‘Men against boys’ laments Whitby Town boss

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MEN against boys was how Whitby manager Tommy Cassidy described the performance of his side against EvoStik League champions FC Halifax Town at the Turnbull Ground on Wednesday night, writes Andy Baxter.

Both sides started positively, playing plenty of attacking football but lacking any finishing as neither keeper was made to make a save in the first 20 minutes of the game.

While Whitby more than held their own at the start of the half, the visitors effortlessly stroked the ball around every inch of the park and playing some very attractive football.

Whitby’s Kevin Burgess headed against the post but was judged to be offside and immediately following at the other end, keeper David Campbell slipped while attempting to clear a harmless back pass, but managed to just clear the ball in time as striker Danny Holland was ready to pounce on the mistake.

FC Halifax then gained the upper hand and showed their superiority in the 27th minute when, perhaps harshly as far as Whitby were concerned, Leon Scott failed to clear a nothing ball which allowed the ever-present Holland to steal it and drive a low ball across the area to the unmarked Lee Gregory for the easiest of sidefoot tap-ins from close range.

Seven minutes later, the home side were two goals behind following a Tom Baker free-kick which again found the unmarked Holland at the far post for another easy header in to the net.

Whitby then appeared to go into melt down and with five minutes of the half remaining, found themselves 3-0 behind when Baker beat his man at the touchline and cleverly played the ball back to the incoming, and again unmarked, Scott Phelan, eight yards out, who gratefully obliged by crashing the ball in to the back of the net.

It was all becoming too easy for FC Halifax and in the second half they continued to show their dominance of much of the game and could have easily scored a fourth goal in the 57th minute.

Danny Lowe controlled the ball at the edge of the area and his powerful drive was superbly saved by Campbell, only for the rebound to end at the feet of the unchallenged Holland, but he blasted woefully over the bar from close range.

At the other end, Whitby themselves put together a string of nice passes which culminated in Jimmy Beadle slotting his shot past the beaten keeper, Jonathan Hedge and giving the home side a lifeline goal.

However, the Whitby comeback was very short-lived and in less than two minutes, Baker was judged to have been wrestled down in the penalty area and he stepped up to convert the spot-kick for the visitors to regain their three-goal advantage. The Conference North-bound visitors then could have made it five on 74 minutes when Scott was beaten to the ball which ended with Phelan put through one-on-one at goal, only to see his low shot superbly saved by Campbell’s legs.

With 10 minutes remaining, Whitby replaced Tony Hackworth, who’d had a steady game, with Ashley Davies who maybe could grab a consolation goal but FC Halifax broke away and scored their deserved fifth goal after Beadle failed to control the ball. Tom Baker stole it from him and found Phelan, who crisply struck the ball into the net.

When referee Stuart Campbell brought the game to an end, it was clear why FC Halifax Town have breezed their way to the title as they outplayed Whitby for much of the match.

Cassidy said: “It was men against boys tonight.

“But the most depressing thing was the goals conceded at Kendal at the weekend and three of the goals FC Halifax got this evening were simply down to our mistakes rather than the opponents’ creativity.

“Tonight, we just weren’t good enough.”

Sponsors’ Whitby Town man of the match – Ibby Hassan.

Whitby Town: Campbell, Lyth (Hodgson 63), Scott (Cornforth 77), Hassan, Burgess, Leeson, McTiernan, Hackworth (Davies 80), A Campbell, Beadle, Batchelor Subs not used: Lambert, Courtney. Attendance: 491