Buoyed by defender Kev Burgess’ 15th-minute rocket, Whitby Town roared back from their midweek defeat to leaders FC United with a comfortable win at Witton Albion on Saturday.
The victory saw Town leapfrog their Cheshire rivals and give themselves breathing space from the EvoStik Premier relegation trapdoor.
It was a good game and we deserved what we got.Darren Williams
Williams hailed it as a “fantastic performance” from his troops.
“I think we played well, we did what we had to do and to score three goals from outside the box is a rarity for us this season, but it’s fantastic to have that,” he said.
The Blues’ player-boss made two changes from the side that went down 4-0 to table-toppers FC United of Manchester on Wednesday.
With top scorer Dave McTiernan injured and striker Jamie Clarke missing out due to work, in came ex-Middlesbrough marksman Matty Waters and there was a return for centre-half Lee Bullock as Liam Shepherd moved into midfield.
In a frenetic opening, it was the Northwich outfit who threatened first, inside four minutes.
The highly-rated Alex Titchiner backheeled for Danny Andrews to clip the top of the crossbar from the edge of the Blues box.
At the other end, Town quickly countered, forcing Andy Robertson to touch Waters’ low drive onto his right-hand post then tip over Lee Mason’s explosive 18-yard follow-up.
Always keen to get forward, Burgess then chested down on halfway, beating two players before stunning Robertson with a skidding 30-yard piledriver that nestled in the back of the net.
Moments later, James Brown headed down nicely for Mason to slam inches wide. Moving the ball around well, allied with a willingness to pressure the hosts from the front, Whitby got a deserved second, midway through the first half.
Robertson miskicked a clearance straight to Brown, who still had plenty to do, but found no problem poking low to the keeper’s right from the edge of the penalty area.
The lively Josh Hancock and Luke Clark replaced booked duo Zac Corbett and Jake Parker at the interval, but it was the Blues who practically ended the contest, ten minutes after the restart.
A succession of corners was followed by the puzzling belated award of a third, on the right. Shepherd worked the set piece quickly to Dale Hopson, on the right-edge of the box for the former Darlington midfielder to drill an unstoppable low effort across Robertson and inside his far post.
Shepherd had, by now, picked up a silly yellow card for kicking the ball away, but he can’t have imagined what was to follow as the ex-York schemer was dismissed following an innocuous slide challenge on the edge of the Witton penalty area.
Williams said opposite number Tony Sullivan agreed it was a harsh decision, adding: “It was hard work and we got a man sent off too, which made it harder, but we defended well and took as much pressure off the back three lads as we could.
“There were some poor decisions – I don’t think it should’ve been a sending off- he could’ve just had a word.”
Matty Brown replaced namesake James for the last 20 minutes and gave his usual determined performance.
Another substitute, forward Rob Nolan, on for Mason, came close in injury time with a vicious far-post curling effort from 18 yards after cutting in off the left.
In-between, Albion’s afternoon was summed up as Titchiner headed a left-wing cross against the angle of Shane Bland’s left-hand post and the crossbar, with right wing-back Ibby Hassan clearing off the goal-line. “Matty Waters has come in and done a great job and Lee Bullock’s come in at the back and really steadied the ship,” Williams concluded.
“It was a good game and we deserved what we got.”
Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Bullock, Burgess, Pell, Mason (Nolan 78), Hopson, Waters, J Brown (M Brown 70), Shepherd. Subs not used: Raby, Williams, Campbell (GK).
Witton Albion 0 Whitby Town 3