Blues put Gladiators to the sword

Mikey Roberts and Mark Robinson celebrate the former's goal in Whitby Town's crucial win over Matlock. Pictures: Brian Murfield
Mikey Roberts and Mark Robinson celebrate the former's goal in Whitby Town's crucial win over Matlock. Pictures: Brian Murfield
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Whitby Town claimed a much-needed victory over Matlock on Saturday.

The 2-1 success at the Turnbull Ground arrested a three-match losing sequence and moved the Blues up two places to 21st in the Evo-Stik Premier Division standings, just two points shy of safety.

Matty Waters fires in the Blues' first goal against Matlock

Matty Waters fires in the Blues' first goal against Matlock

Beating the Gladiators not only saw Town claim a crucial three points, but it should also relieve the pressure on the club’s players and their manager Darren Williams.

In Saturday’s programme notes, Seasiders chairman Graham Manser apologised to the fans for the team’s performance in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at bottom side Ramsbottom United.

He went on to state: ‘Whitby Town is a proud club, especially as we have never been relegated in our history.

‘Darren is aware of the situation and results will have to improve quickly.’

Matlock defender Harry Coates is shown a red card for a professional foul

Matlock defender Harry Coates is shown a red card for a professional foul

Whitby began the Matlock game like a side who knew that they needed a win, and they could have been 2-0 up inside 10 minutes but Ryan Brobbel and then Matty Waters spurned glorious opportunities.

After the Blues’ fast start, the visitors slowly began to play their way into the game and missed a couple of chances of their own to take the lead.

Niall McMannus ran in behind and lobbed Bland but the ball dropped wide of the target,and Sam Smith then saw a strike deflected over.

With the game very much in the balance, the all-important first goal arrived after 34 minutes and it went the way of Whitby.

Whitby keeper Shane Bland made a number of important saves to help his side to three points

Whitby keeper Shane Bland made a number of important saves to help his side to three points

The Blues took a short corner on the left and after Matlock failed to clear, the ball eventually broke for Waters who fired home off the inside of the post, despite Lewis King getting a hand to the strike.

A combination of Shane Bland and Richard Pell denied Ted Cribley a close-range equaliser following a corner at the other end, before Town went 2-0 up in controversial circumstances.

Mikey Roberts was tugged back by Matlock’s last man, Harry Coates, when through on goal, and although the defender was rightly red-carded by referee Matt McGrath for a professional foul, a penalty was also awarded despite the incident looking to have taken place well outside the area.

Roberts calmly sent King the wrong way from the spot and, with 40 minutes played, the Blues looked in full control.

Matlock boss Mark Hume confronted the match officials at half-time and on the final whistle after his side slumped to defeat at the Turnbull Ground

Matlock boss Mark Hume confronted the match officials at half-time and on the final whistle after his side slumped to defeat at the Turnbull Ground

The intensity of the first-half showing was missing after the interval and despite having a man less, it was the visitors that made most of the running.

Bland did well to tip Danny Hollands’ header over the bar before Kieran Weledji headed off his own line and Town’s keeper then produced an incredible reflex save to deny Hollands, on the volley, from point-blank range.

Repeatedly slicing clearances up in the air and surrendering possession cheaply did little to aid Whitby’s cause, although they did nearly add a third goal when Lee Mason charged down goalkeeper King’s clearance.

With 18 minutes to go, Matlock set up a nervy finale when a route one ball out of defence carved the Blues open down the middle and substitute Joel Purkiss nipped in to finish first time past Bland.

As the Gladiators poured forward in search of an equaliser, gaps began to appear at the back, but a number of promising openings were butchered by the home side who chose the wrong options in the final third.

Matlock failed to carve out anything really clear cut in the closing stages, although they had a huge shout for a penalty waved away in the last minute of added time when Pell tangled with goalscorer Purkiss.

The Blues did however hold on for a crucial win, and another on Wednesday, when north east rivals Blyth Spartans are the visitors, could see Williams’ men move out of the relegation places.