Boss ‘buzzing’ as Blues break duck

High fives for scorer of Whitby's second goal, Andy Appleby'picture: Brian Murfield
High fives for scorer of Whitby's second goal, Andy Appleby'picture: Brian Murfield
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PLAYER-manager Darren Williams said he was “buzzing for the lads and the club” after Whitby Town finally broke their home league duck at the 13th attempt, on Saturday, writes Andrew Snaith.

The 34-year-old, who again took to the field himself, was delighted with what he called “a great performance” that takes second-bottom Town within seven points of Evo-Stik Premier safety.

He told the Whitby Gazette: “I think we overshadowed the first half.

“We always knew it wasn’t going to be the prettiest game, but we stuck at our task.

“At times, we played some good stuff, but I think our decision-making was spot on.”

Despite a below-average gate, Williams paid tribute to those who did turn up - particularly some of the noisier supporters - and asked for more support ahead of this weekend’s visit from Kendal Town:

“You could hear them from the pitch - that was great for us to have people willing us on, wanting us to do well.

“Hopefully, the better the results we get, the more fans that’ll end up turning up again.

“We’re looking at getting ourselves back on track and hopefully, having a few more turn up on Saturday.”

However, it seemed to take forever for the Blues to turn up in the first of three successive home clashes.

Chasetown’s Mark Branch drove over the top from the edge of the area and Nick Liversedge caught Dean Perrow’s attempted lob from similiar range, as the away side started stronger in the opening 10 minutes.

Too often the ball was hit long by both sides, with the mid-table Staffordshire outfit getting the best of any headers and deflections in the middle of the park.

It took 21 minutes before the Seasiders’ first real chance was sculpted by the industrious Andy Appleby, who squared for Jamie Clarke and the ex-Gateshead marksman forced Ryan Price to save low to his left, from 18 yards.

Jimmy Beadle, looking to regain form after a couple of quiet outings following his explosive five goals in five, then fired a warning shot out of nothing, that flew beyond the crossbar. The former York schemer has twice found the net from 40 yards plus this season, but couldn’t quite manage it from 30 on this occasion.

Tom Portas, brought to the club by Williams from Guisborough Town and also best suited to midfield, was playing on the right wing “to beef things up and make us look a more solid side”, according to his manager.

The 19-year-old was doing just that and he and Whitby were rewarded with the opening goal, five minutes before the break.

The former Middlesbrough junior exchanged passes with a man twice his age in Clarke, before racing into the penalty area and drilling calmly under Price from close range - his maiden strike for the Seasiders.

Williams called it “a great time to score” and the goal seemed to lift those in blue with Clarke coming close seconds later, with a bicycle kick narrowly wide of Price’s right-hand post.

After a season of poor second-half performances, Whitby were desperate not to scupper things after the interval and slammed in a second goal, three minutes in.

Jeff Smith, returning to the side in place of Billy Blackford, after shaking off a facial injury, found space on the left.

The ex-Darlington wide man crossed early for Appleby at the far post, who had an age to control and drive across Price, right-footed from point-blank range and into the net.

Chasetown chief Chris Brindley introduced Lee Wright and Danny Smith just after the hour mark.

Smith, whose goal took the Scholars past neighbours Port Vale and to the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in 2007, made much more of an impact when he helped out with Sunday’s fourth round draw, such was Whitby’s dominance on the ball.

However, disaster almost followed when Clarke, who was farcically booked for playing on after an offside call in the first half, clashed with defender Jimmy Turner on the edge of the visitors’ box.

Referee Mr Sharp from Hartlepool missed Clarke’s initial strike and instead, booked Turner for dissent, as things threatened to boil over.

As it was, the Seasiders’ number nine was left on the pitch to curl a free-kick straight at Price from 25 yards, after Whitby’s Smith was impeded. Matty Tymon eventually replaced Clarke and the Blues’ hero from Frickley five days earlier, should have found the net again, with four minutes remaining.

Appleby embarked on another lung-busting run before cutting back unselfishly to the edge of the area, for the ex-Hartlepool forward to scuff across goal and wide.

Another former Pools winger Callum Martin then came on for Smith, but the action briefly spilled to the other end as the final minute ticked over. Gary Birch got in behind Ashley Lyth, himself a recent addition for Ibby Hassan at right-back, only for both Liversedge and Andy Leeson to slide in and deny Birch on the fringes of the six-yard box.

Late on, Martin had a shot charged down, before poking the rebound well wide, but it was fellow-teenager Portas who earned the hosts’ man of the match plaudits, with Williams later remarking: “Tom was fantasic, he worked really hard, typified by some of the challenges he put in.

“I think if you asked anybody in the dressing room, they would have turned round and said Tom deserved it, which he did for all his hard work and endeavour.”

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan (Lyth 81), Robinson (c), White, Leeson, Williams, Portas, Beadle, Clarke (Tymon 76), Appleby, Smith (Martin 87). Subs not used: Blackford, Campbell. Attendance: 238

Co-operative Whitby WTFC man of the match: Tom Portas

Match sponsor: National Windscreens (Teesside), matchball sponsor: The Bay Hotel.

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