IBBY Hassan’s 90th minute winner finally ended Whitby’s 13-match winless run in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier and dragged the Blues off the bottom of the table, writes Andrew Snaith.
It was only defender Hassan’s second-ever goal for the club after 101 appearances and the 23-year-old told the Whitby Gazette he was “ecstatic chuffed to bits, chuffed for the lads, the manager, everyone involved.”
He added: “We’d been piling on the pressure for the last 20 minutes of the game and could’ve been out of sight in the first half.
“Matty Tymon was unlucky to hit the bar and the post, we kind of felt it was coming, then they went to 10 men and they just consolidated and it became difficult.
“We experienced it at Bradford PA – they went down to ten men and we struggled – so you’ve got to be sensible.
“Ten men or eleven men, they can still counter attack.
“Lucky for me, the ball’s drifted over most people and I’ve managed to be in the right place at the right time at the back post there.”
Player-boss Darren Williams made one enforced change with Tymon replacing fellow-striker Jamie Clarke, who suffered a tweak in his knee during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Chorley.
Williams was disappointed referee James Price barely added five minutes to the kick-off time after an accident on the M62 delayed Whitby’s arrival at Hurst Cross and the ex-Sunderland star believes “hindered our preparations.”
He continued: “It’s unfortunate that we’ve come out of the last two games with only a point, when I feel we could’ve had maximum points.
“Three points is what the lads deserve - they’ve worked really hard over the last few weeks and to be honest, I’m chuffed to bits for them.
The Blues had a man advantage within 11 minutes when Ashton goalkeeper Terry Smith saw red for handling outside his penalty area and with no keeper on the bench, young forward Sam Madeley took the gloves.
The in-form marksman notched both goals in the Robins’ 2-0 win over Frickley on Saturday – their first in the league since September – and they looked odds on for another when Chris Amadi put the hosts ahead, eight minutes into the second half.
This came despite Whitby dominating possession with Williams claiming it’s all in the players’ heads, stating: “To be fair we created chances, but we maybe have a few players lacking confidence in front of goal at the moment.”
The Seasiders laid siege with teenager Jordan Hugill, fresh from Glenn Hoddle’s Academy in Spain, given a run out for Tymon with 20 minutes remaining.
Right-back Ashley Lyth’s injury then left Williams with a conundrum.
He said: “It was a choice between Andy Leeson and Ibby, I chose Ibby because of his pace. They put on a lad up front who has a lot of pace and fair play to Ibby, his attitude was spot on and he got us the winner.”
Repeated pressure finally told when Jimmy Beadle slotted home his third goal in as many games to level the scores, with five minutes left.
The Blues then tested Madeley and his under-fire team-mates and must have thought the result was theirs when Hassan found the net from point blank range in the last minute, after converting a deep cross.
But an additional seven minutes of injury time must’ve felt like an eternity for the visiting supporters, before the referee’s whistle signalled Town were off the bottom of the table and finally ended a barren run stretching nearly three months.
Despite his new-found prowess in the final third, Hassan joked that he wasn’t expecting a striker’s role any time soon.
“If starting means I start up front, then I’d be more than happy to play up there,” he said.
“But I’d be a lot more comfortable in our side of the field.
“The chances of me getting another one in the next 100 appearances are slim to none.”
Whitby Town: Courtney, Lyth (Hassan 73), Robinson (c), White, Burgess, Portas (Leeson 90), Martin, Beadle, Tymon (Hugill 70), Appleby, Smith. Subs not used: Williams, Campbell (GK). Attendance: 113