Whitby Town baulked at the chance to open up a four point gap at the top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Grantham Town to end their league unbeaten home record. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned.
1) Unlike Coalville, Grantham did their homework
Grantham Town came to Whitby with a game plan and executed it perfectly. A game plan that Whitby succumbed to against the same opponents, earlier in the season.
The visitors came to stop Whitby getting forward and did that excellently.
They pushed the Whitby midfield back and cut off the supply to the wing-backs, stifling the creativity that has served Whitby so well over the course of the season.
One example of that being the stopping of Dale Hopson. The Blues’ top goalscorer played the match surrounded by two men every time he took hold of the ball.
They also pressed with intent at every opportunity, leading to the first goal, with an error forced from Shane Bland by Lee Shaw.
Grantham also played on the counter to good effect, scoring their second on the break and causing Whitby no end of problems in both halves of the game.
2) Whitby need a plan B
One criticism that has been levelled at the Blues is a lack of a plan B in games.
Last night gave those critics some fuel.
To their credit, Whitby tried to stick to their game plan, but as the game wore on it was clear to see that it wasn't going to work for them.
Although nobody around the Turnbull Ground is keen on seeing the ball go long, playing Grantham at their own game could have been beneficial last night.
Anthony Hume sat on the bench, but could have been beneficial for the Blues last night. He may not have the technical ability that Tymon possesses, he’s strong and has power.
A switch to a more direct approach to utilise players like Hume when absolutely needed could benefit the Blues against the more physical sides in the division.
3) Luke Bythway returning couldn’t have come at a better time
It’s been no secret that Luke Bythway has been a miss for the Blues.
The versatile striker-turned-centre half has been a commanding voice at the heart of the Whitby defence.
His inclusion in the squad came as a surprise to many at the Turnbull Ground on Tuesday night, with Bythway passing a late fitness test.
He couldn’t produce much in the way of impact on his return to the striking position though, as Grantham doubled their lead not long after his introduction.
Bythway, however, looked hungry for the ball from the minute he came on, and wanted to get in on the action.
With Lee Bullock now fit, there is arguably scope to push Bythway further forward into a role that Town fans are yet to see too much of.
4) Eric Wilson deserves high praise
The Blues’ groundsman got the game on, despite a deluge of rain the previous day and night, much to the surprise of just about everyone.
The pitch played fairly well too. It was heavy on the sidelines and goalmouths, but in the middle, it was consistently good.
The ball had a tendency to slip across the boots of players at times, but other than that it held well in the face of yet more rain.
5) Cheering when players are substituted isn’t on
While the majority of supporters inside the Turnbull Ground gave Matthew Tymon a round of applause for his hard work when substituted, some took to cheering the fact that he was making way.
Supporters will always have the right to criticise, but there is no need to take it too far. Cheering when a player makes way is unnecessary.
Tymon was also subjected to a number of harsh words from those around the ground, on a night that was always going to be difficult for him.
The forward was fighting a battle with two meaty centre-halves who had inches on him to start with. Despite this, he put in the usual workmanlike performance we have come to expect.
Criticise players if needs be, yes, but don’t take it too far.