Blues return to scene of famous Gladiator joust

editorial image
Share this article

WHITBY Town return to the scene of a famous victory when they travel to Derbyshire side Matlock Town, on Saturday (16 March).

The Seasiders saw off Mark Atkins’ men 4-2 in the penultimate game of last season.

Less than 48 hours later, they secured their Premier Division status, with success down the road at Buxton.

It was also the Blues’ first-ever win, at the 12th attempt, away to the Gladiators, as Jamie Clarke and Nathan Mulligan both bagged braces.

Clarke left Whitby for Sunderland RCA, of Northern League Division One, earlier this season, but Mulligan remains and is chomping at the bit, after ending his 13-game goal drought.

The 26-year-old notched his 16th strike of the season at Grantham on Tuesday, following a barren spell that yielded no outfield goals since October. Mulligan, who’s mostly played on the wing since Craig Farrell’s arrival, told the Whitby Gazette: “It’s completely different when you get moved out wide - you’re more of a provider.

“I haven’t had the chances I was getting when I was up front.

“To be fair, I’ve missed a few games through injury, I haven’t been 100%.

“To play up front and to get a goal, I was happy with that.”

Matlock, in 17th, have had a rollercoaster of a season, winning just one of their last eight league games, but losing only two from 12.

They knocked Blue Square Premier Mansfield Town out of the FA Trophy and have reached the latter stages of both the Doodson Sport League Cup and Derbyshire Senior Cup.

They’ve also held title-chasers Hednesford Town and FC United of Manchester in their last two matches, thanks to second-half penalties.

A win could see the Blues climb to 12th spot, their highest position of the campaign so far - and Mulligan is certainly keen to revisit Matlock’s Reynolds Stadium.

“It was my first two goals for Whitby and it kept us up in the league, so I’ve got good memories,” he said.

“It’s a decent pitch and whenever we play on a decent pitch, we normally play good football.

“The confidence in the lads is fantastic - we know if we defend well, we’ll win the game, because we’ve got players, from all areas, who will score goals. We saw that [at Grantham] with a centre-half scoring twice.

“We’ve got Faz [Farrell] up front who’s banging them in for fun, Army [Graeme Armstrong], we’ve got Shane [Henry], Tom [Portas] now and again.

“There’s goals all over the pitch.”

Mulligan, who’s converted seven spot-kicks this season, hasn’t forgotten himself either.

“I’ve still got that target of 25 goals this season, I’ve had 13 games on the wing, and to be fair, we haven’t had many penalties lately,” he added, laughing.

Physio Kenny Bolton is anxiously waiting on the fitness of strike duo Farrell and Armstrong, ahead of Saturday’s trip.

The pair have contributed 27 goals between them, but Farrell missed out with an ankle injury in midweek, while Armstrong was replaced in the second half, after being studded in the top of his foot.

Meanwhile, Matlock will be without their own influential forward, in Massiah McDonald, who serves a one-match suspension.

The Blues will clinch their fourth league double of 2012-13 should they defeat the Gladiators, but it’s revenge on the agenda when high-flyers AFC Fylde visit the Turnbull on Wednesday night.

The West Coast outfit won the Evo-Stik First Division North, last season and beat the Blues 4-3 in the two teams’ first-ever meeting, back in September.

Alex White, who notched his first goal of the season at Fylde’s Kellamergh Park, can’t wait to try his luck again, on home turf.

“I was waiting a long time for it and now I’ve got four”, the former Stranrarer defender revealed.

“My aim is to score a few more before the end of the season.”

White, who fancies Hednesford to win the Evo-Stik Premier, thinks the Blues can be a “definite top-half” side, adding: “If we keep winning and playing the way that we are, there’s no reason why we can’t get around the play-offs.

“We’re raring to go - we’ve got a good squad, it should be a good run-in.

“There’s a lot of contender this year for the league and the play-offs.”

Fylde, who won the Lancashire FA Trophy on Monday, are just four points off the top-five, with a number of games in hand.

The ambitious club, formerly known as Kirkham and Wesham, have targeted a Football League place by the year 2022.

Kick-off for their visit to the Turnbull Ground, this Wednesday, is 7.45pm. Admission is £9 adults, £5 concessions and just £2 for under 18s.

Under 16s are admitted free, when accompanied by a paying adult.

Saturday’s trip to Matlock Town is still only £10 to travel via the official supporters’ coach, which leaves the Turnbull at 9am, call chairman Graham Manser on 07966 241344 to book. Gate prices at the Reynolds Stadium are as follows: adults £9, seniors and juniors £5.50, children (U15s) £2, with a paying adult.

* There is a dominoes drive in the club house tonight (Fri) at 8pm.