Whitby Town move up table after ending run of defeats

Whitby's Tom Portas is tackled in last night's draw with Rushall Olympic'picture: Brian Murfield
Whitby's Tom Portas is tackled in last night's draw with Rushall Olympic'picture: Brian Murfield
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Whitby Town ended their run of four straight defeats and moved up two places to 11th in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier following a game of few opportunities on Tuesday night.

After the original rearrangement clashed with Town’s sportsmen’s dinner, Olympic agreed to a new date on the condition it could be a Tuesday, their usual midweek night – one Whitby hadn’t hosted a league game on for over seven years.

Blues player-boss Darren Williams made two changes from the side that lost 3-1 at Witton Albion on Saturday.

Graeme Armstrong shrugged off flu to replace Steven Snaith up front, while centre-half Lee Bullock was rested for the first time in 30 league games, as Town went back to their usual four defenders. Wide player Adam Rundle was recalled after a three-match lay-off.

Williams made just one substitution all night, perhaps saving something for Saturday’s home game with Ashton United. So despite losing veteran forward Dele Adebola on 13 minutes, Rushall, unbeaten in eight games, made all the early running without fashioning a clear opportunity.

At the other end, Rundle fired well wide on the turn, while Adebola’s replacement, former Mickleover frontman Karl Ashton, stroked straight at keeper Shane Bland following a neat build-up.

Armstrong poked a low drive goalwards, but it was an easy gather for visiting keeper Chris Gemmell, whose side bossed the closing stages of the first half.

Christian Dacres slammed just wide of Bland’s left-hand post, at the second attempt, from the edge of the Blues box, before coming even closer, two minutes before half-time.

The tall, solid midfielder saw his point-blank header tipped onto the underside of the bar by Bland after poor defending allowed James Dance to deliver a pin-point right -wing cross from the byline.

It took a perfectly-timed last-ditch leg from Richard Pell to deny the West Midlands side four minutes into the restart, but otherwise it was the Blues who had the better of it, after the break, without ever extending Gemmell.

Left-back Matt Wood looked to have twisted his knee badly, early in the game, despite the play being nowhere near him, but he carried on and enjoyed a fairly comfortable evening with little pressure down either flank. Town finally won a free-kick 20 yards from goal, on 70 minutes, after lenient referee Mick McDonough – an assistant in last Sunday’s North London derby – finally tired of the physical play of centre-half Jack Duggan.

Farrell, with five goals in as many games and a record of slamming home when considerably further out this season, stepped up but looped the ball straight into Gemmell’s midrift.

The Blues’ man of the match, right-back Ibby Hassan, limped off after some strong challenges were exchanged in the Town half. The popular defender was replaced by winger Shane Henry for the final 11 minutes.

Even with that attacking change, however, the closest Whitby came, late on, was Armstrong’s ambitious 25-yard effort that flew well wide of Gemmell’s right-hand post.

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan (Henry 79), Robinson (c), Burgess, Pell, McTiernan, Portas, Mason, Armstrong, Farrell, Rundle. Subs not used: Mulligan, Bullock, Snaith, Campbell (GK). Attendance: 164

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

Whitby Town 0 Rushall Olympic 0