Roberts penalty earns Blues a draw

Whitby Town drew 1-1 with Frickley Athletic at the Turnbull Ground. Picture: Brian Murfield
Whitby Town drew 1-1 with Frickley Athletic at the Turnbull Ground. Picture: Brian Murfield

Whitby Town gained their first point under new boss Chris Hardy when they drew 1-1 with Yorkshire rivals Frickley, on Monday.

The Blues recovered from going behind early on to pull level through Mikey Roberts’ 14th strike of the season, but despite dominating the play in the second half, they could not find a winner.

Whitby celebrate after Mikey Roberts, left, grabbed an equaliser

Whitby celebrate after Mikey Roberts, left, grabbed an equaliser

“I was relatively pleased with the performance, I thought it was an improvement on the last time out,” Hardy told the Whitby Gazette.

“We seemed to have decent possession in the game and more cutting edge about our play.

“We were maybe a little unlucky not to get all three points.”

In-form Frickley produced a strong first-half showing, and just 10 minutes were gone when a neat ball into the home box saw Grant Ryan presented with a free downward header, but his effort from six yards was comfortably held by Town keeper Shane Bland.

Blues keeper Shane Bland claims the ball under pressure from a Frickley man

Blues keeper Shane Bland claims the ball under pressure from a Frickley man

However, Ryan made up for his error, in style, just seconds later. The big forward crossed beautifully from the left for Jacob Hazell to control then fire between Bland’s legs for 1-0.

Adam Gell, back in the side after suspension, then fired a tame low effort straight at Bland’s opposite number, Sebastian Malkowski, on 18 minutes.

Hardy’s boys were enjoying plenty of possession but struggled to test Malkowski, a former Polish international, until finally, some good fortune saw the Seasiders level in the final minute of the half.

A right-wing near-post ball was controlled by Dave McTiernan, who then appeared to be tripped.

Tempers flare at the Turnbull Ground

Tempers flare at the Turnbull Ground

Play continued, but the nearby linesman flagged frantically, with a long delay as the officials consulted, surrounded by Frickley players before eventually awarding Whitby a penalty.

Roberts was the man who placed the ball on the spot and stood hands on hips, awaiting the referee’s whistle, before trotting up and slipping the ball calmly to the keeper’s left as he fell the wrong way.

Despite the goal being logged as arriving in the 45th minute, Frickley and Hazel had not one, but two chances, before the break, to regain the lead.

First, indecision at the back saw Hazell go one-on-one with Bland, who blocked terrifically with his legs, then, Tyler Williams found acres of the space on the left of the box, and teed up Hazell, whose shot on the turn was brilliantly saved by the sprawling Whitby stopper.

Man of the match Dale Hopson

Man of the match Dale Hopson

Whitby started the second half strongly, as they did the first, with Roberts providing a threat with his running into the channels.

From one such play, the ex-Spennymoor striker expertly lobbed Malkowski, only for an offside flag to curtail Town celebrations.

At the other end, lively left winger Williams got to the byline and cut back for Ross Armstrong to clip onto the roof of the net, from just inside the Whitby penalty area.

Roberts then looked to have finally got through a stubborn Frickley rearguard, led by towering skipper Jameel Ible, on 75 minutes.

He raced clear on the right-edge of the box, only to slip for a split second and as the yellow hordes hurried back, and they did just enough to force the hard-working frontman to slice wide.

With four minutes left, Lee Mason replaced Waters on the right of Town’s midfield three, before assistant boss Lee Bullock nodded straight at Malkowski.

Soon after, Roberts found himself in two minds as he drilled an angled cross turned shot across goal and wide from the right-edge of the box.

Despite Whitby seeing plenty of the ball and creating some decent openings, the game was becoming an increasingly more open affair and Frickley substitute Steven Jeff’s powerful 25-yard skidder was well held by Bland.

Luke Hinsley then thundered a diagonal shot wide from the right edge of the box, but both sides had to settle for a point as time ran out on their hopes of grabbing a winner.

Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, Robinson (c) (Shepherd 89), Bullock, Weledji, McTiernan, Gell, Waters (Mason 86), Roberts, Hopson, Brobbel. Subs not used: Pell, R Gardner, Dixon (GK).

Man of the match: Dale Hopson.

Attendance: 311.