Whitby fall at first cup hurdle again

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WHITBY Town fell at their first League Cup hurdle for the fourth successive year after another abject performance against Yorkshire opposition.

The Seasiders had lost out to nearby North Ferriby for the past two competitions and Stocksbridge Park Steels the year before.

This time, Darren Williams’ men were comfortably dismissed by First Division North promotion-chasers Farsley FC.

Williams made four changes from the side that shocked high-flying Marine 5-2 on Saturday.

Town’s player-boss rested strike-duo Graeme Armstrong and Craig Farrell, who’d contributed 11 goals in four games, with 19-year-old forward Steven Snaith beginning his first game in over seven weeks and birthday-boy Kevin Burgess trumping that by starting for the first time since October.

Sixteen-goal leading marksman Nathan Mulligan moved up front from the right wing, after a barren run of just one strike in 11, with Shane Henry taking Mulligan’s wide role and Williams himself returning to midfield, in place of Dave McTiernan.

Burgess wasn’t enjoying the start of his 26th year, particularly when Farsley’s top-scorer Adam Priestley beat the big centre-half for pace on 29 minutes. But inexplicably, the blonde-haired number seven, with 17 league goals to his name, blasted over the top when one-on-one with Nick Liversedge.

Not that the Leeds club had long to wait for their next opportunity - seconds in fact.

This time it was Williams’ awful backpass that saw Liversedge scramble to block Priestley’s drive with his knee, outside his penalty area, but the ball rebounded back to the lively frontman, who squared for the unmarked Ryan Harrison to tap in at the far post.

After a dismal opening, the game was well and truly alive when Snaith levelled within two minutes. Tom Portas drilled a through-ball for the former Hartlepool striker, who was forced wide, after hurdling Simeon Bambrook’s challenge, but an emphatic finish across Ben Higginson, from the left-edge of the box, showed why the youngster is so highly-rated.

However the hosts, fifth in the division below Town’s, continued to have the better of the game with Priestley firing, on the turn, straight at Liversedge and Harrison almost repaying Priestley for the first goal, with a driven left-wing cross that narrowly evaded his team-mate’s far-post slide. The Whitby right remained a favourite area for the hosts and it paid dividends four minutes before the break, when Priestley beat Arjun Purewal and Ibby Hassan before laying off for Dave Stead to sidefoot into the roof of the net, from six yards.

Two minutes into the second half and a superb ball from former Leeds United left-back Ryan Serrant, released Priestley on the right-edge of the visitors’ box, who forced Liversedge to save well, low down.

At the other end, Snaith hooked over from close range, after good work from Hassan and Henry down the right, while Mulligan cut in from the opposite side, but turned straight at Higginson.

With his back to goal, Priestley then swivelled sharply and brought a brave block from Purewal, while there was concern for Whitby fans when Mulligan hobbled off just before the hour. Almost immediately, his replacement Farrell, created an opening for Henry, with a simple square ball from the left, but Higginson easily-smothered his 20-yard drive.

Play spilled to the Town end, where Farsley again found joy down their left, with Serrant’s mazy run and cross finding Harrison unmarked, at the far post, only for Liversedge to save on the goal-line, with his legs. However, it was only a matter of time before Neil Parsley’s men grabbed a third.

On 62 minutes, skipper Chris Walton’s elegant turn past Purewal and threaded ball inside Burgess released Priestley, who steadied himself before curling round the onrushing Liversedge.

Alex White replaced Purewal in central-defence and soon after, Whitby should’ve had a penalty.

Williams looked to be pulled back, when he fired goalwards from close range, but referee Mr Brammall showed little interest as the loose ball was scrambled off the line and players from both sides, including a furious Williams, squared up on the edge of the area.

The Blues boss made way for Michael Tait, 11 minutes from time and within moments, Henry flashed a speculative 20-yard effort wide.

With the visitors finally playing some of the neat football shown in recent league games, the overwhelming frustration was their tendency to try to walk the ball in, Arsenal-style.

Town were also prone to counter-attacks as they chased the two goals needed to force extra-time.

Priestley could’ve wrapped things up, right at the death, after this time, escaping down the Farsley right.

As the towering Liversedge approached, the ball was lifted over the keeper, but onto the top of the net.

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Purewal (White 65), Williams (Tait 79), Portas, Corker, Snaith, Mulligan (Farrell 58), Henry. Subs not used: McTiernan, Campbell (GK).

Farsley Celtic 3 Whitby Town 1