Williams on lost lead: “It has to stop now”

Whitby Town's Lee Mason
Whitby Town's Lee Mason
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After throwing away five leads this season, Whitby Town went one worse on Saturday and actually lost after conceding deep into injury time.

The Blues were 2-0 up at half-time and led 3-1 early in the second half, at Nantwich, at the weekend, before a late capitulation.

Furious player-manager Darren Williams said there was no excuse for throwing away more points from a winning position.

“It has to stop now. We lost our discipline, we got lazy and we didn’t get behind the ball enough.”, Williams fumed.

“You see one team in the first half and another in the second and that’s not good enough. You can’t have a 45-minute team. It’s about being professional and seeing things out.”

The Seasiders had roared into an early lead through a Lee Mason screamer and Graeme Armstrong’s strike. And even after Steve Foster pulled one back just after the break, Armstrong’s second looked to have left the Blues in an unassailable position, but it wasn’t to be.

Williams made one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Grantham Town, last weekend, as Kev Burgess missed out with an ankle injury and Nathan Mulligan came in.

It was a sign of attacking intent with three strikers and Whitby came close on three minutes but Armstrong’s shot on the turn lacked power and was comfortably collected by keeper Jack Cudworth. At the other end, Ben Deegan fired straight at Shane Bland, after marker Ibby Hassan went missing.

The Blues almost had a piece of luck on eight minutes as two defenders got in each others way and Mason crossed for Steven Snaith, who headed over from point-blank range. Harry Clayton could only pick out Bland from distance, before Mason broke the deadlock in style, on 17 minutes. The former Blyth midfielder slammed a 20-yard piledriver into the roof of the net from fully 20 yards, giving Cudworth no chance. Within ten minutes, it was 2-0 as Dave McTiernan released Snaith superbly down the right. The former Hartlepool United marksman galloped down the wing and squared for Armstrong to slot home from 12 yards.

Shane Henry lobbed narrowly over from 30 yards, before the Dabbers stretched Bland for the first time, five minutes before the interval. Deegan’s powerful angled drive, on the break, brought a smart tip-over from the ex-Middlesbrough teenager.

“We were in so much control at half-time.”, Williams reflected. “But in the second half, we didn’t do what we’d done in the first.”

Within nine minutes of the restart, Nantwich had a goal back. Oliver Devenney’s corner caused chaos in the Blues’ box, with Adam Jones knocking down for the evergreen Foster to turn and tuck past Bland, from six yards.But some more great football from the Seasiders looked to have made the game safe with 25 minutes remaining. McTiernan’s mazy run ended with a lay-off for Armstrong and a powerful angled drive across Cudworth from the right-edge of the box and inside the gloveman’s far post.

Crucially, the men in green hit straight back within two minutes as Hassan tripped substitute Max Harrop. The highly-rated winger entered the fray early in the second half and stepped up to beat Bland with a curling 20-yard free-kick. Suddenly the hosts believed, though Whitby remained dangerous, with Cudworth just about holding onto Armstrong’s ferocious first-time 20-yard effort, at the second attempt. Lee Bullock then headed wide and Bland produced a phenomenal point-blank stop to deny Foster when the home crowd were already celebrating.

Williams introduced former Cork City star Adam Rundle, for Mulligan, with ten minutes left. There was also a heated exchange as Hassan slid in on Harrop, who grabbed the Blues full-back, with big Richard Pell trying to calm things down. Nantwich fans claim Hassan then struck Harrop with his head, but Williams insisted the home side were the aggressors.

“I think the number nine [Deegan] should’ve been sent-off for clocking Snaith on the chin”, he said. “It was initially Pelly and the number 14 [Harrop] but I don’t think either player threw a punch or headbutt.”

Henry came agonisingly close to adding a fourth when he rattled the crossbar, for the second match in a row, with a 25-yard shot from out of the blue.

Within moments came the home equaliser as Clayton beat Bland following another almighty scramble.

“We don’t get them at the other end”, said Williams. “Our goals are never scrambled. We find it extremely difficult to clear our lines at times.”

Bullock then headed down from Mason’s corner and Williams, who admitted he’d have been disappointed with a draw, threw on striker Chris Dickinson for Snaith, deep into injury time. But the final action came at the other end as Harrop’s left-wing corner was headed down at the back post by Deegan and the ball bounced into the roof of the net via Bland’s outstretched glove.

Nantwich Town: Cudworth, Wilson, White, Devenney, Frost (c), Jones, Clayton (O’Neill 90), Davidson, Deegan, Foster, Abadaki (Harrop 50). Subs not used: Davis, Eastwood, Hood.

Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Bullock, Pell, McTiernan, Henry, Mason, Armstrong, Mulligan (Rundle 80), Snaith (Dickinson 90). Subs not used: Williams, Portas, Campbell (GK).

Attendance: 159

Nantwich Town 4 Whitby Town 3