WHITBY Town player-manager Darren Williams said his side suffered in “a performance of two halves” as second-placed Hednesford ended the Seasiders’ three-game winning run, on Saturday.
Williams told the Whitby Gazette: “I think we’ve done well in the first half, we then went out and let ourselves down a little bit.
“The stuff we did in the first half, we didn’t continue it in the second.”
Whitby were forced into three changes, with the Evo-Stik NPL Premier’s top-scorer Nathan Mulligan suspended, strike-partner Graeme Armstrong suffering from a sickness bug and Kev Burgess unable to shake off a foot injury.
Fellow centre-half Alex White, described as only “75% fit” by physio Kenny Bolton in midweek, did return, with Ashley Corker also back in the starting line-up and 20-year-old forward Jordan Hugill making a first start in 11 months.
The visitors threatened first with ex-Marine and Retford striker Neil Harvey powering his way through but lashing wide inside nine minutes.
However, the Pitmen led moments later when John Disney landed a neat right-wing cross over Nick Liversedge, for Nathan Wolfe to sidefoot home at the far post, despite a belated clearance from behind the goal-line.
However, as play continued, Hednesford followers, stood just yards away, raged and Whitby fans in the far enclosure cheered, before Mr Dicicco finally signalled the goal, several seconds later.
It was later revealed that the nearby assistant had triggered an electrical device, normally used in professional games, that sends ‘an alert’ from the linesman’s flag to the referee’s arm, designed to grab his attention.
But it wasn’t just both sets of supporters that were bemused by the officials’ actions or lack of them.
Williams admitted: “I was thinking to myself, we don’t actually have that system in our division, I don’t understand why you’re pointing to your arm.
“The linesman wasn’t flagging to say that it had crossed the line or anything, the referee turned and looked, then play has gone on a little bit.
“I wasn’t sure it had crossed the line myself, but it was a difficult one to see from where I am.”
Harvey then fired straight at Liversedge from 20 yards, before Whitby showed for the first time on 25 minutes, but Steven Snaith’s close-range bicycle kick flew past Dan Crane’s left-hand post.
The imposing Harvey almost turned provider after the half hour, as he left the sliding Craig James for dead down the left flank, before squaring to Elliott Durrell, who forced Liversedge to tip a low drive around his right-hand post. Aaron Rey, a raw forward talent, then tried to get in on the act, but his drilled turn and shot was comfortably gathered by a watchful Liversedge.
The Blues’ best chance promptly arrived, after their brightest spell, three minutes before the interval. Dave McTiernan’s left-wing corner was headed towards the roof of the net by Shane Henry, only for visiting skipper Darren Campion to perform a textbook goal-line clearance and deflect the ball wide.
Armstrong was introduced around the hour, in place of the quiet Hugill, but within four minutes, the away side had a second goal. A speedy break from a Blues’ corner saw Wolfe fly down the left and cut inside, for Jamey Osborne to fire an angled 18-yard drive across Liversedge and inside the far post.
The hosts had one last decent opportunity to get the crowd on its feet, 15 minutes from time. The impressive Henry got the ball down and ran at a back-tracking defence, only to fire off target, from the edge of the penalty area.
Williams thought his charges worked hard, but lamented the two goals they conceded, particularly the first.
“I think we could’ve dealt with the situation a lot better, from start to finish and I was disappointed with the second really, as well,” he added.
“We did have three of the starting eleven out and one option from the bench not available, but the lads I put out are good players and I thought that, under the circumstances, we gave Hednesford a bit of a run for their money.
“I have a feeling that, on another day for us, had we got one before half-time, we could’ve gone on to get something out of the game.”
Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson, White (Tait 73), James, McTiernan, Portas, Henry, Snaith, Hugill (Armstrong 59), Corker. Subs not used: Williams, Burgess, Campbell. Attendance: 292
The Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Ibrahim Hassan
Whitby Town 0 Hednesford Town 2