Whitby Town's 2017/18 Evo-Stik Premier campaign got underway with a 1-0 defeat at Barwell. Paul Connolly returns with five things we learned from the defeat.
1) Whitby struggled going forward
The fact of the match is that the Blues just couldn't find a route to goal.
Across the ninety minutes, Whitby tested Barwell stopper Liam Castle just twice all afternoon, with Mikey Roberts and Steven Snaith forcing saves.
With the way in which Barwell set up, Whitby struggled to get out of a compacted midfield and advance their play into the final third, contributing to a frustrating afternoon.
2) The Blues couldn't handle Barwell's second half game plan
As mentioned, Barwell flooded the midfield with three to four central men across the game, to stifle Whitby's creativity and cut off supply to the forwards, forcing them to play sideways for the most part.
At the back, they were well organised and set up across the afternoon to play like an away side.
The hosts allowed Whitby time on the ball and looked to break out quickly after winning possession using pace and energy from the bench, which paid off with the only goal of the game.
3) Whitby look susceptible to through balls
Much like the final game of pre-season against South Shields, it was a through ball that set a forward away to open the scoring.
This time, it was Ryan Seal who lost his man easily, before converting his Hildreth's pass to break the deadlock.
Questions were again asked about the Blues' marking for the goal, much like the week before, with both Seal and Holmes shaking off their man with relative ease.
4) Anthony Hume's impact came too late
It took until the dying embers for Anthony Hume to enter proceedings at Barwell, though in his few minutes on the field, he yet again made a nuisance of himself, winning a number of key headers.
Though Whitby are not keen on direct play, Hume's presence saw Whitby bypass the midfield and look to create chances again.
Had this change come earlier for the Blues, it could have been a very different game and a very different outcome for Hardy's side.
5) Whitby's strength in depth up front needs to be sorted
The Blues currently possess only four recognised strikers in their match day squad.
With Luke Bythway being utilised as a defender rather than an attacker, that number falls to three, with Roberts, Matty Tymon and Hume the club's only options.
The search, however, is harder than it seems with a number of recognised targets having chosen to go elsewhere.
Blues boss Chris Hardy, however, is working on the issue and hopes to have it resolved sooner rather than later.