WHITBY Town secured premier division survival on Tuesday night, writes Andrew Snaith.
The Seasiders will begin their 13th season in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier this August after a fine 4-2 win at Mickleover Sports.
Delighted manager Tommy Cassidy told the Whitby Gazette: “The win was so important but we played very well - that was the main thing.
“It was a good solid performance all round and we could’ve had more goals.
“They’ve had a great run and we were better.”
Cassidy made one change with defender Ashley Lyth absent due to his partner going into labour.
Young midfielder Sam Hodgson took his place as Andy Leeson covered at right-back.
Sports, based in Derby and playing their highest level of football this season, came close on six minutes when towering centre-half Marc Strzyzewski nodded over a left wing cross from close range.
At the other end, skipper Liam Walshe’s headed backpass was too short for Damian Clarke under pressure from Jimmy Beadle. Beadle nipped in ahead of the keeper but fired a rushed shot well wide.
Seconds later, Whitby’s Andy Campbell sliced similiarly off target, but the Blues didn’t have long to wait before breaking the deadlock.
A simple long ball saw Beadle appear to push the awkward bouncing ball past Walshe with his hand before slotting past Clarke for his 15th of the season, equalling last term’s haul.
However, there was no disputing Whitby’s second just seven minutes later. Chris Batchelor’s inswinging corner was nodded powerfully home by the unmarked Kev Burgess from 12 yards for the big centre-half’s third goal in four games.
At the other end, Burgess’ defensive partner Ibby Hassan poked the ball off his own goal-line and Karl Ashton failed to add to his tally of seven strikes in eight games, as he blasted over the crossbar.
Beadle nearly doubled his account for the night on 39 minutes, but the former York City midfielder’s ferocious 20-yard free-kick was well held by Clarke as he dived forward.
But last season’s Division One South Champions weren’t lying down. They laid siege for the final three minutes of the first half, with Alex Steadman unlucky to pick out Dave Campbell’s left-hand post with a powerful strike from distance.
Moments later, Campbell rolled back the years with a fabulous point-blank tip over from Ashton’s header and had to be alert again to save low down at his near post from Kieran O’Connell.
The game was effectively over four minutes after the restart, following a fine Whitby move.
Dave McTiernan did superbly to place his left-wing cross between two defenders, for Beadle to chest down and Andy Campbell to fire first-time into the top-right corner of the net, with his weaker right foot.
Keeper Campbell then touched wide a speculative Steadman effort that seemed to be curling away from the keeper’s left-hand post. But just as the good contingent of 30-40 Blues fans were starting to imagine victory, Sports scrambled a goal back.
Hassan again hooked off the line but straight to Mark Farthing who blasted past Campbell at the second attempt after a brave defensive block.
Ashton and O’Connell both came close with headers across the face of Town’s goal, but it was the Blues who netted for a fourth time, halfway through the second half.
Some neat one-touch play ended with Andy Campbell going to ground and winning a barely-disputed penalty. Captain Tony Hackworth stepped up and kept his 100% run from the spot this season, beating Clarke low to his left.
At the other end, Campbell acrobatically palmed substitute Dave Middleditch’s effort away from the top-right corner but was soon beaten for a second time with 15 minutes remaining.
A tremendous Steadman free-kick was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Whitby’s second-longest serving player, only for Smythe to react first in a crowded box and poke home from under the bar.
Beadle fired wide, before unluckily picking out Strzyzewski with a diving close range header. In the last minute, Hackworth saw his angled drive blocked and blasted the rebound high over the top.
Mickleover, who only secured their own Premier Division status at the weekend, threatened right at the death, but brave defending from Burgess and Alex White saw efforts from distance blocked and a great away victory was ensured soon after.
Whitby Town: D Campbell, Leeson, White, Hassan, Burgess, Hodgson, McTiernan (Cornforth 52), Hackworth (c), A Campbell (Davis 83), Beadle, Batchelor. Subs not used: Courtney(GK), Scott, Lambert. Attendance: 184
Mickleover Sports 2 Whitby Town 4