Whitby Town fell to their fourth defeat in five on Saturday, at the Autoworld Arena, as they lost 2-1 to Matlock Town. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the Blues’ latest defeat.
1) Re-organising took too long
When Steven Snaith dropped from the attack into the midfield, due to the introduction of Kyle Fryatt, Whitby struggled to re-organise straight away.
With this struggle, Matlock took heed of the invitation to pressure the Blues and punished Whitby, undoing the Seasiders’ good play previous to the final 15 minutes.
Inviting pressure against a team that is currently knocking out Conference sides out of the FA Trophy is always going to be a dangerous game; you will be punished and Whitby were.
Once the hosts found their rhythm, they pressed Whitby further back and forced a number of mistakes, before capitalising on them in a clinical fashion, unlike Whitby earlier in the game.
Alex Pursehouse linked up with fellow substitute Ted Cribley to level the game, before Marcus Dinanga, who has been immortalised in a song to the tune of Oasis by the Matlock faithful, netted a 90th minute winner, much to the disappointment of the visitors.
2) Snaith can do a good hold-up job
As the team sheet came out, Whitby fans debated how Chris Hardy would set his team up to face the Gladiators
In previous weeks, the set up has been Hopson playing alongside Tymon up front, whilst Snaith sits in behind, but Chris Hardy instead chose to go with Snaith in a striking position.
The premise was to use Snaith’s strength in a hold-up role, freeing Matty Tymon up to get up the field and cause more problems.
The move itself worked. Snaith had a good game, led from the front and took part of the workload off Matty Tymon.
It provoked an improved showing from the frontman. Despite that though, Tymon still looked low on confidence in front of goal, this being summed up by his reluctance to shoot early in the second half when one-on-one and instead laying off to David McTiernan.
3) Whitby generally perform better against footballing sides
What can be said for the Blues is that they have fared better on the field against the footballing sides, as opposed to the physical units.
Although it wasn’t quite the case last weekend, against Nantwich, it shone through for large parts of this game.
Whitby passed it around and played the football that had previously earned them their place at the summit of the division.
However, the age old problem of not killing teams off during that period came back to haunt Whitby again, and the hosts turned the game around in their favour.
The bulk of the performance was summed up by a number of Matlock supporters praising Whitby for their style of play, with some even going as far as saying that Whitby were the best team that they had faced so far.
4) The acid test has been just that, so far
It was once said that we will all go into the crucible at some point, and out will come iron, or out will come dust.
For Whitby Town, it’s been the latter thus far, having lost all three of the month’s matches so far.
The month was described as the acid test, and was unintentionally designed to give Whitby an idea of how they would fare against fellow play-off contenders.
What looks obvious is that Whitby maybe aren’t quite good enough to make that play-off shake-up at the end of the season, but they’re also not far off.
Despite the two defeats in the last minute, those good performances have shown some positive signs for the Blues as they prepare to face Blyth Spartans, on Boxing Day.
5) It’s another incentive to beat Blyth
After four defeats in their last five matches, Whitby’s want to arrest the poor run of form is becoming more urgent.
With the final game of the acid test coming up, Chris Hardy’s men will be desperate to come out of December with something to show for their efforts on the pitch.
The Boxing Day derby game is arguably the biggest of the season too, with the fixture being steeped in history.
This want to arrest the recent run will add to a large list of incentives to win the game, with the fixture steeped in a mass of history, dating back over fifty years.
A large crowd is expected at the Turnbull Ground, with an added pressure on the Blues’ players to take away the bragging rights from their old foes.