By Andrew Snaith
A week before the big kick off, these Yorkshire Coast rivals battled to a draw, with the visitors shading the second half and Whitby showing their one division advantage before the interval.
Manager Chris Hardy revealed before kick-off that Steven Snaith would be first team captain with Mark Robinson as vice. In the event, it was Robinson who took the armband as Snaith missed out with a ligament complaint that will be assessed before Saturday’s away opener.
After a lightning fast opening, it was the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Blues who led, inside three minutes. Dale Hopson intercepted well, releasing Callum Martin down the right, whose near-post ball was dummied by Matty Tymon, for Mikey Roberts to slot into the bottom-right corner from six yards.
Seconds later, another neat near-post Martin ball was turned over from similar range by Tymon. The same player then met Mark Robinson’s inswinging cross, also from the right, with a Rene Higuita style scorpion kick that keeper Jordan Porter held well. Tymon poked over again before big Benny Igiehon tested Shane Bland for the first time. The big number nine turned well and unleashed a powerful low drive that the young keeper parried before falling on the loose ball, with Liam Ormesby lurking. Bland was then tested by a left-wing Dave Merris corner that almost dropped in direct, he back-pedalled before pushing over the top, from right underneath his crossbar.
Ten minutes before half-time, Roberts almost struck his and Whitby’s second goal, lobbing the onrushing Porter only for Dean Lisles to head over his own bar. Scarborough then ended the half strongly with Bland tipping over substitute Jamie Forrester’s rising 18-yard effort and the resulting near-post corner hitting defender Kieran Weledji on the line before being cleared. At the other end, Porter was again beaten to a ball over the top, this time by Cameron Park, but the former Marske midfielder hooked over both the Scarborough keeper and the crossbar.
Late in the half, Chris Bolder twice came close for the away side- first, heading wide from the edge of the box, then sliding similarly off target from 20 yards.
Whitby started strongly after the break with Porter forced to parry full-length from Dan McWilliams’ angled effort, within three minutes of the restart.
A flurry of changes followed, with Curtis Round, introducing himself with a mazy run that almost took him through on goal, after coming on for Park at half-time. Lee Bullock got a good half hour under his belt in an unfamiliar holding midfield role, as his return to fitness continues, with Adam Gell making way.
Forrester sliced wide, following an impressive build up, while Roberts came close after a determined run, down the left, ended with him slamming a low effort into Porter’s near-post side netting. However, it was the First Division North visitors who levelled on 72 minutes. A beautiful defence-splitting ball released the lively David Brown who rounded Bland and squared for Callum Terrell to tap home.
The diminutive Brown had made a big impact since arriving early in the second half and he was the architect when Weledji’s brave block denied Forrester following Brown’s run down the right and far-post cross.
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, Weledji, Robinson (c), May, Gell (Bullock 63), Park (Round 46), Roberts (Hume 78), Tymon, Hopson. Subs not used: Dawson(GK), Anderson, Jewson.
Scarborough Athletic: Porter, Price, Merris, Bolder, Lisles, Reynolds, Stewart, Birch, Igiehon, Ormesby, Robinson. Subs: Brown, Lamplough, Bloor, Forrester, Bannister, Terrell.