Whitby Town’s hit and miss form continued, after the Blues followed up their excellent domination of York City with a poor 2-0 defeat at league strugglers Halesowen Town, on Saturday. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the defeat.
1) One up front doesn’t work
Chris Hardy looked to set his side up in a 5-4-1 system for the trip to Halesowen, leaving Steven Snaith up front on his own.
Dale Hopson sat deeper than usual, leaving Snaith isolated, further up the field.
Through the first half, Snaith looked continually frustrated at the front of Whitby’s system. Halesowen defenders were strong behind him, cutting Snaith out of the game.
The second half saw an improvement, as Hopson pushed forward and Whitby’s wing-backs began to find space, but it proved too little for the Blues, who couldn’t break through a stern defence.
Matty Tymon and Mikey Roberts were introduced later in the game, switching to a three-man attack, to assist Snaith, but their impact was also goalless for the Blues.
2) Andrew May is a miss
Rio, as he is known to Blues fans, has had a fantastic season so far.
At just 20, May has been a vital presence at the heart of Whitby’s defence, and a reliable defender for Chris Hardy.
However, in the last couple of league games, his absence has been felt, with sides getting in behind the Blues’ slower defence and causing problems, particularly in the first half.
May is eyeing up a return to the side for Saturday’s visit of Buxton, but reports suggest that he will have to wait a further week, until the Blues travel to Workington.
3) Losing width stifles some creative options
With the game slipping away from Whitby, Chris Hardy switched to use four defenders over the usual five, in order to accommodate three strikers.
Although an attacking move, Whitby lost the width of Callum Martin, who had been Whitby’s most creative force for the most part, and Danny McWilliams.
With Whitby’s threat coming from these parts, chances came at a premium from within the 18 yard box after the changes, with Whitby instead taking shots from range, with limited success.
4) Whitby struggle with rough pitches
The Seasiders are treated when they play at home.
The pitch is often like a bowling green, allowing the ball to move freely and give Whitby the lion share of possession.
Despite the latter being the case for the bulk of the second half, on Saturday, the pitch played havoc with missed touches and misguided passes leading to moves breaking down.
With a return to the Turnbull Ground, coming on Saturday, Whitby will be eager to get back to their own game, with Buxton in the firing line.
5) Mikey Roberts needs to feature more
The striker, who netted 23 times last season, has found opportunities limited this season, after struggling to fire so far.
Roberts has started once since the end of November and looks to have fallen out of favour, sitting on the Blues’ bench.
However, Roberts is never going to regain goalscoring prowess whilst warming the bench. That’s the fact of the matter.
With Whitby struggling in front of goal, in the league, the forward will be eyeing a return to the starting line-up to prove his quality to Chris Hardy.