Blues boss: ‘We want to be up there with best’

Whitby Town's Graeme Armstrong - pictured here in action against Frickley - scored twice in the 5-2 demolition of Marine'picture: Brian Murfield
Whitby Town's Graeme Armstrong - pictured here in action against Frickley - scored twice in the 5-2 demolition of Marine'picture: Brian Murfield

WHITBY Town player-manager Darren Williams feels his side should be pushing the Northern Premier League’s very best - including Saturday’s visitors to the Turnbull Ground, fifth-placed Worksop.

Eleven points separate the two clubs, with Williams targeting the Tigers’ play-off spot, after his team’s six-game unbeaten run in the EvoStik Premier.

The former Sunderland star told the Whitby Gazette: “We don’t have the backing Worksop have, from a financial point of view, but we’ve got some very good players and we’re building a good squad.

“Realistically, we’ve got to be putting ourselves up with the likes of Worksop and [leaders North] Ferriby, because we are good enough to be there.

“It’ll be a tough game.

“Worksop always have a good side - they’ve got a very big squad and some good players in it.”

The Seasiders are chasing their first double of the season, after defeating the Nottinghamshire outfit 1-0 in October, thanks to Nathan Mulligan’s goal. Not that Williams thinks it’ll make any difference this weekend.

“I don’t think it plays a part, to be honest”, he claims.

“Yeah it was great going down there to get a victory, we played extremely well and we dominated the game, However, I don’t think it has a bearing.

“It’s a new game, it’s a fresh start and we’re going to look to move on from there.”

Williams and his charges have been left frustrated with four weeks of postponements, since their last league outing - a shock 5-2 victory at Marine, who remain third.

The 35-year-old, who made 108 FA Premier League appearances, is desperate to get back playing and believes the pitch should be fine for the weekend battle.

“I would like to think so”, he said.

“The weather hasn’t been too bad, it just depends on how much water the pitch has taken, with the melting of the snow.

“I’m assuming it is very likely that we will be playing - it has been really windy, the last couple of days, which has hopefully helped the pitch to dry out a little bit.”

Like Town, the division’s top scorers lost out at Farsley in the Doodson Sport League Cup, this past Tuesday.

They’ve secured just one win from their last five matches, also matching the Blues in beating Frickley Athletic 4-1, albeit in the same competition they tumbled out of in midweek.

This after a formidable Evo-Stik league run, following their defeat to Williams men, which saw Worksop unbeaten in eight - winning six and scoring 33 goals in that time - including the 8-1 thrashing of Blyth Spartans.

Meanwhile Whitby and their coach are keen to hit the ground running on Saturday- they trained twice this week, though Williams admits the wintry conditions have taken their toll.

“It’s been very difficult”, he conceded. “A lot of our sessions have been indoor - which is not great - ideally we’d like to get outside.

“We had a good couple of hours putting the lads through their paces on Tuesday - yes there was a little bit of rustiness - but we’re hoping to get that out by the weekend.”

The Blues should have a fully-fit and available squad, with leading-marksman Mulligan, who has 13 league goals, likely to shrug off a nagging knee injury. Ex-Blyth team-mates Craig Farrell (eight goals in six games) and Graeme Armstrong (five strikes in four matches) are looking to continue their fine forward form, while at the other end, Tom Denton (14) and Leon Mettam (12) have 26 goals between them, all from open play.

Whitby have a poor overall record against the East Midlands club, with five wins from 24 meetings and just two victories in 12, coming at home.

Their last success in North Yorkshire was on 29 March 2008, when Danny Brunskill (2), Karl Charlton and Andy Burton notched in a 4-1 thumping.

Kick-off at the Turnbull Ground, on Saturday, is 3pm, with admission set at: £9 adults, £5 concessions and £2 under 18s, with under 16s admitted free, when accompanied by a paying adult.

Supporters are reminded the club shop will be open as usual, with the February issue of the Blue Army Fanzine ready to buy, for just £2.50.

* There is a dominoes drive in the Whitby Town club house on Friday night (1 Feb) at 8pm.