Northern League First Division West Auckland forced an FA Cup replay with 15 minutes left, as Town’s search for a home win continues.
Blues player-boss Darren Williams stuck with the starting XI that saw off Trafford 3-0 in midweek and it was one of the scorers in Greater Manchester that broke the deadlock, inside three minutes.
Graeme Armstrong held off his marker on the right edge of the Auckland box, then squared for Shane Henry to run on and sidefoot around Dale Connor, squeezing the ball between the keeper and his right-hand post.
Within two minutes, however, West should’ve levelled when John Campbell escaped down the left and rounded the onrushing Mark Cook, but a combination of Richard Pell and skipper Mark Robinson managed to fend the resulting drilled shot, off the Whitby goal-line. Robinson collided hard with the far post in the process, though the 32-year-old managed to pick himself up and continue without requiring treatment.
Adam Rundle, a former West Auckland player in the Whitby ranks, then fired straight at Connor, while the visitors were on their feet and screaming for a free-kick when Campbell went down as Pell slid in. With just Cook between Campbell and the Blues net, there was considerable relief for the Seasiders as referee Stephen Wade waved play on.
Around the half hour, Rundle drilled goalwards with Connor falling on the ball as Craig Farrell followed up, while at the other end, Callum Patton’s mazy run ended with the ex-Gateshead youngster firing narrowly wide.
Despite considerable pressure from the away side, who remain unbeaten two levels below the Blues, Whitby could have doubled their lead on the hour. Rundle raced down the left, rounded Connor, but rushed his shot and the towering figure of defender Daryll Hall got back to hack clear.
Soon after, Henry’s low angled drive from the opposite flank was comfortably smothered by Connor.
The tricky Luke Carr then headedover from close range for Auckland and only a brilliant reaction save from Cook kept out Patton’s deflected snapshot, moments later.
Williams introduced Lee Mason, a recent signing from Blyth Spartans for Henry, on the Whitby right, with Tom Portas, still not 100% after a hamstring problem, replacing veteran Lee Bullock in midfield, soon after. West manager Peter Dixon responded by sending on the prolific Matty Moffatt for Patton.
However, it was Moffatt’s strike partner who delighted the travelling fans on 75 minutes. Campbell ran from deep and this time there was no stopping the 24-year-old frontman, who slotted past Cook one-on-one.
Both sides had chances to win it late on, with Carr hurdling a rash slide challenge inside the Whitby box and playing in Campbell, who hooked over a great opportunity from point-blank range.
Armstrong, who required a Terry-Butcher-style head bandage after an aerial challenge, then scuffed straight at Connor, with three minutes remaining. The final throw of the dice came in the final minute as Pell’s effort on the turn fell invitingly for Farrell, who could only manage a tame effort from 12 yards, comfortably clutched by Connor.
Whitby Town: Cook, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Pell, McTiernan, Henry (Mason 67), Bullock (Portas 69), Armstrong, Farrell, Rundle.
Subs not used: Williams, Bland(GK), Snaith, Mulligan.
Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Kevin Burgess.
Whitby Town 1 West Auckland 1