Whitby Town suffered just their third home defeat of the season at the hands of Barwell on Saturday. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the loss.
1) Refereeing was poor – but it wasn’t to blame for the defeat
The standard of refereeing wasn’t great, but Whitby can’t hold that as a reason.
Barwell were constantly on the referee’s back, trying to influence his decisions, but on the whole he was poor for both sides.
One decision that riled the home supporters was the one to only award a yellow card to Luke Barlone, after an awful, studs-up challenge on Shane Bland.
But ultimately, across the match, Whitby were made to rue missed chances, particularly after Luke Bythway’s opening goal.
Steven Snaith could have squared to Dale Hopson, just six yards from goal, but lost his footing and skewed the ball wide, squandering a perfect chance for 2-0.
It was a far cry from the ruthless Marine display, with Town missing a number of good chances across the ninety minutes.
2) Physicality was the winner
From the first whistle to the last, Barwell proved that they were not straying from their game plan all afternoon, and proceeded to put their stamp on the game, almost literally at times.
Shane Bland felt the brunt of the physicality, suffering a stray boot from Luke Barlone, which was arguably a red card, though only a yellow was shown, and to the wrong player.
Over the ninety minutes, the battle was won by Barwell, despite the Blues still trying to play football around that. At times it worked but in the end, it appeared to get shut down.
Perhaps a case for David McTiernan in the middle of the park, but whether he’d have stayed and had an influence, who knows.
3) Defeat isn’t always bad news
Despite losing out on this occasion, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for Whitby.
Results around them in the play-off mix went in their favour, with Grantham Town losing 2-1 at Mickleover Sports, Stourbridge losing 2-1 to Blyth Spartans, Workington losing 3-2 at Stafford Rangers and Buxton, Spennymoor Town and Nantwich Town all getting draws.
The result, therefore, kept the Seasiders in third, dependant on the Tuesday night results, with Matlock Town having the potential to leapfrog Whitby.
4) Snaith in the middle would have worked
Had Mikey Roberts returned a week earlier from his loan spell with Guisborough Town, there could have been a case for him to return to Chris Hardy’s first team.
Instead, Hardy had to opt for a trio of Adam Gell, Dale Hopson and David Carson, following the shock departure of Blues cult hero David McTiernan.
Hopson didn’t look fully over the ear infection that kept him out at Marine, and appeared more of a Keyser Soze figure in the middle, though he perhaps sat too deep.
In a game that would suit Snaith’s combative figure in the middle of the park, it would have perhaps made more sense to drop Snaith into Hopson’s role, and vice-versa.
5) Whitby tried a plan B
The lack of a plan B is something that has been criticised over the season, but Chris Hardy and his management team tried to implement one on Saturday.
The Blues changed to a 4-3-3 from their usual 3-5-2 and looked to create more in the way of chances, with Anthony Hume brought into the equation.
Hume’s strength freed up Snaith and Tymon to work off Hume’s hold-up and flick-on play, but it perhaps needed more pace to make it work effectively.
It looked as though it was a work in progress, with the wingbacks unable to push forward, as is normal, but it certainly has potential to work for Hardy.