WHITBY Town ended the 2010/11 season with their highest points haul for three years in a lowly but safe 16th place after defeat on Easter Monday, writes Andrew Snaith.
Despite securing top flight survival six days earlier at Micklover, boss Tommy Cassidy wads unimpressed with the two Easter weekend defeats, 4-2 at home to Northwich and then, 2-1 at Stocksbridge on Monday.
He told the Whitby Gazette: “I was very disappointed in the last two games for different reasons.
“Against Northwich, we did very well first half, we were deservedly one up at half-time, but conceded four silly goals in the second half in a short period of time.
“Then at Stocksbridge, there were too many players who didn’t come to the table and we got beaten again, so in that respect, it was disappointing.”
Cassidy did however have some praise for young debutantes Ryan Swailes and Jake Faichney, adding: “It’s difficult to come on as a sub late in the game. I thought they did very well, but the bigger picture was there were too many players off colour for whatever reason.”
The former Workington and Newcastle Blue Star boss feels it’s time the club were in the top half of the Evo-Stik Premier.
“In the past two or three years, Whitby have been down near the bottom at various times and we’ve got to get out of that mode and start building a team to challenge further up the table and hopefully I can do that,” he said.
The final game of the season saw the Blues travel to South Yorkshire a man light.
Defenders Ashley Lyth and Ibby Hassan were suspended and Cassidy chose to rest keeper Dave Campbell.
Understudy Tom Courtney made just his second appearance of the season with young forwards Swailes and Faichney - who has been prolific with 46 goals for Fylingdales FC in Sunday League football - on a four-man subs’ bench.
Whitby started as if their entire squad were in the dugout as Stocksbridge strolled in the opening goal within two minutes. Jimmy Beadle lost possession just inside his own half and the Town defence parted like the Red Sea in white shirts, for Richard Stirrup to stroke over the onrushing Courtney - Andy Leeson could only slide the goalbound rolling ball into his own net.
Stirrup claimed the goal and Stocksbridge almost claimed a second. The Whitby backline shifted from disperse to stand still mode when Mark Ward somehow beat their offside trap.
The former Sheffield United striker had more time than he thought to chip Courtney, but only found the back of the net via the advertising boards behind.
Seconds later and left-winger Chris Hall found himself in acres of space on the left edge of the box and forced Courtney into a good low save at his near post. However, Town’s second-choice keeper, signed from Gretna last month to replace Nick Liversedge, stayed on the ground.
And after lengthy treatment, the gloveman, who debuted in the 2-1 win at Hucknall, was stretchered off with a dislocated shoulder. Campbell’s rest lasted just nine minutes and the 40-year-old was called upon immediately to punch away the resulting corner, but only as far as Hall, who slammed inches wide.
Ward drove narrowly over the top for a second time, before ex-Frickley winger Alex Callery’s first-time 25-yarder stung the hands of Campbell, who got down well to save.
As the yellow and blue tide continued like a ConDem conference, Jack Muldoon became the latest home player to find himself completely unmarked. However, the youngster showed little indication of his three goals in four record by slicing a diagonal shot high and wide.
Whitby’s first opportunity didn’t arrive until the 20th minute and when it did, Chris Batchelor found himself in the referee’s notebook for taking a free-kick too quickly. When referee Powell finally did blow his whistle, the homegrown winger’s set-piece was headed down by Beadle at the far post but there were no other white shirts within 12 yards.
At the other end, Ward fired over for a third time after some quick feet from Muldoon on the edge of the area.
The same combination five minutes from half-time then saw Muldoon dummy Kev Burgess and pick out Ward at the far post, who could only poke wide.
It looked as if Whitby’s only hope was a set piece after Beadle was upended and Batchelor curled against Dave Ratcliffe’s left-hand post from the same side of the pitch, 20 yards out.
And so it proved as Andy Campbell, who had earlier gone down after beating Stuart Ludlam as Ratcliffe claimed the loose ball, went down again in first half injury time. This time Ludlam stood on the Middlesbrough striker’s boot, which promptly came off as he fell to the floor.
The referee gave nothing as Campbell hurled the loose shoe to the floor before spotting the linesman flagging and awarded a penalty.
Much to the annoyance of most of the crowd, who believed the assistant was signalling a goal-kick, Beadle stepped up to slot the spot kick past Ratcliffe to level the scores right on half-time. It was the ex-York midfielder’s 16th of the season, beating last year’s tally and possibly his last for Whitby Town as he flies to Sweden at the weekend, to play in their fourth division.
Stocksbridge, who lost 2-0 at the Turnbull Ground in February, soon set about righting what they felt was an injustice and Ward was again clear within five minutes of the restart.
After beating youngster Joe Cornforth, Ward fended off Burgess but saw Campbell get a good hand on his low drive, allowing Leeson to this time, complete his goal-line clearance.
But moments later came the almost inevitable second penalty of the match.
Referee Powell evened the awards after Burgess tripped Muldoon and Colin Marrison just about forced his kick past Campbell, who again got a firm hand on the ball.
Then followed a special moment for Steels’ frontman Andy Ring - so often a thorn in Whitby’s side - who replaced Ward to make his 300th appearance for Gary Marrow’s men.
In contrast, Whitby introduced two players at the beginning of their careers - Swailes of Carlisle City, who play a step beneath the Northern League and Faichney.
The latter, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the last Blues striker signed from Sunday League football, Jamie Burt, nearly scored within three minutes of taking the field.
Sam Hodgson spread play to the right wing where Faichney’s 12-yard half-volley appeared to thud against post, Ratcliffe’s glove and the crossbar, before flying across goal and narrowly out of the reach of Beadle on the far side.
The Steels struck metal themselves moments later as sub Danny Joynes nodded down at the far post, but the ball sprang up off the pitch and rattled the underside of the bar.
Whitby Town: Courtney (D Campbell 9), Leeson, White, Cornforth, Burgess (Swailes 63), Hodgson, McTiernan (Faichney 73), Hackworth (c), A Campbell, Beadle, Batchelor. Sub not used: Scott. Attendance: 158
Stocksbridge PS 2 Whitby Town 1