SLIDESHOW: Winds force Whitby stalemate

Strong winds meant flowing football was at a premium for this first-ever meeting between Whitby Town and their West Midlands visitors.

Despite playing into the breeze for the first half, Halesowen started strongly and Ben Haseley raced clear on 17 minutes, only to blaze over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Halesowen hurdle Whitby's grounded Davd McTiernan'picture: Brian Murfield

Halesowen hurdle Whitby's grounded Davd McTiernan'picture: Brian Murfield

Blues boss Darren Williams kept faith with Robert Nolan, but paired him with James Brown up front, as Steven Snaith took a breather, while Richard Pell made way for Liam Shepherd as Town went to four at the back.

Nolan had Whitby’s first opportunity, 11 minutes before half-time, but nodded nothing more than a half-chance well wide of the near post from a right-wing cross.

At the other end, moments later, Mark Robinson blocked bravely as Haseley turned and shot from 12 yards while Kev Burgess headed over a free-kick from the right, after arriving at the back post.

The interval gave Town a chance to regroup after a flat first half against a side who hadn’t scored in five straight league games.

Dave McTiernan twists well to win a ball in the air'picture: Brian Murfield

Dave McTiernan twists well to win a ball in the air'picture: Brian Murfield

Just two minutes in came a great opportunity as Dave McTiernan, but the Blues’ top scorer looked short on confidence as he poked tamely wide from 18 yards.

Halesowen then should have led as their skipper Joseph Hull nodded over a right-wing ball, from point-blank range. The recalled Shepherd sent a speculative edge of the box effort well wide, before Williams began the changes. Midway through the second half, it was Matty Waters making a first appearance in five games, replacing Lee Mason on the right wing.

Haseley sent another shot on the turn wide then hooked first-time well wide when unmarked. That proved to the marksman’s last action of the game as he made way for ex-Coventry City veteran Iyesden Christie and Aaron Griffiths replaced Elliott Turner.

With 15 minutes left, Snaith came on for Nolan and soon after, Niall Doran took to the midfield in place of Shepherd. This appeared to coincide with the Blues’ best opportunities as Snaith had a six yard shot blocked on the line and Burgess sent a bicycle kick well over from a corner.

Whitby's Kev Burgess winning out in aerial combat against Halesowen'picture: Brian Murfield

Whitby's Kev Burgess winning out in aerial combat against Halesowen'picture: Brian Murfield

A minute from time, Snaith miskicked as the ball dropped favourably for him at the far post and there was one last chance, in injury time, when Doran went clear but saw his snapshot charged down.

The skilful ex-Hull City youngster told the Whitby Gazette:

“We had a couple of chances at the end there, I had one myself, so I think we should’ve won that.

“It was hard to play in the conditions- the ball was up in the air most of the time- but you’ve got to do the best you can.

“I prefer it on the floor so you can play a bit of football, but today it was hard to do that.”

Doran also had an insight into why both sides played their best football with the wind against them.

“Sometimes it’s easier because the ball holds up, [playing with the wind] it’s sometimes hard to put weight on your pass so it can fly over and go out of play.” he said.

“If you keep a clean sheet you don’t lose the game, but as a team we don’t shoot enough.”

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan, Mason (Waters 68), Hopson, Nolan (Snaith 75), Brown, Shepherd (Doran 80). Subs not used: Pell, Campbell (GK).

Attendance: 265

Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Ibby Hassan

Whitby Town 0 Halesowen 0