Whitby Town cruised into the semi-finals of the North Riding County FA Senior Cup with a 3-1 win over a strong York City side, on Tuesday. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the victory.
1) Chris Hardy wants to win the cup
With a long trip to Halesowen Town coming up, the Blues boss was expected to name a weakened side for the visit of Gary Mills’ side.
This, however, was not the case, with Hardy only making two changes to the side that fell at Ashton United, on Saturday.
Lee Bullock and David Carson came in for Luke Bythway and Matthew Tymon respectively, putting Whitby at virtually full-strength, to match a York side full of pros.
The move paid off for Hardy, who, post-match, declared his ambition to bring the trophy back to the Turnbull Ground, telling supporters that the management team and he had earmarked it as a winnable competition, earlier in the season.
2) Whitby’s total football was back
Saturday’s result was a disappointment for the Seasiders, who registered just two shots of note all afternoon, and resorted to a more direct style of play.
It was a far cry from the Whitby side who were passing the ball around teams for fun earlier in the season.
Chris Hardy’s words, however, must have been ringing in the ears of the Town players, who returned to their favoured playing style from the first whistle.
The Blues’ third goal of the evening was a perfect example of how the Blues like to play.
David Carson led an incisive breakout from deep in his own half, before finishing a brilliant passing move off with a fantastic finish into the top corner.
3) Shane Bland impressed the York management
On the night, Shane Bland was on fine form between the sticks yet again for the Blues.
Bland pulled off a string of important saves to keep the visitors at bay, and earned praise from York City’s supporters, but more importantly, their management too.
The Minstermen’s youth-team coach, Steve Torpey, branded the gloveman’s performance as “excellent” and attributed York’s struggles in front of goal partly to him.
Despite this though, Bland missed out on the man of the match award to full debutant David Carson, who impressed in the middle of the park.
4) The Minstermen are in trouble
Gary Mills, though not on the touchline, named a strong side to face the Seasiders, but it wasn’t enough to stop them falling to an exit from the competition.
Over the ninety minutes, York allowed Whitby too much time and space on the ball and were duly punished.
With an experienced side of pros out, York looked alarmingly disjointed and made a number of basic mistakes, which led to two of Whitby’s goals.
Defensively, they were all at sea and showed why they sit rock bottom of the National League.
With performances like that from players who are in and around the first-team make for worrying times for City fans, who potentially could face a league clash with the Seasiders, should both sides end up in the National League North next season.
5) The North Riding Senior Cup isn’t a dying competition
This season, excitement from sections of Whitby fans has been evident, with them looking forward to the derby games thrown up in the draws.
The first round saw the Seasiders pit their wits against Chris Hardy’s former charges Guisborough Town, before facing National League York.
A healthy crowd of 326 on Tuesday showed that excitement is still there for this competition, which some claim is dying.
Although it has its problems, primarily with Middlesbrough not being allowed to field first-teamers, it also throws up some excellent games, like this one.
It also gives sides like Whitby a good chance of silverware, which Chris Hardy has recognised, hence his eagerness to re-enter the competition that he won on numerous occasions at Guisborough.