Whitby Town returned to winning ways with a win in a high-tempo thriller at the Turnbull Ground against Buxton on Saturday. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the victory.
1) Home comforts are key
Returning to the Turnbull Ground was massive for Chris Hardy’s men.
Whitby displayed a more clinical edge in front of their home support, in a frenetic encounter during which both sides displayed attacking intents.
The Seasiders, on balance, were the better side, though had to work in the second half to take the three points, even after the Bucks went down to nine men.
Home advantage proved key, with a fresh pitch that was more conducive to the Blues’ style of play, unlike in the previous two league matches against Halesowen Town and Ashton United.
If Whitby are to make the play-offs, the home form will be crucial to the Blues’ chances, with away form faltering.
2) It keeps Whitby in the mix
Realistically, Whitby are fighting for a fifth-place finish, despite their lofty league stature.
The Blues sit second again after the Buxton victory, but with Blyth looking to run away with the division and the chasing pack picking up form, the play-off race is blowing wide open.
Spennymoor, with two games in hand, and FA Cup heroes Stourbridge, with three games in hand, sit in-form and just behind Chris Hardy’s men.
Nantwich Town and Hednesford United also sit just behind the play-off spots with games in hand, making it an intriguing play-off race.
A defeat for Whitby would have made the play-off task much harder, but three points has given Hardy’s men a psychological boost going into the latter stages of the campaign.
3) Mistakes happen to the best of us
Shane Bland proved that he is human after all.
A mistake from the Blues’ gloveman led to Buxton’s - and the game’s - opening goal, after he was charged down by Brad Abbott.
Bland slipped when controlling Kieran Weledji’s backpass and was caught by Abbott, who finished with ease.
Bland’s kicking was also, early on, poor, but as the game grew, as did Bland’s confidence again, with his performance growing over the second-half in particular.
4) Buxton’s discipline let them down
The Bucks racked up two red cards, to make it four dismissals in three games.
With this, the Bucks are now sitting on a slide down the disciplinary tables, whilst Whitby continue to challenge for a place in the top ten across non-league.
Across the game, niggling challenges were duly punished, leading to red cards for Danny Burns and substitute Nic Travis.
Burns saw red for persistently Steven Snaith, who played his game to perfection, hassling the centre-half, while Travis lost his head, putting in a rash challenge on Adam Gell, before trying to get the midfielder red-carded for supposedly striking him.
Despite grabbing an equaliser, the numbers soon caught up with Buxton, as Whitby pushed on to claim the victory, with Kieran Weledji and Matty Tymon getting on the score sheet.
5) Steven Snaith scored a goal of the season contender
With Mikey Roberts on loan at Guisborough Town, Steven Snaith, realistically, has a striking role to himself for the next month.
He made the most of that, on Saturday with another good display and a goal that wouldn’t look out of place in the upper echelons of the game.
Blues skipper Snaith ran onto Danny McWilliams’ pass and drove the ball through Jan Budtz’s legs from the tightest of angles, showing Chris Hardy his striking prowess with a goal of the season contender.