Whitby Town made it two wins from two league derbies on Monday, after overcoming a tricky fixture at Frickley Athletic’s Westfield Lane ground. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the 1-0 win.
1) It could be the biggest three points picked up so far
Although the three points against play-off rivals Blyth Spartans were big for Chris Hardy’s men, this could be even bigger.
A poor pitch, combined with a battling Frickley side, makes it difficult for visiting opponents to gain an initiative. This showed on Monday, with the first shot of the game coming in the 35th minute.
Even after Whitby took the lead through Matty Tymon, Frickley continued to pump the ball forward and press with direct play, almost to full effect late on.
It is evident that not many teams will travel to Westfield Lane and get more than a point, thanks to a vociferous bench and rigid style of play.
Defensive performances similar to that of Whitby’s on Monday are a must, with burly strikers causing problems for ninety minutes.
2) David Carson needs game time
Much has been made of the Seasiders’ new signing David Carson, though a lack of recent game time showed, as he struggled to get into the game when coming on.
He did, however, show brief flashes of what he offers. Strong in the tackle and an eye for a pass, Carson has attributes that could serve Whitby well.
With York City’s visit approaching, it could be a perfect opportunity for Chris Hardy to give Carson those vital minutes to rebuild his match fitness, on the back of more potential minutes from the sub’s bench against Ashton United on Saturday.
3) The next two league games are must win
With a promotion six-pointer against Buxton looming and teams around the Blues having games in hand, points on the board have never been as important.
Trips to Ashton United and Halesowen Town are next in Whitby’s league campaign, building up the Bucks visiting on January 21st, before a tough outing at Workington, the following weekend.
Although both trips are difficult, they are winnable. Ashton will lack match fitness, having not played since Boxing Day, whilst Halesowen haven’t won in any competition since November 5th.
Six points from those games will set Whitby up perfectly for the challenges they are set to face in the weeks after, and could potentially see them return to the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
4) Refereeing inconsistencies continue to plague the league
On several occasions, referee Paul Tomes made decisions that Blues manager Chris Hardy would normally refer to as “head-scratching.”
Inconsistencies in his performance were visibly evident, and he looked weak when making big decisions, appearing to be influenced by the anger of the Frickley bench on various occasions.
Tomes, however, was not just poor for the visitors, but also for the visitors. He consistently penalised players on either side for challenges and scuffles that, earlier in the game, he’d turned a blind eye to.
5) Anthony Hume could be a competent centre-half
Though aspects of Hume’s game needed work, his performance at the heart of the Town defence was excellent.
Thrown in at the deep end, with no Lee Bullock on the bench, to replace the injured Andrew May, Hume took inspiration from a fellow striker-turned-defender in the absent Luke Bythway.
The tall forward showed determination in every tackle and header he contested, coming out on top in a number of them, despite it only being his second appearance in the position.
A solid effort from Hume, who could be a viable option for Chris Hardy, should May face a spell on sidelines and any other injuries or suspensions occur.