Steven Snaith’s last-gasp goal was the perfect Christmas present for Blues fans as Whitby Town ended their six-match winless run, last Saturday.
“What pleases me is that we never gave up,” Blues player-manager Darren Williams told the Whitby Gazette.
“Our defensive play was fantastic, our build-up play was fantastic, but our finishing touch was just not happening until Steve pulled out that fantastic finish.
“He’s made a great turn and, using his striker’s instinct, he’s managed to lob the keeper – I think we thoroughly deserved the three points.”
Williams made two changes from the side that lost 4-0 at Skelmersdale, a week earlier.
Lewis Clarkson has returned to Bradford City alongside fellow loanee James King, while defender Ibby Hassan was out of the country, so Snaith returned from a one-match suspension and midfielder Lee Mason shrugged off his groin injury to start.
Town began brightly and inside five minutes Matty Brown’s speedy break down the left saw the ball chipped back for James Brown to nod against the crossbar.
Soon after, Snaith held off Brian Smikle and cut in off the left flank before drilling diagonally inches wide of Dean Coleman’s left-hand post from the edge of the area.
The Blues continued to dominate, and midway through the half, Mason and Liam Shepherd combined down the right to fire across the face of goal. Coleman was forced to parry Snaith’s resulting close-range drive and top-scorer Dave McTiernan could only slide the loose ball into the side-netting at the far post.
For Stourbridge, George Bowerman’s shot was blocked by Kev Burgess and near to half-time, Shane Bland got down well to tip wide from Will Richards.
The Seasiders were dealt a blow late in the first half when Mason suffered a recurrence of his knock and had to be replaced by the similarly tricky Niall Doran.
The second period opened with considerable away pressure. A big side, the West Midlands outfit won a succession of corners with Town defenders taking it in turns to charge down repeated efforts, before skipper Mark Robinson cleared off his own goalline.
Bland smothered Bowerman’s shot on the turn before Matty Brown hooked wide at the second attempt after running onto a loose ball from 18 yards.
Snaith should then have broken the deadlock with 25 minutes remaining.
Dale Hopson’s free-kick from the left touchline was flicked on by Richard Pell, only for the ex-Hartlepool striker to turn wide from six yards.
The battling 20-year-old, who had a physical contest with marker Kristian Ramsey-Dixon all afternoon, then forced Coleman to tip wide, low to his right, at full stretch, on 71 minutes.
Williams replaced winger Matty Brown with former Middlesbrough marksman Matty Waters for the last ten minutes, but it looked a nailed on draw before Snaith’s late intervention. Right at the end of three minutes injury time, Town’s number 10, faced by three defenders, cut in from the left before curling right-footed, over Coleman, from 20 yards and into the roof of the net.
Cue wild celebrations, with Snaith leading the charge towards the noisy shed stand, joined by all 10 team-mates, including keeper Bland and most of the nearby Blues bench. There was just time for the visitors, who collapsed to their knees in despair, to take their centre, before the final whistle blew.
However, despite the lateness of Town’s winning goal, Williams thought his side were good value for their victory.
“It’s something that we owed ourselves and something that we owed the fans, after previous results,” he said.
“We went through the pros and cons of how we’ve been over the last few months, my words were ‘go out there and give your all’, then at least we know we’ve given a good account of ourselves.
“When they got in from their warm up, I said ‘you’ve got to treat this as your cup final or the last game you’re going to play.’
“I think they did that and controlled the majority of the match.”
Whitby Town 1 Stourbridge 0