Whitby Town were sunk by Salford City for the second time in a week, despite fighting back from two goals down.
Jordan Hulme’s near post strike, five minutes from time, edged a hugely different encounter to last week’s one-sided FA Cup tie, which the Lancastrians won 5-0.
Blues player-boss Darren Williams made one change with fit-again Kieran Weledji back at centre-half ahead of the unavailable Ibby Hassan.
Despite a bright showing at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday, there was soon a feeling of deja’ vu as Town fell behind inside six minutes to the Premier Division newcomers. It was in farsical style too, as a long punt was misjudged by goalkeeper Shane Bland, who was beaten to the ball by Danny Webber. The ex-Manchester United striker rounded the gloveman and tapped into the empty net.
Whitby were still at sixes and sevens when Bland clutched low to his right from Hulme’s edge-of-the-box effort. Salford were dominant and Richie Allen blazed over from close range after beating two defenders.
Only a terrific save from Bland denied lively winger Joe Mwasile on fifteen minutes as the visitors continued to push the accelerator and find acres of space in the Whitby half.
The Blues’ first sign of goal saw Lee Mason force Jay Lynch to beat away, then on 32 minutes, Weledji lashed Mark Robinson’s first-time ball inside inches wide of Lynch’s right-hand post from 18 yards.
Two minutes before the break, though, the game looked up as Dave McTiernan’s stray pass was intercepted by Webber who ran unchallenged into the Blues box, from the left edge, before finishing clinically across Bland and inside his far post.
Crucially, however, Town hit straight back with a rare slice of luck as Mason cut in off the left flank and drove a flat cross towards the far post, through a crowded six yard box and into the net untouched, with the last Whitby kick of the half.
Suddenly there was a buzz in the ground, the hosts came out renewed for the second half and immediately pressured. Former Middlesbrough marksman Scott McCarthy crossed from the right to the near post where Roberts flicked on and Steve Howson hooked off his own goalline.
Salford bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley showed their embarrassment of riches, midway through the half, replacing Mwasile with another dangerous wide player in Elliot Kebbie. Within four minutes, the youngster who has represented Leeds United and Atletico Madrid, crossed to the near post, from the right, where Weledji slid desperately off the Whitby line.
An impressive impact but nothing compared to that of Whitby’s first change of the night, striker Matty Waters. On for McCarthy, another with experience at the Riverside Stadium, Waters cut in off the left flank, within three minutes of his introduction, to curl a wonder strike into the top-right corner from 18 yards.
In the aftermath, City threw on last week’s hat-trick hero James Poole for two-goal Webber, while Williams rested the weary Weledji for new loan signing centre-half Luca Mellor, from Bradford City.
Poole, who was playing in League Two for Hartlepool United last year, made less of an impact seven days after his treble, instead it was his strike partner who broke Whitby hearts. Five minutes from time, Hulme, who followed Johnson and Morley from Ramsbottom United, drilled one from the right edge of the box that appeared to deflect off Bland’s legs and fly into the roof of the net.
It was cruel on the Blues and against the run of play, Mellor’s own deflected effort from distance, narrowly over, a minute from time was as close as Town came in reply.