg day! FA CARLSBERG VASE.


WHITLEY Bay boss Ian Chandler has revealed the coast club's professional preparations ahead of tomorrow's big FA Vase clash with Biggleswade Town.

The Seahorses are expecting a four-figure gate against the Bedfordshire outfit as they look to stay on the road to Wembley.

Bay beat Stratford 2-0 last weekend at Hillheads as the Waders waited patiently to see who their opponents would be in the next round.

Rather than take a chance, Chandler deployed a scout to check out the South Midlands Premier Division outfit - even though Bay had to negotiate their way past a tricky Stratford side which included former Jamaican World Cup and Portsmouth star Paul Hall.

Chandler told the Chronicle: "One of the team, Darren Timmons, was working down near London way last week.

"He suggested without tempting fate he could go and watch Biggleswade just on the off chance we beat Stratford.

"Darren has reported back and gave me very valuable information.

"We also spoke to Stratford's manager, who also gave us a good report.

"I think he was a little bit more proactive than myself and had them watched two or three times.

"Hopefully if we play to our own strengths again, we can go through."

Bay fans partied at Hillheads as they made the last eight for the second season in a row.

However, despite a solid 2-0 win and a clean sheet to keep up the Vase run for Chandler's Northern League battlers, the manager of the blue and whites says he was not in the party mood.

He added: "Immediately after the game I was strangely enough disappointed.

"Even though we won and are now in the quarter-finals, I was initially frustrated at our performance.

However, on reflection I am now very pleased.

"Usually our attacking play takes all the plaudits and our defence goes a little unnoticed.

"Saturday, though, showed the strength and character in our team.

"Defensively we were excellent, and in the second half Stratford played very well - pushing us back time and time again. We held firm and restricted them to long-range shots.

"They did not get behind us or really trouble us, so all in all on reflection we played quite well."

Chandler is confident his back four will nullify Biggleswade's aerial power.

He said: "Apparently, they are a big side, but we have three six foot-plus players in our back four and I reckon we should be able to cope.

"Lee Picton, Leon Ryan and David Coulson are all big lads.

"We stifled Stratford Town in the second half of last week's fifth round tie when they threw everything at us and, if we repeat that defensive performance we should be OK."

Chandler, is, of course, no stranger to the competition.

He scored the only goal when Whitley Bay defeated Tiptree United on a wonderful day at Birmingham's Villa Park seven years ago.

He said: "That was a great experience and I want to take the club all the way this time.

"We will never have a better chance of reaching the semi-finals, and let us hope we are celebrating tomorrow night."

Secretary Derek Breakwell, who has been busy making the administrative arrangements, is hoping for a four-figure crowd.

He said: "We had nearly 800 in last week and there is no doubt if supporters get behind the team it can make a big difference.

"Biggleswade must be a decent side - mugs do not get into the last eight - but wee have been on a good run and hopefully we can give our fans something to cheer."


MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS: Whitley Bay's squad celebrate after winning the FA Vase us 2002 - Ian Chandler played that day and hopes for more Vase glory for Bay this season; HOPES: Ian Chandler
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2009
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