WHITBY Town have history to battle as well as the Gladiators when they visit promotion-chasing Matlock Town on Saturday (26 Mar), writes Andrew Snaith.
The Blues have never won in nine trips to the Derbyshire dales outfit, losing their last six outings, including a two-legged league cup final and a nine-goal thriller in the same competition.
Mark Atkins’ men beat the Blues 2-1 at the Turnbull just over a fortnight ago but are now outside the play-off positions after four successive defeats since.
The former Blackburn Rovers midfielder, who picked up February’s manager of the month award, added beanpole striker John McAliskey from Northwich Victoria recently and is expected to have prolific marksman Ross Hannah back from injury.
Hannah has netted an astonishing 45 goals in all competitions this season and notched the winner in the 2-1 victory when the sides first met.
Atkins’ opposite number Tommy Cassidy, in contrast, could be woefully short of firepower with Andy Campbell again missing and makeshift frontman Tony Hackworth also doubtful.
Hackworth picked up a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s 1-0 reverse to FC United of Manchester, with midfielder Joe Cornforth also suffering an injury, to his neck.
Physio Kenny Bolton revealed Campbell suffered a recurrence of his groin strain when jogging this week and is targeting Wednesday’s home game with fellow strugglers Hucknall Town for a return.
Ash Davis should be 100% fit for the trip, after playing through a groin injury against United.
Namesake defender Ash Lyth is available again following a one-match ban after a red card against Matlock in the first clash.
Saturday’s game kicks off two hours earlier than usual at 1pm, due to England’s 3pm start against Wales.
This means a pre-8am start for some players and supporters, something that doesn’t sit well with the Whitby manager as the Seasiders battle for every point.
Cassidy said: “I’m not happy about that, but apparently, we can’t do anything about it.
“It’s all about getting points on the board by hook or by crook but at the moment, I can’t fault the players at all.”
Admission at the Reynolds Stadium is adults £8, seniors and juniors £5, children (under 15s) £2, with a paying adult.
There is a dominoes drive at the club house tonight at 8pm.