Blues sunk by Darlington

Whitby Town old boy Jamie Clarke (centre) challenges Blues trialists Lewis Hardman (left) and Louis Horne during Darlington's 2-0 win at the Turnbull Ground on Saturday
Whitby Town old boy Jamie Clarke (centre) challenges Blues trialists Lewis Hardman (left) and Louis Horne during Darlington's 2-0 win at the Turnbull Ground on Saturday

WHITBY Town’s pre-season campaign got underway with 2-0 home defeat to Darlington 1883 on Saturday.

However, despite the loss, Blues manager Darren Williams felt that he learnt plenty from his side’s performance.

He told the Whitby Gazette: “It was the first game back for everybody and I thought we did well - we played some good stuff in parts.

“We started and finished the game with a mixed side. I could have started with my first 11 but you have got to be fair to the lads who have come in so we mixed it up an gave all the players an opportunity.

“I’m not bothered about results in pre-season, this game was a chance for us to have a look at players.

“I learnt quite a bit from the game. I realise that we do need to get fitter but that will come through playing the games and that is why we have organised so many friendlies.

“We also need to move the ball a bit quicker. At times we looked sluggish, but having said that, we did have some good opportunities which came from us keeping the ball.

“Steven Snaith looked good up front and Callum Wilson, who is normally a full-back, produced some good deliveries from the right side of midfield.

“I thought everyone did ok though, you can’t really judge anyone on 45 minutes.”

Darlington, who will ply their trade two levels below Whitby in the Northern League this season, started the stronger of the two sides and could have been ahead as early as the first minute.

An incisive move almost straight from kick-off saw David Dowson left with just Ben Escritt to beat from 10 yards out but the home keeper was down quickly to thwart Darlo’s number 10.

Dowson and former Blues striker Jamie Clarke continued to cause problems for the Whitby back four and it was no great surprise when the visitors took the lead in the seventeenth minute.

Chris Emms worked the ball back to Adam Clough whose low cross from the right flank was side-footed home at the near post by Dowson.

Darlo continued to play the better football in the opening quarter of the game with Whitby giving the ball away and struggling to build any real momentum as a result.

Just when the Blues looked like they had settled into the game around the half hour mark they conceded a second goal.

Emms cut inside Town skipper Mark Robinson before laying the ball infield to Dowson who powered a shot past Escritt and into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

It could have been even worse for Whitby when a slick move down the right ended up with Emms finding himself in behind the home defence.

The Darlo winger again picked out Dowson, however a point-blank block from Escritt denied the lively striker a first-half hat-trick.

Whitby made 11 changes at half time and a more even second half ensued.

Darlington still enjoyed the better chances after the interval although Town’s substitute goalkeeper Jeff Penfold was never really overly extended.

The closest Whitby came to a goal was in the 68th minute when Nathan Mulligan, who was probably the Blues’ most impressive performer on the day, cut in from the left and curled an exquisite effort onto the far post with Dale Hobson in the visitors’ goal rooted to the spot.

Mulligan’s performance was probably the highlight for the Blues while gloveman Escritt and forwards Graeme Armstrong and the busy Steven Snaith were the pick of the new faces.

Midfielder Jeff Smith and goalkeeper Nick Liversedge were both missing from the Town squad on Saturday.

Williams revealed: “Nick is down at Crawley at the moment, he is having a couple of games down there which is a great opportunity for him.

“Jeff Smith has been with Port Vale and they have got a game coming up in the next couple of days. I didn’t want to hinder his opportunity to play for them so he sat this one out.

“It’s not that they aren’t with us any more, they are just on trial elsewhere at the moment.”