A LATE strike from goal machine Ross Hannah ruined any hopes Whitby Town had of pulling further away from the relegation trapdoor last night (Wed).
Victory in a congested bottom half of the table could have lifted Tommy Cassidy’s Blues from 17th to 14th and this looked on the cards thanks to Leon Scott’s first half opener.
But the Derbyshire side turned things around at the Turnbull with a strong second half performance to keep their promotion hopes alive.
And Whitby’s already threadbare squad will be stretched even further for tomorrow’s home game against Bradford Park Avenue after striker Andy Campbell went off injured and full back Ashley Lyth was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.
Speaking after the match, Cassidy admitted: “I was very disappointed to be one nil up with 25 minutes left and still lose the game.”
On a blustery night braved by just over 200 hardy souls, Matlock fired an early warning as Liam King arrowed a shot only inches wide of the mark.
Referee Neil Sharp showed no clemency when he booked Whitby’s Lyth and Joe Cornforth, rather harshly, within the space of 60 seconds.
In a half of few chances, the Gladiators’ Kris Bowler struck a well-aimed shot through a crowd of players but not past keeper Dave Campbell.
Then, out of the blue, the home side took the lead on 38 minutes. Cornforth’s neat threaded ball was chested down by man of the match Scott who picked his spot past keeper Adam Sollitt for 1-0.
Sub Andy Leeson thought he had doubled the Blues’ lead prior to the break but he was controversially flagged offside before tucking home.
Whitby again came close early in the second half when, from Scott’s knock down, Davey Southern’s diving header brought a reflex save from Sollitt. But the visitors started to pile on the pressure and King crowned a fine display by directing a 20-yard drive inside Campbell’s near post.
Whitby then suffered a hairy moment as Campbell’s poor clearance ricocheted off Hannah’s back and although Nathan Joynes directed his long-range shot on target, it lacked the power to trouble the relieved shot-stopper.
But before the watching scouts had departed, that man Hannah – who had been kept quiet by the outstanding Ibby Hassan – predictably wrapped up the points when he found space to shoot across Campbell for an 87th minute winner.
Whitby Town: Campbell, Lyth, White, Hassan, Burgess, Cornforth, Southern, Hodgson, Campbell (Leeson 22), Beadle (c), Scott. Attendance: 211.