Whitby Town exited the FA Trophy on Saturday afternoon in Barnsley, following a 3-0 humbling at the hands of Shaw Lane Association. Paul Connolly takes us through the five things we learnt from the defeat.
1) Shaw Lane will be a Northern Premier Division side next season
Looking at the form that Shaw Lane are in, and the performance they put in on Saturday, there is little doubt that they will be a Premier Division side for the 2017/18 campaign.
A mix of good, physical players and skilful slight players became an undoing for the Blues on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s hosts claimed their tenth consecutive win by defeating the Seasiders, and they don’t look like letting that form slip any time soon.
Once they grew into the game, the Ducks looked more like a Premier Division side and probably gave Whitby their toughest test to date.
With them cruising at the top of the NPL First Division South, it’s only a matter of time before another trip to Barnsley is on the cards for Chris Hardy’s men.
2) Steven Snaith’s red card was unnecessary
The Blues’ captain saw red for the second time this season, triggering a four-game ban that starts against Coalville Town, on Saturday.
This will be Snaith’s third suspension this season, having received a red card and five yellow cards so far this campaign.
Not only is it disappointing that it will take Snaith to eight games missed through suspension this season, but it was also an unnecessary red card.
In a physical game, though, the combative midfielder is never going to be seen shying away from the midfield battle. Unfortunately, his involvement came at the wrong time
At 3-0 down, with the game well beyond Whitby, Snaith went into a tackle heavy in the middle of the park, sparking the referee to head straight for his back pocket.
Arguably, the harshest penalty Snaith should have received was a yellow card, but with influence from the Shaw Lane players that wasn’t going to be the case.
3) Luke Bythway was a miss at centre-half
Up against a strong and powerful Gavin Allott, Whitby Town struggled to cope.
The former Frickley Athletic caused no end of problems, using his large frame to full effect to create many clear-cut chances.
His presence could have been tamed slightly with Luke Bythway in the side, with the strength that he possesses.
We’ve seen on numerous occasions that Bythway is a steady and powerful influence at the heart of Whitby’s defence, barking orders and engaging in physical battles to keep attackers quiet over 90 minutes. Without him in the side, Whitby looked to lack that style of defender.
Bythway will unfortunately sit out of the side for a few weeks, requiring a scan on a knee injury picked up last week.
Whether this leads to an operation or not remains to be seen, but it’s going to be a while before with see Luke Bythway back in the starting XI.
4) Officiating at this level isn’t improving
It’s always easy to complain about the officials, but for many in attendance it was valid to do so.
Referee Dean Watson faced criticism from both sets of supporters and benches following an inconsistent game.
It wasn’t just Watson who faced criticism though, with his linesmen also coming into the firing line.
Whitby could have taken the lead through Matty Tymon, who headed home from close range, only to have been adjudged to be offside.
In truth, it was a close call, but that angered Whitby fans and it was to be a theme that continued through the game.
Several strong challenges went in over the 90 minutes, with Steven Snaith ultimately seeing a red card- one that could have been evened out earlier in the game.
In the early stages of the second half, David McTiernan was the subject of an awful studs-down-the-leg tackle, that could have had severe consequences.
The player committing the offence was punished only with a yellow card, for a challenge that appeared far worse than Snaith’s.
Across the game, heavy tackles came in that weren’t given for both sides, with Whitby also gaining some very soft free-kicks, much to the disgust of the Shaw Lane faithful.
Unfortunately for the Blues, the disgust later manifested as influence from the home side, with the referee eventually bowing to pressure from various Shaw Lane players.
5) The door isn’t quite open for Jamie Poole to return
Despite Luke Bythway’s injury, Chris Hardy confirmed in his post-match interview that he is happy with the make-up of the centre-half trio that started Saturday’s game.
Jamie Poole’s influence and vocal performances have made him a popular figure at the Turnbull Ground, with many believing him to be the natural replacement during Bythway’s spell on the sidelines.
Hardy was asked in his post-match interview whether Bythway’s absence will provide a foot in the door for Poole.
“Not at the moment,” Hardy said, but with only three fit centre-halves for at least the next two weeks, it may end up being a case of sooner rather than later for Poole, depending on whether Chris Hardy dips into the transfer market.