Brown blunders seal opening Blues win

Ste Snaith opens the scoring for Whitby Town against Darlington on Saturday'picture: Brian Murfield
Ste Snaith opens the scoring for Whitby Town against Darlington on Saturday'picture: Brian Murfield
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Two errors from Darlo skipper Gary Brown settled this meeting of Evo-Stik Premier and First Division North, on Saturday.

Despite the blazing sunshine on the North Yorkshire coast, which brought a group drinks break after half an hour, this was a lively pre-season opener.

Amar Purewal, whose brother Arj played for Whitby, equalises for Darlington against the Blues in Saturday's pre-season friendly'picture: Brian Murfield

Amar Purewal, whose brother Arj played for Whitby, equalises for Darlington against the Blues in Saturday's pre-season friendly'picture: Brian Murfield

Town player-manager Darren Williams tried out 18-year-old former Middlesbrough goalkeeper Shane Bland and Polish ex-Halifax teenager George Wysocki as as the hunt to replace Nick Liversedge and Alex White began.

Early on, Bland parried well from the dangerous David Dowson, before showing another part of his game, with a long clearance setting up the opening goal.

With 10 minutes gone, Bland’s punt forwards, picked out Steven Snaith, who stubbornly held off two defenders before firing first-time past ex-Whitby keeper Mark Bell, from 12 yards.

Snaith, who came through the ranks at Hartlepool, enjoyed the strike more than anyone, but it was two of the Quakers’-own old boys who combined for Town, four minutes later.

Craig James chested down and hooked over from Nathan Mulligan’s left-wing corner. Craig Farrell, who to the relief of most Whitby followers signed a new contract earlier this year, curled a free-kick wide, before Bland denied Terry Galbraith with his legs, then dived full-length to push wide Axel Williamson’s 20-yard drive.

The tall fair-haired Wysocki, more used to playing at centre-half for Halifax’s under-19s, worked hard alongside Dave McTiernan, in the Town midfield.

McTiernan, who celebrated his 29th birthday by taking the captain’s armband for the afternoon, forced Bell to save low to his left, but it was the visitors who levelled on 31 minutes.

Good work from new signing Chris Moore released Dowson down the right, who calmly squared for Amar Purewal to stroke home point-blank.

Purewal’s brother Arjun turned out for Whitby last season, but has now joined rivals Blyth Spartans.

Late in the half, Bell kept out Shane Henry at his near post, while Dowson’s swerving effort, from the edge of the box, rattled Bland’s left-hand post.

The usual raft of changes followed after the break, with Mark Cook (24), replacing Bland in goal. Cook came through the ranks at Newcastle United and featured more-recently for Harrogate Town and at Nobby Solano’s Universitario, in Peru.

Darlington’s latest forward, Andy Johnson, is a recruit from Bishop Auckland, he fired across the face of goal soon after the restart, then forced Mark Robinson to clear off the Blues’ goal-line.

But it was another second-half Darlo addition who provided the second goal, though skipper Gary Brown’s reckless backpass wasn’t in the script for the 200-plus travelling fans. They watched in horror as Bell could only slide the misplaced right-wing ball into the path of Whitby’s Mark Emmerson. The 18-year-old triallist frontman, from Wearside, was unable to miss a six-yard open goal, making it 2-1.

If Brown thought his afternoon couldn’t get any worse, he was to be disappointed.

With an hour gone, the towering centre-half swung a leg towards an innocous ball forward, just outside his own penalty area, connecting but somehow managing to slice over the onrushing keeper and into the empty net.

Late on, Steve Thompson and ex-Newcastle striker Paul Robinson threatened for the away side, while Williams introduced Danny Dixon, an 18-year-old midfielder, previously with Carlisle United and striker Nathan Evans, who steered wide in the dying seconds.

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson, James, Burgess, McTiernan (c), Mulligan, Wysocki, Farrell, Snaith, Henry. Subs: Williams, Cook (GK), Evans, Emmerson, Dixon.

Attendance: 443.

Whitby take on Hartlepool tomorrow night (Wed 17 July), 7pm kick-off.

Whitby Town 3 Darlington 1