JAKE Faichney’s first competitive Whitby Town goal helped his local club to a deserved draw after a strong opening day display in the West Midlands on Saturday, writes Andrew Snaith.
Manager Tommy Cassidy handed competitive debuts to right-back Tom Marron (19), signed from Garforth Town, former Hartlepool United midfielder Callum Martin (also 19) and ex-Sunderland star Darren Williams (34).
Chase finished 10th last season, six places above Cassidy’s men and also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.
But it was the visitors who started the stronger with new skipper Mark Robinson meeting Martin’s right-wing cross first-time on the edge of the box. Keeper Ryan Price could only parry the low drive into the path of Faichney, who was no doubt relieved to see the linesman’s flag after poking over the bar from point blank range.
That was inside four minutes and moments later, overlapping full-back Alex White popped up on the left edge of the penalty area and forced another good low save, with Price, this time, able to hold on.
At the other end, Gary Birch showed little sign of being the Scholars’ leading goalscorer last term with a wayward early shot, both off-balance and off-target from 20 yards.
Martin, who was causing all sorts of problems out wide, then escaped marker Chris Peel once again, before feeding Dave McTiernan, who brought another Price stop, with a stinging near post drive, on the turn.
Birch later came much closer with a looping header that clipped the Whitby crossbar.
Keeper Tom Courtney collided with one of the posts and required treatment in the melee.
The Seasiders kept up their own pressure and should have tested Price again when Andy Campbell went clear but could only poke wide after close attention from stocky ex-Telford centre-back Richard Teesdale.
And it appeared Town would have been punished on the half hour mark, but for a remarkable double save from Courtney.
The ex-Gretna stopper first pulled off an amazing reaction block to keep out Darren Stride’s downward header and followed up by pushing away Dean Perrow’s shot on the turn.
The home side rued those missed chances as Whitby grabbed the lead seven minutes before half-time. White’s deep left-wing cross was headed, by Faichney, back across goal and over Price in a carbon copy of Matty Tymon’s winner against Eastwood last week.
But there was still time in the first half for Chase to answer back and it took Andy Leeson’s outstretched leg to deflect Alex Steadman’s effort just wide, giving a clue as to what was in store later on.
However, the second half began with the North Yorkshiremen creating the clearer chances despite playing mostly on the break. Two minutes in, Campbell released Martin whose powerful 20-yard drive brought another smart save from Price.
Another such break almost caught the hosts on the hour, after Williams took a high boot from former Burton Albion defender Darren Stride.
The resulting Robinson free-kick, just outside the box and to the right, from the keeper’s view, curled its way past a helpless Price, only to slam against the inside of his left-hand post.
Ironically it was Stride, who played against Whitby during Burton’s promotion season, who could’ve levelled the scores moments later, only to nod a driven cross wide at the far post when completely unmarked.
Cassidy then introduced Tymon for Faichney to start the tall frontman’s second spell with the Seasiders, however, it was strike partner Campbell who should’ve doubled the visitors’ lead moments later.
Chasetown continued to lay waste to Whitby’s stubborn defence, who eventually cleared long and found Martin on the halfway line.
The teenager slid in strongly but fairly, according to referee Smallwood, before releasing Campbell, who shrugged off Teasdale to find himself one on one with Price. But while the gloveman was enjoying one of the best of his games for the home side, Campbell made his job easy by trying to stroke an unconvincing effort under the keeper, who blocked for the umpteenth time.
This time Town were to pay as substitute John Branch’s free-kick was headed home at the far post by Alex Steadman, a new signing from Mickleover Sports.
The impressive Steadman, with his orange boots, shot early from the edge of the box with the ball flying worryingly close to Courtney’s right-hand post.
The same player then blasted well off target from distance before Whitby nearly broke through after a neat move. White’s throw was chested down by Kev Burgess for Tymon to swivel and fire into the near post side netting.
Stride then tested his own keeper eight minutes from time, with the towering 35-year-old forcing an acrobatic point-blank tip over with an attempted head clear.
Another sub, Gary Hay, caused problems for Whitby late on. First, he twisted and turned his way into the box, only to slice a poor effort wide after doing the hard work.
And deep into injury time, the same player blasted over the top from 25 yards as Town clung on for the scoreline they achieved in this fixture last March.
Speaking after the match, Cassidy had mixed feelings.
He told the Whitby Gazette: “It was a game of two halves, we played very well indeed first half but I didn’t think we came out of the blocks second half and defended too deep.”
The Whitby boss was particularly disappointed about the goal conceded: “It was a bad free-kick to give away and to get a free header at the far post, three yards out, was wrong and we’ve got to pick up on that.”
But Cassidy also had some words of encouragement for youngster Faichney.
“I thought he did very well - we missed him in the second half to be honest. He’s got a lot to learn, but he showed energy, enthusiasm and scored a great goal. I told him at half time he’s done very well.”
Whitby Town: Courtney, Marron, White, Leeson, Burgess, McTiernan, Martin, Williams, Faichney (Tymon 68), Campbell A, Robinson. Subs not used: Hodgson, Lyth, Blackford, Calvert (GK); Attendance: 351