Whitby Town were foiled by former Conference club Witton Albion on Saturday, despite the Cheshire side having a man sent-off with almost half-an-hour left.
Defender Cliff Moyo was dismissed midway through the second half, but Darren Williams’ men couldn’t make their extra man count, after fighting back from a goal down earlier in the game.
Williams told the Whitby Gazette he felt frustrated by the Blues’ seventh draw of the season: “We didn’t take advantage at all.
“It should’ve given us a lift, but I don’t think we reacted.
“I felt we looked tired and sluggish and didn’t perform how we could and should.”
Town’s player-manager picked an unchanged starting eleven for the fourth match in succession, against a side Williams had never beaten as Blues boss.
Adam Rundle fired into the side netting, after a bright run down the Witton right, but Williams’ record looked set to continue on 13 minutes.
Dan Andrews sped down the left and got to the byline before teeing up the overlapping Moyo, who somehow side-footed the ball back in the direction it came, with the goal yawning in front of him.
Dave McTiernan curled just high and wide of Matthew Cooper’s goal, but at the other end, Albion were less wasteful on 27 minutes. This time, Andrews took matters into his own hands, gliding past Town defenders as he ran from just inside the Blues’ half, before burying the ball past a helpless Shane Bland from the edge of the penalty area.
The Seasiders shot straight back, however, with in-form front-man Graeme Armstrong muscling his way through before slotting between Cooper and his left-hand post, barely seven minutes later. Moments before the break, Rundle’s skill on the ball was again apparent, but the ex-Rochdale winger eventually drilled high and wide.
However, Lee Bullock almost threaded the ball past his own goalkeeper, four minutes into the second half.
The evergreen Blues centre-half slid in to clear a driven right-wing cross, while facing his own goal, but only succeeded in diverting the ball towards keeper Bland, who saved well with his legs.
Town threatened at the right end, but Bullock’s defensive partner Kev Burgess could only nod over at the far post.
Shane Henry came close on a break, down the left flank, with 65 minutes gone, but Cooper emulated his opposite number with an unorthodox knee-block to deny the Whitby winger at the near post.
Seconds later, more home pressure led Moyo, who’d already been booked, to deliberately handle just outside his own 18-yard box and referee Michael Gillespie brandished a second yellow card for the former Barrow left-back.
Williams threw on Tom Portas for the quiet Lee Mason in midfield.
Portas has been playing through a hamstring problem, but soon after the 21-year-old’s introduction, the visitors almost regained the lead when Whitby were split open down their right-hand side.
As a result, veteran marksman Dave Walker had an age to pick his spot, but only succeeded in firing tamely, straight at Bland, from 12 yards.
It was another let-off for the Seasiders who introduced striker Steven Snaith and forward-turned-winger Nathan Mulligan for Henry and McTiernan, respectively, inside the final five minutes.
But despite the supporters’ clamour for Snaith, in particular, the changes were to little avail.
The closest Town came to a winner was Rundle’s final-minute free-kick, which Cooper punched weakly on the goal-line, but Burgess’ point-blank follow-up header was disallowed for offside.
“Our distribution was poor by the end,” Williams lamented.
“A number of times in the last twenty minutes, the ball ended up in the keeper’s hands.”
Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan (Mulligan 88), Henry (Snaith 85), Mason (Portas 68), Armstrong, Farrell, Rundle. Subs not used: Williams, Cook (GK).
Witton Albion: Cooper, Brown, Moyo (s/o 66), Harrison (c), Wilson (Purcell 76), Breeze, Dawson, Sheehan, Walker, Hancock, Andrews. Subs not used: Gardner, Moseley, Ashworth, Plant (GK).
Attendance: 273; Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Graeme Armstrong.
Whitby Town 1 Witton Albion 1