WHITBY Town took an almighty stride towards premier division safety with a 4-2 win at Matlock Town last night.
Despite pouring rain in Derbyshire yesterday (Thurs), the game - postponed from the previous night - went ahead, with the decision made after the Whitby Gazette had gone to press.
The Blues frantically rang round players to see if they could get out of work although keeper Nick Liversedge and striker Andy Appleby were unavailable.
The players endured a nightmare journey, getting stuck in heavy traffic after animal carcasses were spilt all over the A1, meaning a rush hour diversion through Thirsk, Ripon and Harrogate.
Seven of the Whitby players only arrived at the ground at 7.30pm although Town boss Darren Williams said the match officials and Matlock gaffer Mark Atkins “were fantastic” and asked if they needed more time.
Kick-off was delayed until 8pm but once under way, the Blues led 2-0 early on thanks to a Jamie Clarke double.
Matlock levelled before half-time but a second half brace from Nathan Mulligan ensured the Blues left with maximum points.
Williams praised his men for pulling off such a crucial victory in less than ideal circumstances.
“Everything has gone against us for the past couple of days. We were forced to play last night when realistically we couldn’t get the lads out of work and we shouldn’t have been put in that position,” he said.
“I told them to go out and get the win and they did - it typifies what the lads are all about, how much they wanted to survive and make the club stable in this league.
“It was as if we had won the league afterwards.”
Whitby are now four points clear of the drop zone with one game left to play, although they are not totally safe as they could still be docked a point in a dispute over the registration of Ross Gardner. This is expected to be resolved next Wednesday.
A point at Buxton tomorrow (Sat) would secure Whitby’s status in the EvoStik League’s top flight for certain but it will be a tough match - Buxton are on a run of 10 wins out of 12.
However, there could be a further twist with Northwich having their league membership terminated, meaning one less club could be relegated in any event.
Follow www.whitbygazette.co.uk/sport for all the latest on Whitby Town’s fight for survival