Dale Hopson’s third goal in as many games again helped the Blues to victory, this time at last season’s First Division North champions Warrington Town, on Tuesday night.
Whitby boss Chris Hardy picked an unchanged side from Saturday’s victory over Corby Town and roared on by a full supporters’ coach and other travelling fans, the visitors made a bright start.
On five minutes, Matty Tymon sent a rising 25-yard effort over the crossbar. Moments later, Mikey Roberts tried an early right-edge-of-the-box effort that skipped up in front of Karl Wills, who did well to clutch at his near post.
The away side were showing more signs of their neat interplay that has characterised the early season. On 15 minutes, a neat Tymon backheel set up Hopson, who poked a good opportunity wide, from 18 yards.
At the other end, Scott Metcalfe curled a free-kick straight at Shane Bland, while the half hour saw prolific Warrington skipper Ciaran Kilheeney head wide, at the far post, from Ryan Winder’s right-wing free-kick. Metcalfe hammered substitute Scott Harries’ similar ball high over the bar, late in the half.
A quiet start to the second period was punctuated by the game’s opening goal. More deft build-up play from the Seasiders saw Hopson sidefoot into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box, via a deflection, as the ball looked to be heading wide initially. It should have been two, within seven minutes, as Tymon intercepted on halfway and set up Roberts’ cross to unmarked midfielder Adam Gell, who inexplicably tried to square the ball instead of shooting from six yards. Seconds later, Roberts skipped along the byline from the left and cut the ball back, only for the men in yellow to frantically clear. Then, as the pressure continued, with 15 minutes left, Hopson’s terrific footwork saw him create an opportunity from similar range to his goal only to drive narrowly wide of Wills’ left-hand post.
Whitby fans got a first look at new signing Luke Bythway since his Monday move as the versatile forward replaced Tymon, with nine minutes left. The bustling frontman was soon in the action but it was strike partner Roberts who came close, five minutes from time. The nimble number nine turned neatly and fired just over, from 16 yards. Then soon after Hopson’s brilliant run was halted by a tremendous full-blooded last-ditch challenge from Metcalfe.
Curtis Round, another fond of a mazy run, replaced the impressive Hopson,with three minutes remaining, before Warrington almost stole a Sutton-like last-minute point. Bland punched away a dangerous Gerard Kinsella cross before two of the hosts’ subs combined as big Ben Deegan, formerly of FC United, nodded inside for Harries to slice wide from a great position.
Late on, Whitby had another gilt-edged chance to put the icing on a great away victory, they again broke 2 on 1, but Roberts could only slide first-time past Wills’ left-hand post, though referee Mr Madine adjudged a yellow shirt got a deflection on the injury time shot.
Whitby’s defence deserves a great deal of credit, alongside the skill of Hopson and skipper Steve Snaith. As well as the constant movement of wing-backs Callum Martin, undeterred by an early yellow card, and Dan McWilliams, newcomer Andy May, big vocal Jamie Poole and the rapidly improving Kieran Weledji performed with admirable skill to contain two big strong highly-regarded marksmen in ex-Halifax forward James Dean and prolific former Southport, Droylsden and Burscough striker Kilheeney.
Warrington Town: Wills, Grogan, Clancy (Turner 69), O’Donnell, McCarten, Ventre (Harries 28), Winder, Kinsella, Kilheeney (c), Dean (Deegan 69), Metcalfe. Subs not used: Rudge, Gillespie.
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, Weledji, Poole, May, Gell, Hopson (Round 87), Roberts (Hume 90), Tymon (Bythway 81), Snaith (c). Subs not used: Park, Dawson (GK).
Star Man: Dale Hopson- three goals in three, three man of the match awards. This was his best showing yet, he looked head and shoulders above.