First half goals from Dave McTiernan and Matty Tymon were enough to send Whitby second after a well-contested affair with fellow high-flyers Ashton.
The Greater Manchester side had made a good start to the new campaign, but lost managers Paul Phillips and Steve Halford to neighbours Stalybridge, recently, along with a handful of playing staff. It showed as the Robins arrived with just three on the bench.
Town boss Chris Hardy made one change from the side that lost 1-0 at Stourbridge on Saturday, with the injured Danny McWilliams making way for Curtis Round at left wing-back. A quiet opening saw Terry Smith save well at McTiernan’s feet following Tymon’s nicely-timed through ball. On 20 minutes, the pair combined even better as a lovely team move saw Dale Hopson released on the left, put over a nice early cross for Tymon to back-head into McTiernan’s path, and the evergreen midfielder powered into the bottom left corner from the right-edge of the box.
Fresh from a similar goal, at the weekend, Adam Gell then sent a speculative chip onto the roof of the net, from 30 yards, while Ashton could easily have levelled after a breakdown in communication at the back from the Blues. Goalkeeper Shane Bland called for a long ball but defender Kieran Weledji failed to react and headed past his team-mate, fortunately, he was able to recover on the byline. However, the ex-Middlesbrough centre-half’s clearance was charged down, as were three successive shots on goal as the visitors rained in efforts from the edge of the penalty area.
Veteran forward Jody Banim had, by now, replaced Ryan Crowther and his powerful low 18-yard drive, forced Bland to tip around his left-hand post, at full stretch.
At the other end, Tymon should have at least got a shot away from skipper Steven Snaith’s low pass, but the ball became stuck under his feet and Smith slid in to smother. However, within seconds, the big number ten made amends. It was another deep Hopson cross, from the left, that was nodded low past a helpless Smith, by the former Workington man, at the back post. A combination of Smith’s heroics and Tymon’s profligacy then robbed Town of a three-goal lead, a minute before time. Man of the match Callum Martin, put over a beautifully inviting ball, from the right, with Tymon starting the move and looking sure to finish it with a free header in the six yard box, only for Smith to somehow tip over point-blank.
The second half opened with a determined Ashton pushing Whitby back and deservedly reducing the arrears. It was the pressure on Luke Bythway that saw the versatile central defender robbed inside his own box and Banim immediately smashed the ball high between Bland and his left-hand post for 1-1. Midway through the half, Bland came for a long ball and promptly dropped at the feet of Jack Dorney who hooked over with a jumping half volley. Then, a neat Whitby breakaway saw Tymon firing low but straight at Smith from the edge of the D.
The away side almost took a point back to the North West in the final minute as the ball dropped invitingly to Lee Gaskell from a long right-wing throw, only for Weledji to be perfectly placed to block on the goal line.
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, Round, Weledji, Bythway, May, Gell, McTiernan, Hopson, Tymon, Snaith. Subs not used: Roberts, Dawson (GK), Hume, Robinson, Park.
Ashton United: T Smith, Smalley, Lofthouse (Coo 71), Cowan, Mason (c), Lee, Dorney, R Smith, Gaskell, Crowther (Banim 24), Dyche. Sub not used: Haining.
Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Callum Martin- a constant threat down the right and sometimes even, down the left.
Match Sponsor: J & J Crump and Son, Sheffield
Matchball Sponsor: Sandsend Bay Holiday Cottages, Whitby
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