Blues bounced back from Saturday’s FA Cup exit by defeating their conquerors with a 94th minute Dale Hopson winner take takes them third with games in hand on top-two Buxton and Blyth.
Blues manager Chris Hardy told Whitby-Town.com:
“As the game was coming into the final stages, I said to Bully [assistant Lee Bullock] ‘can we go and make a real point in this 90 minutes?’.
“The boys have left it till late and I think it warranted the performance we put in.
“I think it’s important that we take positives from Saturday, there wasn’t a lot between both sides, a game of two chances- they took theirs, we missed ours.
“The boys showed good character to keep probing and asking questions and got their just rewards.”
Hardy made two changes from Saturday’s team as the experienced Dave McTiernan came into midfield, with striker Mikey Roberts dropped and Dale Hopson pushed up front. The injured Dan McWilliams made way for Curtis Round, at left wing-back, for Round’s first competitive start for the Seasiders, since joining, in the summer, from Guisborough Town.
Like the weekend clash, it was a quiet opening. Matty Tymon headed over Callum Martin’s far-post right wing cross, on ten minutes. While Glen Taylor struck straight at Shane Bland, two minutes later, at the other end.
Midfield terrier Jamie Chandler saw a snapshot charged down and Taylor nodded a tame one that Bland claimed comfortably for Spennymoor, while McTiernan sliced well wide from another good Martin cross.
Ten minutes before half-time, Hopson brought a strong reaction save from Dan Lowson, at the near post, after cutting in off the right and McTiernan sent an ambitious 20-yarder and an injury time header well off target. In-between, the County Durham side’s Mark Anderson fired a central free-kick narrowly over the Whitby bar, from the edge of the D.
Spennymoor boss Jason Ainsley also made two changes from the Saturday cup tie, with ex-Blue Shane Henry in on the left wing and he came close, four minutes into the second half, turning just wide from 18 yards.
The game was showing signs of opening up and just before the hour mark, Tymon dummied McTiernan’s left-wing cross and Hopson should have done better than turning into Lowson’s body, from the edge of the box. Moments later, Martin’s cross from the opposite side was cleared from the six yard box, but the ball dropped nicely for Round, on the opposite side, who screwed high and wide.
The Blues kept up the onslaught and Hopson set off on a mazy run, beating two defenders and shovelling straight at Lowson, from 12 yards.
The impressive McTiernan, who looked far from rusty, despite making a first competitive start since April, played a lovely through ball for Tymon, on 75 minutes, who was denied, six yards out, by a brave block at his feet from the busy Lowson. In a rare break, substitute David Dowson almost caught out Bland from 25 yards with a powerful low effort that the young keeper did well to get behind.
With nine minutes remaining, Hardy threw on Roberts for McTiernan and the Blues peppered their old NPL and Northern League adversaries for the rest of the clash. Crosses were fended away desperately with the ball continually returned to the Spennymoor box. Referee Mr Dean, who was very lenient considering some feisty flashpoints involving Chandler, Adam Gell, Hopson and big centre-half James Curtis, indicated five minutes of injury time. Whitby pushed and pushed and four minutes in, Hopson picked up the ball, just in off the left flank, rushing infield, he beat player after player before arrowing a low shot between Lowson and his right-hand post from 12 yards. Cue wild celebrations which Ainsley appeared to object to but the Blues had good reason as they ended the night as the only unbeaten side in league action and more importantly moved up to third, with a chance of going top, this weekend, depending on other results.
The Seasiders now already have the same 18 points it took them to the turn of the calendar year, last season.
Spennymoor Town: Lowson, Griffiths, Mason (c), Gott, Tait (Swain 37), Curtis, Chandler, Henry, Taylor, Stephenson (Dowson 57), Anderson (Armstrong 78). Subs not used: Johnson, Fisher.
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, Round, Weledji, Bythway, May, Gell, McTiernan (Roberts 81), Hopson (Hume 90), Tymon, Snaith (c). Subs not used: Robinson, Park, Dowson (GK).