Whitby Town slipped of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League top five for just the third time this season, following a defeat at the hands of fellow play-off chasers Stourbridge. Paul Connolly takes us through five things we learned from the defeat.
1) Mark Robinson is still a key member
Whitby missed Mark Robinson’s leadership and organisational qualities at the back, on Saturday.
The side could definitely have defended the first two goals more effectively, and perhaps even the third.
Defending set-pieces, the Blues looked all at sea at times, with less communication than usual, culminating in two soft goals.
Dangerous players such as Luke Benbow and Kayelden Brown were afforded too much time and used it, forcing Shane Bland into a string of excellent saves.
Whitby’s defence, on the whole, works better as a three, with the mix of Bythway’s power, May’s play with the ball at his feet and Robinson’s experience, organisation and leadership.
2) Results only go your way, if you win
Despite dropping to seventh, a few results still went Whitby’s way.
The problem here is, though, if you don't capitalise, how is it helping the cause? It keeps you in and around, but the best teams capitalise on those sorts of opportunities.
Whitby could have done that, on numerous occasions in recent weeks, and could have even be sitting comfortably ahead of Saturday’s opponents, but instead sit in the chasing pack, after a Stourbridge win over Stafford Rangers, on Monday.
With more games in hand for teams around Whitby coming up across the week, it could see Whitby’s play-off task made a lot harder by the time they kick-off on Saturday.
3) Whitby deserve to drop out of the top five
Recent weeks have proven that Whitby are becoming masters of their own downfall.
Earlier in the season, poor starts to the second half were quelled after getting hold of games again.
Now, they seem to drag out across the second half, or some weeks, across the game.
The truth is, the consistency that was once evident has gone, with Chris Hardy’s side still looking as though they're suffering a December hangover at times.
Fine margins have started going against them, and the side needs to put them right, if they want to get their noses back into the top five.
This means being effective, like Stourbridge, at both ends of the pitch and putting teams to the sword, much like the win at Marine earlier in the month.
4) Mikey Roberts needs a goal more than ever
The last time Roberts was mentioned in this article, he was shipped out to Guisborough Town on loan. Hopefully a similar fate doesn't await him this time.
Chris Hardy is clear, though. He wants firepower and fast. We know also that there is no room for sentiment under him.
The aim of Roberts’ loan was to get him firing again, as well as to get him match fit. The latter has been a success, but Roberts still isn't looking confident in front of goal.
This was summed up when he went one-on-one with Matt Gould, only to try and round him, rather than pull the trigger, when he would have no doubt found the bottom corner, like Roberts of old.
Despite this, he still has plenty of time to come good, and with the run-in coming up, a goal or two at Mickleover wouldn't do any harm at all, however it happens to go in.
5) Stourbridge are no better than Whitby, just more effective
In truth, Stourbridge’s game plan worked. Damage limitation first half, go for it second.
They defended as well as they needed to, and attacked with purpose, using the weapons in their armoury to devastating effect.
Tom Tonks’ long throws caused problems more so than balls into the box at times, with the visitors’ key frontmen holding up long balls and playing off each other with great understanding.
But they were no better than Whitby, in terms of talent they just have two things that Whitby lack- height and strength.
Take away the windy conditions that made it easier for Stourbridge to utilise their game plan and you could argue it's edging more towards a Whitby win.