Whitby boss left Curzon his luck

Former HUFC player and current Whitby Town manager Darren Williams. Picture by FRANK REID
Former HUFC player and current Whitby Town manager Darren Williams. Picture by FRANK REID

Whitby Town manager Darren Williams fumed after what he called an “overall unacceptable performance” at promotion-chasing Curzon Ashton on Monday.

The Seasiders were making their first-ever trip to the Tameside Stadium, near Oldham.

Williams made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Halesowen, on Saturday, with midfielder Niall Doran replacing Lee Mason, who was stuck at work, while Steven Snaith returned up front in place of Robert Nolan.

“We started well in the first 15 minutes, then conceded a poor goal maybe due to the referee’s lack of knowledge of Robbo’s head injury,” Williams told the Whitby Gazette.

“We let that affect us and lost our way.” he added.

Niall Doran had a couple of potshots wide, but it was the hosts who led on 17 minutes as a left-wing cross from overlapping full-back Darren Thornton was slid past Shane Bland by Niall Cummins, at the far post. Skipper Mark Robinson suffered a knock to the head in the build up, but play was allowed to continue.

Matthew Warburton had the ball in the net seconds later, only for a late offside flag to spare Whitby a second goal. However, it was soon 2-0 as Jordan Wright cut in off the right flank and hooked across Bland, beating the youngster high to his right.

Warburton was to have a say, 10 minutes before the break. The Curzon onslaught continued and he was on hand to go clear before slotting low past a helpless Bland.

The ex-Middlesbrough goalkeeper then saved bravely from a similar opportunity just prior to half-time.

Robinson did well to battle through to the interval before making way for Matthew Waters, who went out wide, with Liam Shepherd taking Robinson’s left back role.

The Seasiders came close three minutes into the restart as Waters drilled just wide from a 20-yard free-kick, after James Brown was upended following a lively run.

Around the hour mark, Dale Hopson fired high over the bar from 30 yards after a determined Ibby Hassan surge down the right. Hassan then fired narrowly wide of Hakan Burton’s near post after a similar long-busting effort.

Action then returned to the Whitby end and Bland reacted superbly to twice parry from the breaking Cummins.

The corner was then tipped over acrobatically as Warburton shot and that was followed by a beautiful block with his legs from debutant sub Ashley Stott as the hosts laid siege.

Warburton then suffered a broken fibula after landing badly when challenging Hassan. Physio Paul Scott went to help his opposite number from Curzon in assisting the stricken forward, with defensive duo Kev Burgess and Lee Bullock also praised by home players for their quick reactions in checking on Warburton. The other disappointment for the hosts on their manager John Flanagan’s birthday would be the sub-150 crowd, possibly influenced by Manchester United’s nearby FA Cup tie with Arsenal.

Late on, sixth-placed Curzon could have added to the tally, but Cummins could only pick out Bland’s left-hand post with a diagonal 25-yard shot.

“It was better second half” Williams admitted, “but it was too little too late.

“Overall, it was an unacceptable performance.”

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c) (Waters 46), Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan, Doran (Raby 88), Hopson (Nolan 75), Snaith, Brown, Shepherd. Subs not used: Williams, Campbell (GK).

Attendance: 126

Curzon Ashton 3 Whitby Town 0