SUBSTITUTE Ramone Stephens added to Whitby Town’s relegation fears with a 76th minute winner for in-form Chasetown as Whitby remain fifth-bottom despite a good performance on Saturday.
Whitby manager Tommy Cassidy made two changes from the side that went down 3-0 to Worksop Town nearly three weeks earlier.
Defender Paul Johnson has gone back to Hartlepool United, but centre-half Ibby Hassan returned to replace him after a three-game suspension that spanned two months.
Top scorer Jimmy Beadle made a surprise comeback after his broken arm, with Andy Leeson dropping to the bench.
The Blues started well with Chris Batchelor firing just over the top from 20 yards with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Then soon after, skipper Tony Hackworth drove low past keeper Ryan Price’s right-hand post from a similiar distance.
The visitors, fresh from victories over Blue Square Premier Grimsby Town in the FA Trophy and third-placed Matlock Town, first threatened on the half hour, when Dave Campbell parried from Grant Ryan and Gary Birch skied the rebound from the edge of the area.
At the other end, a neat move finished with Hackworth racing into the box from the right and forcing Price to tip a fierce angled drive against the top of the crossbar.
The second half was an open affair with Ryan’s scuffed volley rolling across goal and inches past Campbell’s right-hand post.
Moments later, the Whitby keeper flapped at a deep inswinging cross and Richard Davies headed just wide.
Price nearly made a crucial error of his own after Davey Southern forced a scuffed clearance from the young gloveman near the corner flag, which dropped to Beadle, whose first time shot from 40 yards flew wide, with the keeper stranded.
Chasetown should then have led when the bustling Birch was left completely unmarked inside the six-yard box, but inexplicably nodded wide when it seemed easier to score.
Leon Scott and Beadle tested Price from distance, before Stephens replaced Birch and broke the deadlock after just five minutes on the pitch.
The lively forward went down theatrically under Scott’s clean-looking challenge, but when Campbell could only fend the resulting cross away, Stephens was in the clear to drive calmly into the bottom-right corner.
The strong, towering figure of Ash Davis replaced Beadle with eight minutes remaining, as Whitby went with three strikers, but the next chance was to fall Chase’s way.
Second sub for the West Midlands outfit, Dean Perrow, raced clear on the break, only for Hassan to track back 40 yards or more and get in a perfectly-timed slide tackle on the edge of his own area.
This was typical of the former Chester-le-Street defender’s afternoon, as his nine-week absence seemed a distant memory.
Whitby had two half chances in the final two minutes.
First, an almighty scramble ended with Davis poking over the top from close range.
Then, in the dying seconds, Hackworth’s shot on the turn was held by a nervous Price low down, at the second attempt.
After the game, Whitby’s first at home on a Saturday for nine weeks, Cassidy admitted the Seasiders are now “in a relegation battle”, but added: “If we continue to play like that, we will win it.
“We got beaten 1-0, but I was happy with many aspects.
“We competed well, battled hard and won tackles.
“Against Ferriby and Worksop we were poor, we were not poor today.”
Whitby Town: Campbell D, Craddock, Scott, Hassan, Burgess, McReady, Southern, Hackworth(c), Campbell A, Beadle(Davis 82), Batchelor. Subs not used: Lyth, Leeson, Dalton, Liversedge (GK). Attendance: 282
Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the match: John McReady
Match sponsor: Hatton Traffic Management; matchball sponsor: Bothams of Whitby
Whitby Town 0 Chasetown 1