Cup exits costly for Whitby Town

Chorley clear the danger as Whitby threaten in Saturday's FA Trophy tie'picture: Brian Murfield
Chorley clear the danger as Whitby threaten in Saturday's FA Trophy tie'picture: Brian Murfield

Whitby Town exited another national cup competition - the FA Trophy - at the first hurdle, on Saturday, as their poor home record continued.

Town have won just once in eight clashes at the Turnbull Ground this season and also departed the FA Cup, in the first qualifying round, last month.

Whitby's Kev Burgess (right) gets in a flying challenge'picture: Brian Murfield

Whitby's Kev Burgess (right) gets in a flying challenge'picture: Brian Murfield

The combined losses cost the club £5,700, while conversely, two victories in each competition last term, earned the Blues more than £13,000.

Ironically it was Saturday’s visitors Chorley who the Blues knocked out of the FA Trophy at this same stage last year.

The Magpies may well have been fearing a repeat performance inside three minutes as Craig Farrell’s 30-yard free-kick was whipped into the six-yard box where Graeme Armstrong’s sliding effort was blocked on the Chorley goal-line.

Blues player-boss Darren Williams made one enforced change from the side that won 4-3 at Ashton United, big centre-half Richard Pell returned from a four-game injury lay-off to replace the suspended Ibby Hassan.

Williams also changed the formation to an attacking wing-back system with three strikers.

Dale Whitham drilled wide for the away side, before one of Town’s forward trio threatened at the other end, in-form Armstrong was allowed to advance forward and slam just off target from 25 yards.

Whitham fired a weak effort straight at keeper Shane Bland, from the edge of the Town box, after ex-Halifax marksman James Dean shielded the ball cleverly, on 23 minutes and on the half hour, Chorley led.

Dean again held the ball up well, releasing Adam Roscoe down the right, who forced Bland to block a near-post drive, only for Darren Stephenson to tuck in unmarked from close range.

Blues almost replied straight away when Lee Mason sped down the left, but Sam Ashton got out of his goal quickly to narrow the angle and Mason promptly fired into the side netting.

Farrell, the scorer of two tremendous free-kicks days earlier, slammed another straight at Ashton from 25 yards, soon after, then came close a minute before half-time.

Shane Henry, playing as Town’s right wing-back got in on the opposite side, shrugged off his marker and laid back for the former Blyth striker to turn and see his shot charged down inches from goal.

At the interval, Pell limped off with a calf injury and Williams introduced midfielder Tom Portas, on the way back from a hamstring problem, as Town reverted to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation.

Early in the second half, Bland pulled off an acrobatic point-blank tip over to keep out Stephenson’s goal-bound header, while Whitby replied with Farrell chesting down Rundle’s perfectly-weighted through-ball, only for Keil O’Brien to race back and slide in as Town’s frontman prepared to test Ashton from six yards.

Armstrong then held off two defenders, but again Ashton was out quickly as the Seasiders’ number nine cut in from the left flank but fired straight at the ex-FC United keeper.

Dave McTiernan’s speculative 30-yard shot flew narrowly over the top, before an unmarked Dean somehow glanced a free header against the top of the Blues bar.

Striker turned winger Nathan Mulligan replaced Mason on 68 minutes as Town looked to push on, however, it took a strong full-length dive low to his right, from Bland, seconds later, to clutch Dean’s driven effort.

Chorley kept on the pressure and an off-balance Stephenson headed a right-wing corner past the far post.

Rundle then checked inside from the left wing and drilled narrowly wide of Ashton’s right-hand post.

A huge moment came with 10 minutes remaining.

As the match remained open, Rundle turned provider and Mulligan’s flicked header was brilliantly blocked low to his left, by Ashton, with some already celebrating as the ball appeared to have already beaten the gloveman.

Youngster Steven Snaith replaced the ever-green Farrell in a straight swap up front, nine minutes from time and Town did create chances.

Armstrong played in Rundle on the edge of the area, but the former Darlington star seemed intent on trying to walk the ball in, beating two defenders expertly but seeing a third get in and poke wide.

Williams admitted he thought Town “deserved at least a draw” and that his side’s second-half performance was on a par with the four-goal display at Ashton United in midweek.

Whitby’s player-manager was also happy with this week’s postponement of Wednesday’s scheduled home game with Grantham Town.

“It gives us a chance to train,” he said.

Whitby Town: Bland, Pell (Hassan 46), Robinson (c), Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan, Henry, Mason (Mulligan 68), Armstrong, Farrell (Snaith 81), Rundle. Subs not used: Williams, Cook(GK).

Chorley: Ashton, Walmsley, Mather, Teague, O’Brien, Whitham, Roscoe (Hine 68), Vermiglio (Wiles 75), Dean, Stephenson, Cottrell. Subs not used: Ross, Meaney, Jansen.

Attendance: 219

Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Shane Bland.

Whitby Town 0 Chorley 1