Back in bottom four

WHITBY Town dropped back into the Evo-Stik Premier Division relegation zone on Saturday after their heaviest defeat since Tommy Cassidy took over as manager.

Cassidy was unhappy what he described as “a poor performance”.

“I was disappointed with the passing and the decision making was poor. I told the players afterwards, it wasn’t good enough,” he said.

“Andy Campbell hit the bar and that could have changed the game, but there’s no pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”

The Blues were unchanged after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels, but found it hard to create chances on Bury’s Gigg Lane surface that required a morning pitch inspection, following regular rain throughout the week.

It took an exceptional effort from distance to break the deadlock on 16 minutes, albeit at the wrong end for Whitby. The ball broke to James Holden on the edge of the box from a corner and the defender volleyed an unstoppable shot off post and bar, past a helpless Dave Campbell.

The lively Jerome Wright came close and Holden almost repeated the dose but drilled narrowly wide from 20 yards.

For the Blues, lone striker Andy Campbell glanced a close range header into the gloves of keeper Sam Ashton around the half hour mark and Kev Burgess, up for a corner won by Chris Batchelor’s trickery, nodded hard but wide when well-placed.

Cassidy wanted an extra forward and introduced Ash Davis for winger Dave McTiernan on 38 minutes and within three minutes had to make another change as skipper Tony Hackworth was stretchered from the field.

Hackworth fell badly after a foul on the halfway line and was taken straight to hospital. X-rays later showed the ex-Leeds man has lateral ligament damage in his ankle, rather than a break as first feared.

Vice captain Jimmy Beadle, back after missing the midweek victory with flu, took his armband and midfield role, in a straight swap.

Town could have levelled matters two minutes before the break as a pinpoint cross from the left was nodded against the crossbar by Campbell, at the far post.

So often in football, there are turning points and that proved the case as United doubled their lead moments later. Matt Wolfenden was on the spot from point blank range after a quick break saw Wright beat Ashley Lyth down the left and deliver the perfect driven cross for the ex-Oldham striker to slide home.

That gave Cassidy and assistant Tony Elliott an even harder job to pick up their troops and so it proved as the result was put beyond doubt, just 11 minutes into the second half.

Mike Norton, the scorer of a disputed injury time winner at Rochdale in the FA Cup earlier this season, was fortunate once again.

The United skipper looked offside as he collected a defence-splitting through ball, but the flag stayed down as Whitby stepped up and Norton slotted past Campbell from close range.

Annoyingly for the 40-plus supporters who travelled from North Yorkshire, Town saved their best football for the final 10 minutes.

Dave Southern, on for the quiet Batchelor, worked hard down the left with Davis also coming close, but the final ball was always missing.

Late on, Andy Campbell was taken out by two United players in the box but didn’t have control of the ball, so referee Mr Chapman played on.

This encounter never seemed far from boiling over and FC duo Holden and Jake Cottrell joined Town’s Andy Leeson in the book following a shoving match just inside the United half.

Ibby Hassan had already picked up a yellow card early on for scything down Norton, after two better-timed slide challenges seconds before.

The final six minutes then saw Lyth carded for a rash lunge and Burgess joined him a minute from the end.

The afternoon was finally summed up for the Seasiders two minutes into injury time. Keeper Campbell parried Dave Chadwick’s header, but Wolfenden was able to ping the ball back across goal and while Norton’s effort may have been going wide, Lyth deflected it in as he tried to clear.

The Blues are now fourth from bottom in a congested lower half of the table. Four points seperate five teams above them, with one of those being Town’s next opponents – Mickleover Sports on Saturday.

Whitby Town: D Campbell, Lyth, Scott, Hassan, Burgess, McReady, McTiernan (Davis 38), Hackworth (Beadle 41), A Campbell, Leeson, Batchelor (Southern 72). Subs not used: Craddock, Liversedge. Attendance: 1,662

FC United of Manchester 4 Whitby Town 0