A WORKMANLIKE display brought Whitby Town another crucial three points against promotion-chasing Buxton as they took a step closer to ensuring top flight survival on Wednesday night, writes Andy Baxter.
Both teams needed the three points for different reasons at either end of the table.
But it was Whitby who settled quickly in the blustery conditions, forcing Buxton keeper Scott Hartley to make an early opening save from captain Tony Hackworth’s low driven free-kick.
Minutes later, following some lovely interplay by the home side, Hackworth again received the ball inside the box and his sharp turn and volley again brought the visiting shotstopper into action, only for a later Jimmy Beadle long-range shot to fly a couple of yards wide of its target.
Whitby appeared to have the bit between their teeth and should have taken the lead in the 19th minute from a Leon Scott free-kick, which took a deflection off the Buxton wall, finding David McTiernan unmarked inside the visitors’ area, only to slice his sidefooted effort from eight years out wide with the goal beckoning.
A superb glancing header by Whitby’s man of the match, Kevin Burgess, went narrowly wide and although the visitors were encamped in their own half under constant pressure from Whitby, they did have a chance.
It fell to Michael Towey on the edge of the area, only for him to be brilliantly robbed of his shot as he was about to pull the trigger by the ever-present, Ibby Hassan, who stole the ball off his toe.
Whitby continued to enjoy the majority of the play but couldn’t capitalise on their dominance with a goal. Right on the stroke of half-time, Jimmy Beadle shot from long range but Hartley had it safely covered.
With the wind in their faces for the second half, many watching from the stand thought Whitby would collapse to Buxton, but the conditions seemed to suit the home side’s style of play much better, with the ball holding up more for striker, Andy Campbell, to carve out a few opportunities.
David McTiernan had a powerful shot blocked by good defending from Grant Black and at the other end, it took until the 54th minute before promotion-chasing Buxton had their first effort of note, when a corner was scissor kicked inches over the bar by Sam Johnson. Moments later, a 20-yard effort from Towey failed to trouble Blues keeper David Campbell.
Whitby continued to push forward and were rewarded on the hour, somewhat bizarrely, when Andy Campbell collected the ball down the right, looked up and launched what appeared to be a far post cross, only to see the ball fly over everyone, keeper included, and into the Buxton net.
After the game Campbell admitted it was meant as a cross but he was happy to take it.
Buxton fought back a little and in the 67th minute, a Josh Wilde 35-yard strike beat keeper Campbell and went inches over the bar. However, the home side continued to battle hard and should have increased their lead following a poor clearance by Hartley, reaching scorer Campbell 20 yards out, who lobbed the ball over the stranded keeper but off target.
Buxton started to throw everything forward in search of an equaliser, but Whitby admirably coped with any attacks and with three minutes added time shown, even Hartley came up for a corner trying to grab their much-needed goal.
With seconds left, they were then awarded a free-kick 30 yards out and a screamer from Tommy Agus was denied at full stretch by Campbell, who superbly tipped the ball around the post.
Delighted Whitby manager Tommy Cassidy said: “We had a non-stop good performance for all 90 minutes from everyone in the side, and in particular, our two centre halves were immense.
“I really think it was the best overall performance, given the weather conditions, I’ve seen us have since I arrived and it’s an enormous plus to any relegation fears”.
Whitby Town 1 Buxton 0