WHITBY Town battle Notts side Eastwood, who narrowly missed out on a place in non-league’s top flight, in their final warm-up game this Saturday (6 Aug), with manager Tommy Cassidy calling it a “real challenge”, writes Andrew Snaith.
The Badgers were promoted from the Northern Premier in 2009 and almost went up from the Conference North last season after a record-breaking 19-game unbeaten run.
However, despite finishing fourth, their Coronation Park home was deemed not to reach Conference Premier standard and they were denied a place in the end of season play-offs.
Blues boss Cassidy is hoping goalkeeper Tom Courtney can shake off a groin strain, or face the prospect of just one fit gloveman, with former Morecambe stopper Matt Calvert continuing to deputise.
It’s been a mixed group of friendlies for Town with three wins and three defeats during what Cassidy described as: “a decent pre-season”.
The former Northern Ireland international revealed that Courtney and Calvert were still competing to take the number one jersey for the Blues’ first league game, at Chasetown on Saturday week.
Forty-year-old regular keeper Dave Campbell, Town’s second-leading appearance maker of all time, twisted his ankle badly before the opening friendly with Fishburn Park and is missing for at least another fortnight.
Cassidy is still chasing a striker and may be trying to secure a loan move, though refused to comment until any deal is done.
He did reveal that midfielder Darren Williams will be given a chance to prove his fitness ahead of any deal.
The 34-year-old, who made 200 appearances for Sunderland, made his debut at Bridlington Town on Tuesday night.
Cassidy revealed: “He admitted himself he isn’t fit yet but a few different clubs are interested.”
The Blues boss has made no secret of his attempts to secure more strike options and a need for experience in midfield after losing skipper Tony Hackworth to Scarborough Athletic and top scorer Jimmy Beadle to Swedish football, in the summer.
Cassidy added: “We are a young side this season, but, when they do click, they don’t look a bad team.”
The ex-Newcastle United and Burnley star admitted he hasn’t decided on Hackworth’s replacement as captain - left-sided former Hartlepool United midfielder Mark Robinson has worn the armband most often, though Kev Burgess will be among others considered for the role.
Kick-off at the Turnbull Ground on Saturday is 3pm with admission just £5 for adults, £3 OAPs and £1 under 18s.
The Blues’ first home league game is a week on Wednesday (17 Aug) when Bradford Park Avenue visit.