Blues held by Rams

Ramsbottom keeper Grant Shenton challenges Whitby's Matty Waters during Wednesday's 1-1 draw. Pictures: Brian Murfield
Ramsbottom keeper Grant Shenton challenges Whitby's Matty Waters during Wednesday's 1-1 draw. Pictures: Brian Murfield

Whitby Town bounced back from successive defeats to claim a point from Wednesday night’s clash with Ramsbottom United.

A strong second-half showing against the Evo-Stik Premier Division’s bottom side could well have yielded a win, but despite working numerous openings, the Blues just couldn’t quite force home a decisive second goal.

Whitby goalkeeper Shane Bland punches the ball to safety as Ramsbottom press forward

Whitby goalkeeper Shane Bland punches the ball to safety as Ramsbottom press forward

There were two changes from the defeat at Matlock, with Liam Shepherd and Lee Bullock replacing Ibby Hassan and Richard Pell in the Town defence, and, after a fairly pedestrian opening quarter of an hour, the first clear chance of the evening fell to Rammy’s Luke Heron.

The ball was slid through to him on the left-hand side of the penalty area, but his low strike from close to the penalty spot was kept out of the net by the legs of Shane Bland.

Ten minutes later, Whitby fashioned their first effort of any real note when Mikey Roberts curled a 20-yard free-kick just over the visitors’ bar.

The next chance of the game fell to Matty Waters eight yards out but the ball bounced up awkwardly and the Blues’ number 10 could only drag his shot across the face of goal.

Shane Bland limps from the field after injuring a hamstring in Wednesday's draw with Ramsbottom

Shane Bland limps from the field after injuring a hamstring in Wednesday's draw with Ramsbottom

A flowing move out from the back saw Roberts win a corner down the right and the resulting set-piece eventually broke to Waters, but his stinging drive was brilliantly clawed away by Ramsbottom’s keeper Grant Shenton.

Whitby continued to press as half-time approached and there was an element of menace about some of the Rams’ own attacking play, but nevertheless the interval arrived with the game still goalless.

The second period was however less than 60 seconds old when the deadlock was broken.

With the Blues seemingly still in the dressing room, Ramsbottom got in behind and although the initial danger seemed to have been halted, the ball was cut back from the left for Max Harrop to fire first time past Bland and into the top corner.

Whitby responsed immediately and Waters should have levelled things up just moments later, but he planted a close-range effort wide of the far post after being freed up on the left.

The Seasiders had the Rams camped in their own half in no time at all but the home side’s momentum was disrupted by Shane Bland pulling a hamstring and going down in a heap before eventually being replaced by Jason Blackburn, who usually operates as a forward.

Undeterred, Town continued to press and were level in the 59th-minute when skipper Mark Robinson seized on a loose pass across the visitors’ back four and broke clear down the left.

Roberts made an intelligent run towards the penalty spot and was picked out by his captain’s inch-perfect low cross, dispatching the ball confidently past Shenton with one touch.

The Blues cranked up the pressure as the game entered its final third, James Brown and Scott McCarthy arriving from the bench to add fresh impetus in the final third.

Brown whipped a 25-yard effort just wide then almost got on the end of a Liam Shepherd cornerbefore Roberts scuffed a strike wide and Adam Gell shot straight at Shenton on the turn.

On no less than three separate occasions Whitby got in behind the Rams’ back four and delivered into dangerous areas, but the ball just wouldn’t break for a man in a blue shirt to apply a finishing touch.

This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a threat at the other end, with substitute Dominic McHale looking a menace and Lee Gaskell and Alex Meaney both striking efforts just off target, while stand-in stopper Blackburn made a couple of unorthodox saves with his feet.

That said, the Blues should have won it in added time when some fine approach play down the left saw the ball teed up for Roberts 10 yards out.

Town’s top-scorer looked a certainty to grab his second of the night, but Shenton was off his line quickly to block his low effort and Whitby’s chance of three points had gone.

Whitby Town: Bland (Blackburn 55), Shepherd, Robinson (c), Pell, Weledji, McTiernan, R Gardner (Brown 57), Gell, Roberts, Waters (McCarthy 69), Martin.