Whitby fall to fifth defeat in six games

Whitby's Kev Burgess in the thick of the action'picture: Brian Murfield
Whitby's Kev Burgess in the thick of the action'picture: Brian Murfield
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Whitby Town were once again their own worst enemy as they fell to a fifth defeat in six games, at the Turnbull Ground, on Saturday.

Visitors Ashton continue their assault on the play-off places but were assisted by two poor pieces of defending as Town suffered only their fourth home league loss this season.

Dave McTiernan tees up to score for Whitby at home to Ashton'picture: Brian Murfield

Dave McTiernan tees up to score for Whitby at home to Ashton'picture: Brian Murfield

“The performance was very poor, very flat,” assistant manager Dave Campbell told the Whitby Gazette. “It was lacking a bit of heart really, very disappointing.”

One enforced change saw the unavailable Richard Pell make way for veteran Lee Bullock in a straight swap at centre-half and that Blues defence was soon under pressure.

Inside seven minutes, Martin Pilkington fired a lively effort straight at Blues keeper Shane Bland from the edge of the penalty area.

Kayde Coppin then cut in from the right flank and forced the teenager to push a powerful punt from range past his left-hand post, at full stretch.

Both sides battle for the ball'picture: Brian Murfield

Both sides battle for the ball'picture: Brian Murfield

“The football was poor from us,” Campbell complained. “We couldn’t string two passes together. I can’t imagine any of the lads thinking they’d played well.”

Whitby’s first shot on goal arrived midway through the first half when Adam Rundle picked out Graeme Armstrong, with his back to goal, around the penalty spot. Town’s top scorer did his best to turn Greg Pearson, but the full-back blocked well and keeper Paul Phillips was able to collect.

Only a 36th minute 20-yard scuff created any real danger as it bobbled across the face of goal. However, within three minutes of the second half, the Robins led and it was Chalmers providing the finishing touch. Coppin got between Bland and right-back Ibby Hassan, on the left-edge of the Blues six yard box, his square ball was then dummied by Dale Johnson and Chalmers steered into the empty net.

Hassan immediately tried to rectify things, racing to the other end and playing in Tom Portas whose drilled first-time effort was clutched low by Phillips.

Ashton win this aeriel battle'picture: Brian Murfield

Ashton win this aeriel battle'picture: Brian Murfield

Nathan Mulligan replaced the ineffective Lee Mason on the right wing, but the action was soon in the opposite half as Chalmers crossed from an acute angle after cutting back from the right edge of the six yard area and Pilkington nodded home the away side’s second goal, at the near post.

Town quickly rallied and replied within three minutes. Mulligan did well down the right, holding off his marker and playing infield to Dave McTiernan who beat two players, as he skipped across the penalty area, before slamming between Phillips and the veteran’s left-hand post.

By now, Shane Henry had replaced Rundle on the left flank and came as close as anyone, only to hook over from 20 yards in the 89th minute. While the Lancastrians could’ve wrapped things up in injury time when their own substitute, Mark Haslam, poked over the top from point-blank range.

Campbell had a stark reminder for Whitby’s players: “The lads are playing to prove they’re worth keeping.

Whitby pile on late pressure on the Ashton goal'picture: Brian Murfield

Whitby pile on late pressure on the Ashton goal'picture: Brian Murfield

“If they continue like this, we’ll need some new players.”

Although the Blues’ back-up goalkeeper did offer some explanation for the run, with most of February lost to the weather, following a sequence of 11 games unbeaten.

“You don’t become a bad team overnight – the break has had a knock-on effect,” he admitted.

“I think it’s knocked us for six. The Skelmersdale game played a massive part too.

“To go from being in a winning position to lose the match in such a short space of time was devastating.”

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan, Portas, Mason (Mulligan 60), Armstrong, Farrell (Snaith 45), Rundle (Henry 70). Subs not used: Campbell (GK), Williams. Attendance: 173

Co-operative Whitby WTFC man of the match: Lee Bullock

Whitby Town 1 Ashton United 2