Whitby Town mini resurgence was halted at Hurst Cross on Saturday as they fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Ashton United. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the game.
1) Going long just doesn’t work
We all know what Chris Hardy’s side is about. Short, sharp bursts of passing whilst moving up the pitch with fluidity.
On Saturday, that wasn’t the case, as Whitby resorted to knocking the ball longer to a strike force of Mikey Roberts and Steven Snaith.
This continued over the course of the latter stages of the game, with balls over the top becoming bread and butter for the Ashton stoppers.
2) Whitby didn’t get the basics right
Across the afternoon, Whitby’s passing lacked accuracy, particularly in the first half, making it difficult for them to get into the game.
Ball retention, though not usually an issue for Chris Hardy’s men, caused a number of problems and saw the ball given away cheaply on a number of occasions.
Balls into the box were also unusually poor from Whitby’s wing-backs, giving Ashton’s centre-halves a quiet afternoon.
3) The Blues lacked attacking ideas
With Ashton United’s midfielder Richard Smith in goal for the bulk of the game, Whitby seemingly had a massive advantage on their hosts.
That wasn’t to be the case though. Ashton pushed on with intent and took the game to the play-off chasers.
Whitby continued to be pegged back, but when they eventually managed to break into the final third they looked lacklustre and out of ideas, testing Smith on only a couple of occasions.
Town perked up for a short spell with the introduction on Mikey Roberts, but soon resorted to a more direct style of play, effectively taking Roberts out of the game.
To sum up Whitby’s afternoon, had Dale Hopson not put his penalty away, Whitby probably wouldn’t have scored if they’d played until Tuesday night.
4) Andrew May is a big loss
The centre-half, otherwise known as Rio, is set to face up to three weeks on the sideline after picking up a hamstring injury at Frickley Athletic, last week.
On the afternoon, his presence and pace in the back three was missed, as Whitby got caught behind by Ashton’s attackers on a number of occasions.
The Blues’ attempts to play the offside trap, despite this, fell flat and led arguably to two of the three goals, much to the disappointment of assistant manager Lee Bullock, post-match.
With David Carson’s brother, clubless defender Danny, in attendance, Chris Hardy may potentially look to him as an alternative option in coming weeks, whilst May continues his recovery.
5) The York game may be a welcome break
A break from league action may be welcome for the Blues, who have endured a relatively tough period since the start of December.
Games against four promotion chasers, coupled with bottom four scrappers Frickley and mid-table Ashton have seen Whitby come away with just six pointed from a possible 18.
The North Riding Senior Cup clash with National League side York City presents a distraction from league action, and a chance to rest some key players, who have looked slightly off the pace in recent weeks.
The game presents a chance for players such as David Carson and Anthony Hume to get a starting place, as well as Mikey Roberts and Kyle Fryatt.