Robbo nets winner in Blues’ final game

A strong challenge as Whitby win their final game of 2012-13 at Stafford'picture: Neil Thaler
A strong challenge as Whitby win their final game of 2012-13 at Stafford'picture: Neil Thaler

Blues skipper Mark Robinson waited for his 100th appearance on the final day to notch his first goal of the season and seal a sixth league double for the Seasiders.

Robinson’s second-half penalty helped Town sign off with a 1-0 victory, at former Conference club Stafford Rangers, on Saturday, cementing a 13th-placed finish and securing their highest points haul for six years.

Skipper Mark Robinson's head 'disappears' behind the ball as he takes a throw'picture: Neil Thaler

Skipper Mark Robinson's head 'disappears' behind the ball as he takes a throw'picture: Neil Thaler

Player-boss Darren Williams also believes, if not for six defeats on the spin, at the beginning of the season, things could have been much better.

“When you get off to the start we got off to, you’re always starting behind,” he said.

“It was a massive task for us, but we managed to overcome it, put in some good performances and put together a good run of results, which got us roughly mid-table.”

Williams made five changes from the side that started the 2-2 draw at Ashton.

Goalscorers Shane Henry and Dave McTiernan were unavailable, as were Graeme Armstrong and Glen Lane.

Struggling centre-halves Kev Burgess (hamstring) and Alex White (chest infection), were confined to the bench.

“We were kind-of down to the bare bones,” Williams conceded, admitting the changes were a mixture of necessity and experimentation.

“Towards the end of the season, it’s about getting people games and looking to plan for next season,” he added.

Steven Snaith scuffed tamely into Adam Alcock’s hands in the opening three minutes, before Stafford’s Danny Quinn curled across goal and narrowly wide of Nick Liversedge’s left-hand post.

Michael Carr came close for the home side and Chris Flynn struck the post. Congolese winger Fabrice Kasiama then fired into the side netting, after cutting in from the left flank, a minute before half-time.

“It was never going to be a pretty game, but that’s how they want to play and what they do and that disrupts our game. What we’ve got to do is make sure we work hard, we battle and compete,” Williams stated. That was his side’s mantra as they continued to find themselves on the back foot.

Seven minutes into the second half, their West Midlands hosts should certainly have led, following an error from the manager himself.

Quinn looked to be fortunate to beat the Blues offside trap, after Jon Sheldon had dispossessed Williams in the centre circle and put the forward through.

However, despite having several seconds to pick his spot, Quinn sliced horribly wide when one-on-one with Liversedge. Sheldon almost succeeded after taking matters into his own hands, moments later, but he fired wide, on the turn, from 12 yards.

“The pitch was horrendous, to try and play football, I think your top teams would struggle. It was very bobbly and sparse of grass,” Williams complained.

However, his team fought on and had shouts for a penalty turned down when Luke George flattened Snaith, as he headed clear Craig James’ deep free-kick.

Eighteen-year-old Nathan Evans then threatened for the visitors, after a determined run took him to the fringes of the box, only to see his unconvincing, low shot, deflected for a corner.

Nathan Mulligan’s set-piece was swung over, from the right, but the referee’s whistle soon halted play.

After a few seconds’ pause, there were cheers from the noisy travelling support, as they realised Mr Husband had awarded a spot-kick.

Replays suggest a body-check on Arjun Purewal was the offence spotted, there were few Whitby appeals and even Williams wasn’t convinced.

“I didn’t have a very good view of it”, he admitted. “I was aggrieved about the one just before it. I thought that was more blatant than the one we got. I thought the defender made a lot of contact in the back of Steve Snaith.”

Town had a chance to grab the lead and they did just that, when 31-year-old captain Robinson, ever-present last season, fired calmly into the bottom-right corner.

Stafford quickly forced Liversedge into action, with two fine stops in as many minutes.

The tall keeper first touching over a deft lob, then repeating the feat to keep out George’s header.

In the aftermath of Robinson’s goal, Williams substituted himself, for Callum Wilson - nephew of ex-Blues skipper Matty Appleby - to make his first appearance since August. However, it was an unhappy return as the teenager suffered a broken wrist, after a strong challenge from Sheldon.

White replaced him in midfield, to also bring up 100 appearances, with six minutes left. By then, though, Rangers’ hopes of a comeback had nosedived as defender Jimmy Turner received a second yellow card, for obstructing Snaith, as he chased a through-ball, near the left-edge of the home penalty area.

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson, James, Evans, Purewal, Williams (Wilson 63, White 84), Portas, Snaith, Farrell, Mulligan. Subs not used: Burgess, Campbell (GK). Attendance: 400

Stafford Rangers 0 Whitby Town 1