It’s seconds out, round three on Saturday (Nov 1) as Whitby Town eye FA Trophy progress and £2,700 prize money against Ramsbottom.
The Blues aim to deliver the knockout blow to opponents Ramsbottom, currently fourth in Town’s own Evo-Stik NPL Premier, in the trophy’s first qualifying round.
The sides have met twice this season, with Whitby defeating the Lancastrians 2-0 in a home league win in September, but succumbing to a heavy 4-0 defeat in the recent reverse fixture.
“It’ll obviously be a tough game,” Blues boss Darren Williams told the Gazette.
“They’re a decent side we played recently so we should have a good idea of what they’re about.”
Williams is hoping none of his players are tempted into a first-half sending off like that of Dave McTiernan in last Tuesday’s loss.
“With having such a small squad, any suspensions we pick up can affect us for a number of games,” Williams said.
“The red card incident, I don’t feel was a red – a caution would have been enough, but as Macca said himself, he shouldn’t have got drawn in.”
McTiernan, who tops the Seasiders’ scoring charts with seven strikes so far, was dismissed for catching Gary Stopforth with his arm, but the incident left a bad taste for Williams.
“That player did a job – he tried to do it to a few players during the game and we’ll get it over to them to not get involved,” he said.
“I don’t think it should be in the nature of the game – people shouldn’t be trying to get players sent off.
“I think he was trying to get a reaction, he flung his head back as if he’d been struck by Tyson.”
Williams feels the possible inclusion of fit-again centre-halves Kev Burgess and Richard Pell could make the difference this Saturday, against a side who have a patchy away record of four wins and four defeats.
“We didn’t have a full squad last week so that’s something they won’t be sure about, but we’ll be sure about them,” he insists.
“Kev’s improving day by day – it was good to get him a little run out on Saturday – and Richard was available to be involved, but I didn’t want to risk having a bench full of recent injuries.
“It’s a nice selection headache to have, but we don’t want to push them too far too soon, especially with us having a game on Monday.”
The Blues face another title-chasing red rose outfit in a first-ever visit to Curzon Ashton, 48 hours later.
Curzon were champions of Division One North, last term, finishing four places and nineteen points above Ramsbottom in the process.
They won 1-0 at the Turnbull, back in August, where Blues keeper Shane Bland performed wonders to keep the scoreline respectable.
The young keeper isn’t anticipating such a one-sided encounter this time around, however.
“It’s a crazy league, you never know what’s going to happen”, he admitted.
It will be tough – two games in two days is going to be really – but I’m confident that we’ll do well.”
Bland also agrees with his manager that the return of experienced performers like Pell and Burgess in front of him can only help.
“It’s fantastic for Kev to come on and do a decent job and Pelly’s back too so it’s very pleasing that we can get our squad back and regroup,” he enthused.
If Saturday’s Trophy tie ends in a draw, there will be a replay at Ramsbottom on Tuesday night, with a 7.45pm kick-off and a supporters’ coach leaving the Turnbull Ground at 2.30pm, seats just £10 each.
Otherwise, the Blues visit Curzon on Monday with the same kick-off time and travel arrangements.
Admission at the Turnbull Ground for Saturday’s FA Trophy tie is free for Under 16s accompanied by a paying adult, £2 for Under 18s, £5 concessions and £9 for adults.
Kick-off is 3pm.
There is a dominoes drive at the Whitby Town Clubhouse on Friday (Oct 31) night from 8pm, with a general knowledge quiz taking place at the same venue and time on Wednesday.