Whitby kicked off 2017 with a hard-fought victory to go within two points of league leaders Rushall Olympic, on Bank Holiday Monday.
Town stay second but cut Rushall’s advantage after the West Midlands side saw their clash with Coalville postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Blues boss Chris Hardy made one forced change, from the team that started the Boxing Day win over Blyth Spartans, with centre-half Luke Bythway sidelined due to work commitments. Kieran Weledji returned to replace him after a six-game absence, while the week’s new signing Davey Carson (21) took Weledji’s place on the bench.
On a slightly bobbly pitch, the first half-hour was a forgettable affair, with only Matty Tymon’s late yellow-carded challenge through the back of Macaulay Parkinson, that had much of the nearby Frickley management on the pitch, catching the eye. The Seasiders showed first with two decent chances in as many minutes. First, Dale Hopson backheeled for Dave McTiernan to force keeper Sebastian Malkowski to tip over from close range. Soon after, Hopson’s free-kick was gathered low to his right by the Polish gloveman.
Fifth-bottom Frickley then fashioned twin opportunities of their own, just before half-time. Shane Bland raced off his goal line to save at Andre Johnson’s feet, on 43 minutes, then within seconds, Andrew May pulled up with a hamstring injury enabling skipper Rhys Meynell to set up Luke Mangham who powered a header wide. Unfortunately, May stayed down and with no other defenders amongst the Whitby substitutes, versatile forward Anthony Hume was called upon to fill in at the back.
Six minutes into the second half, Town were ahead. Dan McWilliams’ inswinging right-wing corner was flicked on at the near post, by McTiernan, for Tymon to turn home his second goal in as many games, point-blank. Five minutes later, Malkowski denied Hopson’s edge of the box effort, before the Blues’ 17-goal top scorer turned provider, pulling back from the byline for Tymon to scoop high over the crossbar. Curtly Martin-Wyatt, who replaced fellow forward Kuda Muskwe, just after Tymon’s opener, then found space on the right-edge of the penalty area, firing the ball across the face of goal for Weledji to stretch well and clear. At the other end, Hopson slid inches wide of Malkowski’s left-hand post from 10 yards, before Johnson again raced clear, only for Bland to parry well and preserve his side’s lead.
Johnson and Hume collided on the edge of the box with the hosts baying for a penalty, Tymon then fouled again near the touchline with things spilling over. However the Town frontman avoided a second booking as only Frickley boss Lee Morris saw red for dissent. Hardy cannily replaced his scorer with debutant Carson in the aftermath. On-loan Doncaster Rovers striker Joe Pugh took Johnson’s striker spot for the home side with Bland then holding Nathan Valentine’s strong-but-overly-close 25-yard shot. The golden gilt-edged chance arrived in the 90th minute when a loose ball was fired goalwards and landed invitingly for Parkinson to turn wide from eight yards. His final go was from the left-edge of the box, but Parkinson’s free-kick was comfortably held by the impressive Bland.
Hardy made a second change deep into five minutes’ added time as Mikey Roberts replaced Hopson, breaking quickly with his first run, one shot was blocked before Roberts pulled back for Adam Gell to hammer out of the ground from 12 yards.
Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Stohrer, Parkinson, Waters, Lawrence, Meynell (c), Mangham, Valentine, Johnson (Pugh 75), Muskwe (Martin-Wyatt 53), Williams (Rigby 88). Subs not used: Kay, Diggles (GK).
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, Weledji, Robinson, May (Hume 45), Gell, Tymon (Carson 71), Hopson (Roberts 90), Snaith, McTiernan. Subs not used: Fryatt, Dixon (GK).