A SPARKLING hat-trick from Nathan Mulligan helped Whitby Town to victory in a seven-goal thriller against a Sunderland academy side last night.
Boss Darren Williams said yesterday he was delighted with his side’s performance and how things are generally starting to shape up for the coming league season.
“That was the kind of football we want to try to play throughout the season,” he said.
“It was important we were up against Sunderland who have the same type of ideas and want to play football.
“If we had played like that in the EvoStik League the other team would have been shattered by half-time from chasing the ball.”
Mulligan opened the scoring for the Blues after a pretty but fairly uneventful first quarter of an hour.
Ex-Port Vale striker Jeff Smith made a strong run into the box before he was brought down by Liam Agnew and much to the youngster’s surprise, a penalty was given.
Mulligan slammed his spot-kick emphatically into the far corner of the net.
The Blues’ new acquisition from Blyth, Graeme Armstrong, showed what he was about by having the strength to hold off his man before twice smashing the ball only a whisker over the bar.
Ten minutes before half-time, Tom Portas looked destined to double the Blues’ lead with a fierce blockbuster of a shot which brought a magnificent reaction save from Black Cats keeper Tom Maddison.
Sunderland hit back before the interval when the lively Nathan Thomas won a fairly soft penalty, which he rolled adeptly into the bottom corner, despite Nick Liversedge guessing the right way.
But Whitby took a psychological boost into the break when an awful mix-up in defence presented Mulligan with a gift-wrapped chance which he was never going to miss.
The second half predictably saw a myriad of changes as triallists were given a chance to impress on a chilly night – but a burst of four goals in 13 minutes warmed the crowd’s hearts.
Sunderland levelled once more when Thomas showed a touch of class to work some space before bending a neat shot past the keeper with the outstep of his boot, on 59 minutes.
Mulligan then completed his treble with a 25-yard beauty and Dave McTiernan increased the Seasiders’ lead further with a close range header at the back post before Jonathan Burn reduced the arrears at 4-3.
The Blues held out and showed why being ranked as 50-1 outsiders for the EvoStik League Premier Division title this week, may be rather high odds. (see BetVictor column in this week’s Whitby Gazette).
On Saturday (21 July), Whitby entertain east coast rivals Scarborough Athletic, kick-off 3pm.
Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, White, Portas, McTiernan, Tait, Armstrong, Mulligan, Smith.
Whitby Town 4 Sunderland XI 3