Whitby Town look to leapfrog play-off rivals

Dave McTiernan (left) congratulates Graeme Armstrong
Dave McTiernan (left) congratulates Graeme Armstrong

Whitby Town battle fifth-placed King’s Lynn at the Turnbull Ground on Saturday (Feb 1), looking to leapfrog the Norfolk side and re-enter the play-off places.

The Blues are just a point behind the Linnets in seventh and have unfinished business after a 3-0 defeat at their Walks Stadium back in October.

The Seasiders had Ibby Hassan sent-off inside 26 minutes after Andy Hall went down theatrically in the Blues box. Some justice was done when keeper Shane Bland saved the penalty, but two goals before half-time, from Dan Jacob and a ferocious Hall effort, plus a late Dan Quigley effort, put the result beyond doubt.

Averaging over 600, only FC United of Manchester and Chorley attract higher gates than the Anglian outfit in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier. This will be their first visit to the Turnbull since reforming as King’s Lynn Town, following King’s Lynn FC’s liquidation in 2009.

After resting Steven Snaith and Lee Mason for last Saturday’s victory at Stocksbridge, Blues player-manager Darren Williams has a bit of a selection headache with both newcomers Nathan Mulligan and Craig Farrell featuring prominently in a convincing victory. The former Sunderland star refused to rule out further changes for tomorrow’s clash.

“It’s something we’ll do between now and the end of the season,” he said.

“I may change it again to freshen it up. I’m not saying we’re going to do it every week, but when and where,” he added.

“The lads have played a lot of games over Christmas and the pitches are heavy at this time of year. We need to tread carefully.”

Lynn scored three times in the last four minutes after falling behind at home to Ilkeston last week to claim a 3-1 victory.

It keeps Gary Setchell’s side in fifth spot following five wins from their last six outings.

Setchell declared recent acquisition David Bell as his ‘his best signing ever’.

Midfielder Bell (30) transferred from Norwich to Coventry City in 2009 for a fee believed to be in the region of £500,000. He was released from League One Notts County by mutual consent, last week.

Not that Williams is too concerned: “I’m not particularly bothered about other teams.” he said.

“We’ll sit down and chat about their strengths and weaknesses of course, but it’s all about us and how we perform.”

It’s the start of a huge month for the Blues who’ll again be without centre-half Kev Burgess. Play-off rivals Rushall Olympic visit the Turnbull on Saturday 15 February and theirs a first-ever trip to leaders Skelmersdale United a week later. Whitby drew 0-0 and 2-2 with both clubs respectively- Town have drawn 13 league matches, this season- more than anyone else in the NPL Premier.

Admission at the Turnbull Ground tomorrow is £9 adults, £5 concessions and £2 under 18s. Under 16s, when accompanied by an adult, get in completely free.

Kick-off is the usual 3pm.

There is a general knowledge quiz at the Whitby Town Clubhouse next Wednesday from 8.30pm. It’s £2 each to enter up to a maximum of five players per team, all welcome.