SECOND half goals from Wayne Brooksby and Russell Fry mean Whitby Town go into the new year still looking for a home league win, for the first time in their history, writes Andrew Snaith.
Blues player-manager Darren Williams, started in the Evo-Stik Premier for only the second time since taking the reins, with goalkeeper Nick Liversedge returning in place of Tom Courtney and Callum Martin also dropping to the bench as midfielder Tom Portas slotted into an unfamiliar right-wing role.
The strong Boxing Day wind in Town’s favour, if anything, upset their passing game with the visitors threatening on 10 minutes when record top-goalscorer Gary Bradshaw forced Liversedge to clutch neatly, low down, from an angled right-wing drive.
Halfway through the first period, Andy Appleby then sent a quickly-taken 25-yard attempted-lob high over the Promenade End.
The Blues then won a series of corners which finally saw Jeff Smith’s effort blown out of play before it could reach the near post.
With three minutes remaining of the half, Town had their brightest period of the match. First, Appleby was adjudged to have come back from an offside position, despite not touching the ball, as Jamie Clarke ran through and poked home from the edge of the box, the ex-Spennymoor frontman protesting furiously at the linesman’s decision.
Next, the unusual sight of right-back Ashley Lyth bearing down on goal saw the defender’s attempted cross to the far post almost catch out Steve Wilson, who clawed the ball onto his right-hand post, colliding with it as he fell.
Lyth – with just two goals from over 150 appearances for the Seasiders – certainly meant his next effort, drilling with the outside of his right boot from the edge of the area, only for the ball to ping back off the inside of the same post and Smith’s stooping header to be charged down by Ferriby skipper Paul Foot on the goal-line.
The wind seemed to disappear at the start of the second half, much to Town’s relief, only for the visitors to catch them cold within two minutes of the restart.
Brooksby danced inside from the right touchline, somehow firing low across Liversedge and inside the far post from a testing angle and through a crowd of players.
The Blues rallied and only a tremendous reflex tip-over from Wilson denied Portas a first-ever Whitby goal, as the 19-year-old let fly with a ferocious effort from 20 yards, surely bound for the roof of the net.
At the other end, with the breeze back, Liversedge saved well from Bradshaw’s free-kick, from just inside the penalty area.
However, the resulting Fry corner from the left, may have taken a slight deflection and a good deal of wind, but left Town’s five men in the six-yard box flat-footed and asking questions as it nestled in the back of the net.
Billy Blackford replaced Portas in a straight swap on the right soon after, but Whitby looked short on ideas and increasingly desperate as Liversedge helped another fierce inswinging corner over his own crossbar acrobatically.
Martin took over from an ineffective Jimmy Beadle, but looked similarly out of sorts. Ibby Hassan then took a leaf out of Lyth’s book, pushing on from the back and poking low and goalwards from the right edge of the box, but Wilson was down comfortably to smother.
Smith blazed another effort from distance high over the bar with six minutes left, before Town’s unlucky man-of-the-match Lyth was denied for a third time.
The 28-year-old ex-Leicester City star caught another right-sided angled drive with power only for Appleby to get in the away and lose the ball, with his back to goal in the six yard box. Liversedge had to be alert again and reacted well to paw away Alex Davidson’s attempted chip from identical range.
Williams told the Whitby Gazette: “We looked a lot more solid, but the conditions didn’t help the game and that showed with the second goal going in from a corner.
“We have to dust ourselves off and go again.
“I believe in the lads and believe we can get ourselves out of trouble.”
Whitby Town: Liversedge, Lyth, Robinson (c), Hassan, White, Williams (Tymon 85), Portas (Blackford 70), Beadle (Martin 75), Clarke, Appleby, Smith. Subs not used: Leeson, Courtney (GK). Attendance: 314
Co-operative Whitby WTFC man of the match: Ashley Lyth
Match sponsor: SG Petch, matchball sponsor: Ian Curry