Whitby Town retained their one point lead at the summit of the Evo-Stik Norther Premier League on Saturday afternoon, with a 3-2 win at Coalville Town. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the win.
1) Coalville hadn’t done their homework
It was evident on Saturday that Coalville hadn’t put any research into the Blues, going into the fixture.
From the first kick, Whitby’s game plan saw no opposition, with the hosts looking startled at the football they were up against.
Realistically the Blues should have been out of sight by half-time and this, like so many other times, came back to haunt them, with Coalville getting on the scoresheet just after half-time.
It took 45 minutes for them to come close to stopping Whitby and work out how the Blues play, which is alarming for Coalville. Whitby Town are top for a reason, and you’d expect their management to be briefed and ready to challenge the Seasiders.
2) Jack Blackford’s goal was top drawer
Over the course of the game, Whitby fans were treated with three fantastic goals, but one stole the limelight completely.
Jack Blackford scored late on in the game to effectively kill it off, with a mazy run from right to left, beating three players in the process.
It was a perfect sign of what he can produce and his goal was pure class and will live long in the memory for Blackford and Town fans alike.
3) The players left off-field issues right there – off-field
If you want a manager to keep you focused, then Chris Hardy is the man, it seems.
Despite the recent talk of Whitby Town looking set to lose £14,000 a year, with the O2 and Vodafone masts set to go to the Rugby Club, Whitby looked as focused as ever on the pitch.
They went about their game plan unphased and forced a good result to keep themselves ahead at the summit of the Northern Premier League.
Even travelling to and from the game, the squad looked positive and upbeat. The journey home even consisted of players singing with supporters from the back of the bus.
4) Whitby just don’t like cup competitions
For years on end, Whitby’s cup woes have been well documented.
This season is no different, going out of the FA Cup, FA Trophy and Integro League Cup, the latter two coming within a matter of days of each other.
But in the league, Whitby just can’t stop putting points on the board. Each week seems to bring another good result.
Whether it’s cup nerves, or a mentality that hasn’t shifted from years gone by, Whitby just can’t seem to win those important cup games, particularly against teams from levels below, but always follow up with a good league result such as this one.
5) Whitby are close to safety
A bizarre way to finish when the club is at the top of the league, but the Blues have been looking to hit the sacred 46 point mark to ensure safety most seasons.
This time around, they are almost there by December.
Whitby finished on 47 points last season, with Chris Hardy’s men scraping survival and now look set to eclipse that total by a long way.
Wins against Grantham and Ilkeston would mean that the Blues are just a point away from that total and would have all but guaranteed safety. It would also ensure they still sit at the summit of the league.
What a difference a year makes.