Whitby got back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 win over Marine - Paul Connolly looks back on the five things we learned from the Blues’ dominant display.
1) Dale Hopson just keeps getting better
Midfielder Hopson rightfully walked away with the man of the match award, following a performance that was described as “scary” by goalkeeping coach Daniel Dixon.
Hopson again played a vital role in Whitby’s attacking play and was instrumental in the opening goal with his clever play, forcing Marine debutant to parry to the feet of Mikey Roberts, who finished comfortably from close range.
The Blues’ man of the match also played a beautifully weighted ball to Roberts, whose low, parried shot set up Matty Tymon to bag his brace.
The only downside for Hopson was picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, which rules him out of Saturday’s trip to Barwell.
2) Luke Bythway can play anywhere* (* maybe not in goal)
The versatile attacker, who has predominantly played at centre-half this season, slotted into the midfield perfectly for the win.
Bythway brought the calming influence and was a perfect replacement for the suspended Adam Gell. His showing may even make it difficult for Gell himself to get back in the side for Tuesday’s visit to Skelmersdale United, with Bythway running midfield partner Dale Hopson very close for the man of the match award.
The performance also further confirmed how much of an asset Bythway is to Whitby, giving Chris Hardy an option in almost every position of the pitch.
3) Mikey Roberts is back to his best
A dry spell is always tough for a striker to go through, no matter how long it goes on for.
Mikey Roberts was approaching the two-month goalless mark but a return to the starting eleven gave him the perfect chance to prove a point.
Last season’s top goalscorer built on his solid performance against Workington to finally get back onto the score sheet, capitalising on Dale Hopson’s parried effort.
He also formed a formidable partnership with strike partner Matty Tymon over the course of the game to cause Marine a number of problems.
Roberts will be looking to use the goal as a springboard to fire his way up the scoring charts and catch up fellow club men Hopson and Tymon, who have led the way so far this season.
4) Chris Hardy is going nowhere
In a bizarre turn of events, the final whistle on Saturday saw rumours emerge that Chris Hardy was all set to take over the vacant managerial position at York City, with outgoing manager Jackie McNamara taking a role in his backroom team.
Hardy himself soon quashed the rumours though, confirming that he intends to honour his two-year contract with the club just minutes after full-time, before Gary Mills eventually took up the post.
The rumours are a big sign that Whitby’s major improvement under the former Guisborough Town man is being noticed not just in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, but also across the Yorkshire and North-East non-league footballing scene.
5) Attendances are improving, slowly
Although 293 isn’t a fantastic crowd, it’s at least a sign that the numbers are slowly starting to return to the Turnbull Ground.
The half-time gate charge means that the attendance can be monitored a lot more closely and will see the gates increase as the results continue to come.
Chris Hardy has set the goal of getting 300 plus into the ground, and this is the closest Whitby have come so far this season.
For the football that’s being played, many find it baffling that Whitby haven’t broken that 300 mark already, but as word spreads numbers can only get better.