BLUES’ manager Tommy Cassidy left the club after what he called an “embarrassing” FA Trophy exit at the hands of Woodley Sports, from the league below, on Saturday, writes Andrew Snaith.
Cassidy watched his side’s first half capitulation from the main stand, after picking up a touchline ban, last month.
He made three changes with Callum Hassan returning to Hartlepool United and FA red tape stopping work-experience team-mate Lewis Hawkins from turning out.
Meanwhile, midfielder Dave McTiernan was unavailable for family reasons and goalkeeper Tom Courtney was dropped for the experienced Dave Campbell, who emerged as Whitby’s overwhelming man of the match. Striker Matt Dunford, signed last month from Ryton, made his first-ever start, with Andy Leeson recalled at right-back.
It took the hosts, fifth in the Evo-Stik First Division North, just five minutes to strike on their lively artifical pitch.
Darren Stephenson caught Leeson out of position down the Whitby right, fending off Ibby Hassan on the left edge of the penalty area, before sidefooting across Campbell and inside the far post.
Two minutes later, and only a strong Campbell parry, low to his right, denied Stephenson and Woodley a second goal.
As the Cheshire side dominated, a neat one-two culminated in former Bury striker Jordan Stepian forcing another good low stop from Campbell on 11 minutes. The 41-year-old gloveman was then relieved soon after when Stephenson missed a great chance to strike again, instead directing a free header, from Stepian’s left-wing corner, straight into Campbell’s hands from close range.
Midfielder Jack Dorney drilled an awkward effort goalwards from 25 yards that Campbell did well to smother at the second attempt, before Town’s first real shot on goal arrived after 18 minutes. Callum Martin sent over an inviting corner from the left, only for Dunford to nod wide when well placed.
To add salt to the wounds, Town were punished seconds later when Maylett’s through ball found Dorney who tricked his way through the Whitby defence single-handedly before slotting past a helpless Campbell for 2-0.
It seemed less a question of a Whitby revival, more a matter of how many the Stockport outfit could rack up on their alien surface, with the visitors giving no clue that they train on similiar pitches, twice a week.
As the onslaught continued, Campbell blocked at the near post from former Celtic star John Marsden and Stepien powered the 20-yard rebound narrowly over the Whitby bar. The same player was then unlucky to be denied by an acrobatic full-length save, high to his right, by the Seasiders’ second-highest appearance maker.
Stephenson directed another weak header past the near post as Stepien turned provider with a cross from the left, before a rare opportunity for the visitors. Dunford pressured Woodley’s backline just outside their 18-yard box, muscling his way through and bringing Liam Higginbotham into the game for the first time, with an angled drive the home keeper claimed low to his right.
However, it wasn’t long before the ball returned to the Whitby end and when it did, Maylett had just Kev Burgess to beat after escaping unmarked down the right. The winger cut along the byline, beating Town’s number five before squaring to Marsden, who showed ample composure to take two touches and stroke past Campbell from six yards.
Cassidy admitted he didn’t know what to say to his players as he made his way to the dressing room at half-time and knew then what his post-match declaration was going to be.
Two minutes after the restart, Burgess was booked for remonstrating with referee Brian McGill, who mystified a few with his decision-making- in particular, his relaxed approach to moving free-kicks, even after delivering the ball to Woodley’s keeper by hand.
Martin then came close to finding the scoresheet after running onto his own short corner and blasting a low drive that was deflected onto Higginbotham’s right-hand post, via one of his own defenders.
Seconds later, Woodley nearly struck on the break but Campbell pushed away Stepien’s angled effort, after he cut in from the left and blasted goalwards from 20 yards. Campbell then gathered, at the second attempt, from the same player drilling in a low effort, this time.
Jake Faichney replaced fellow youngster Martin as the visitors went for three strikers, but the only forward play remained at the Whitby end where Campbell brilliantly threw himself low and at full-stretch right, to keep out Dorney’s goalbound 30-yard piledriver.
Stephenson could’ve easily had a hat-trick inside 65 minutes, only to spurn another glorious chance, after meeting a horrendous blind backpass from Hassan, but poking wide when one-on-one with Campbell.
Hassan made way for Tom Marron three minutes later and Town finally found the net through Marron’s fellow substitute Faichney.
The 22-year-old got in front of Higginbotham with his back to goal and headed Mark Robinson’s cross over the keeper’s head, for his fifth goal of the season.
Rob McDermid joined Faichney and Matty Tymon in attack, as Dunford made way, three minutes from time. Town fans might’ve hoped one of the young subs were on the end of Marron’s deep right-wing ball, instead of Tymon, who ghosted in at the far post but miscontrolled, allowing the ball to bobble off his knee and Higginbotham to collect.
It summed up the day for the Seasiders who were once-more indebted to Campbell who saved again after a sweet turn from Stephenson left Town’s defence flatfooted for the umpteenth time. The veteran keeper finally ensured it would, at least, only be three, as he clung onto Dorney’s well-struck 20-yard free-kick, a minute from time.
With £2,200 down the drain and the possibility of a free weekend on second qualifying round day, a week on Saturday, Cassidy sought out chairman Graham Manser after the match and like the Northern Irishman’s managerial reign, the rest is history.
Whitby Town: D Campbell, Leeson, White, Hassan (Marron 68), Burgess, Hodgson, Martin (Faichney 55), Williams, Dunford (McDermid 79), Tymon, Robinson (c). Sub not used: Courtney (GK). Attendance: 63
Woodley Sports 3 Whitby Town 1