The Blues dramatically battled back from 2-0 down, after eleven minutes, to knock out fellow Evo-Stik NPL Premier side Workington, in a seven-goal FA Trophy thriller, at the Turnbull Ground, on Saturday.
The victory prolongs the Seasiders’ unbeaten home run, which has been in place since the 7-1 thumping by Darlington, in April and earns the Blues £2,700, as well as a place in the second qualifying round of the competition, at Evo-Stik First Division South leaders Shaw Lane, on Saturday 12 November.
Town manager Chris Hardy made one change from the side that beat Barwell 2-1, in Leicestershire, last weekend. Dale Hopson returned from a one-match suspension to replace Adam Gell in midfield, while Mikey Roberts passed a late fitness test to continue up front.
Despite the in-form Roberts keeping his place, it was the visitors who struck first, inside 76 seconds. Big number nine Nathan Waterston, scorer in the league clash between the sides, earlier this month, broke the deadlock with the Reds’ fastest-ever FA Trophy goal. The tall marksman’s stooping near-post header, from Elliot Newby’s pinpoint left-wing cross, was well-taken following a bright start from the visitors. At the other end, Hopson clipped narrowly wide of Arran Taylor’s right-hand post, from the edge of the box, before the away side doubled their advantage, on 11 minutes. Another near-post cross, this time a right-wing corner, was forced home at the second attempt, point-blank, by James Earl, who initially nodded against the crossbar.
Crucially, however, Whitby replied quickly. On 19 minutes, Dave McTiernan crossed from the left, off balance, and Roberts volleyed, low from eight yards past a helpless Taylor. Almost from the restart, Scott Allison’s lively shot on the turn was parried full-stretch to his right by Shane Bland, then seconds later, Dave Symington’s awkward drive from distance bounced off Bland’s midrift and away.
Whitby countered with the impressive Kieran Weledji battling his way down the right flank, managing to pull the ball back while on the ground, for Roberts to hammer over from close range. McWilliams’ free-kick was then flicked goalwards by Hopson, forcing the backpedalling Taylor to touch over. The Seasiders finally levelled, a minute before half-time, as Hopson cut back from the right for former Workington striker Matty Tymon to steer into the bottom-left corner, first time.
Town then turned the match on its head, five minutes into the second half. McWilliams laid across the edge of the box, from the left, for Roberts’ deflected shot to lob Taylor and find the net. It took barely seven minutes for the Cumbrians to level as Earl once again nodded home, at the near post from yet another left-wing corner.
Dave McTiernan hooked wide, one-on-one, from the right edge of the box, before Hardy introduced on-loan Hartlepool youngster Jack Blackford, for a debut, in place of Roberts, up front. Within four minutes, the 18-year-old’s left wing run was halted at the near post only by a Taylor parry. For Workington, Allison turned narrowly wide then Wilson had the ball in the Whitby net, only for it to be chalked off for a foul in the build up.
The Blues then found a decisive fourth, nine minutes from time. McWilliams’ inswinging right-wing corner was headed back across goal by Steven Snaith for Weledji to nod into the roof of the net, point blank. Tymon then came close with a 20 yard lob and the lively Blackford was denied by Taylor’s right leg after a superb edge-of-the box turn.
Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Kieran Weledji
Match Sponsor: The Magpie Cafe, Whitby
Matchball Sponsor: Press and Fab, Stockton
Mascot, sponsored by Yorkshire Coast Radio: Maya Gildroy (10)
Whitby Town: Bland, Weledji, McWilliams, May, Bythway, Robinson, Snaith (c), McTiernan, Roberts (Blackford 71), Tymon, Hopson. Subs not used: Gell, Martin, Bullock, Dixon (GK).
Workington: Taylor (c), Simpson, Symington, Calvert (Henderson 77), Douglas, Earl (Rowntree 84), Allison, Wilson, Waterston, Newby, Tinnion. Subs not used: Hebson, Bethwaite, Fowler.