WHITBY Town look to end a run of three successive defeats when they visit Woodley Sports and their 3G pitch in the FA Trophy’s first qualifying round, this Saturday, writes Andrew Snaith.
The national competition for sides within the top four levels of non-league has thrown up a chance to exorcise the ghosts of 2006.
Lee Nogan’s Whitby lost 3-2 in the Trophy at the Evo Stik First Division North outfit, but current manager Tommy Cassidy hopes his team will be better prepared.
The Blues’ boss told the Whitby Gazette that there’s nothing to fear from a plastic pitch.
“I’ve been down there twice and they play on it, obviously, every week and it’ll suit them.
“The ball goes quicker, it bounces a lot and it does take a while to get used to it, but, as I told the players, we play on 3G pitches Wednesday nights and Monday nights so we’re not strangers to it.
“We train on one at King’s Academy and at Acklam.”
The former Newcastle United and Burnley midfielder also has playing experience on artificial surfaces.
He said: “I was lucky or unlucky enough many years ago to play at the QPR pitch in London.
“The goalkeeper was kicking it and the ball was landing on the halfway line, then bouncing over the other team’s bar.
“I’ve played on one or two abroad, I’m not a big fan, but it’s a lot different now.”
Stockport-based Sports lie fifth in the division below the Evo-Stik Premier, having recently brought in management-pairing Matt Broadhead and the experienced former Leek boss Paul Ogden.
They have suffered one home league defeat all season and conceded just eight times in 11 outings, making them the meanest defence in the First Division North.
Cassidy certainly won’t be taking them for granted, stating: “I think they beat Skelmersdale in the last round and Skelmersdale are in the top two of their league, so it’ll be very difficult.
“Just because they’re a league below us, doesn’t mean anything.
“We showed on Saturday, Blyth are in the league above us and we could have beaten them, with a bit of luck.”
Cassidy has also outlined what he’s looking for in an assistant after losing the services of Tony Elliott, who’s returned to the number two role at former club Workington Reds.
“One or two have come into the frame,” he said. “I’m looking for someone strong who can argue against me, as well as for me - I don’t want a yes man, I don’t want a rebel.
“Tony had a great input, I’m very disappointed he’s left, but he has his own reasons for leaving the club.
“I’ve got to see who’s available, meet them, talk to them, see what their ideas are.
“Obviously, I want to know them, but if I don’t know them, that doesn’t rule anyone out.”
The former Gateshead supremo, who celebrates a year in charge of the Blues next Thursday, also revealed after Saturday’s FA Cup exit, that he’s chasing at least two forward players, with no deal done as yet.
“It’s quietened a little bit, there’s a money issue coming into it, which doesn’t help, but there’s nothing definite yet.
“In an ideal world, I’d like to bring three players in.
“It’s doubtful for Saturday, but I’m hoping to get someone in the next week.”
Despite that setback and admitting to fans that Town’s losing run and league position is “embarrassing”, Cassidy says he still believes in his team.
“After watching the players train, there’s a good spirit there,” he said.
“We’re expecting a tough game and we know that if we can go there and get something, it’ll be a massive bonus.”
Kick-off at the Neil Rourke Stadium is 3pm, with a supporters’ coach leaving the Turnbull Ground at 9.30am Saturday.
Seats are just £10 each.