Osebi Abadaki’s second-half hat-trick emphatically cancelled out Dale Hopson’s 17th goal of the season as the Seasiders stay third in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division.
Blues boss Chris Hardy made one change as striker Mikey Roberts replaced midfielder Dave McTiernan as Hopson dropped deeper into the centre of the park. It was Roberts who threatened first, at the Turnbull Ground, five minutes in, popping up on the left-edge of the visitors’ box but lacking the elevation on his shot to do anything but curl straight at goalkeeper David Parton.
At the other end, the lively Joe Mwasile charged down Shane Bland, with memories of Grantham’s freak goal recently, but the ball deflected wide off the ex-FC United winger. Soon after, Ryan Brooke dispossessed Mark Robinson on halfway, but decided on an ambitious and poorly-executed attempted lob that skidded off the pitch and into Bland’s clutches, from 30 yards. Then Matt Bell clipped inches wide of Bland’s right-hand post from the edge of the box, after collecting Mwasile’s right-wing ball with his left foot and shooting quickly with his right.
As Nantwich took control, Steven Snaith slipped in the box and only a save with knees from Bland denied Brooke at the keeper’s right-hand post. On the half hour, Brooke’s header was hooked off the Blues’ goal-line, then Abadaki’s determined run off the left flank and along the byline culminated in him clipping the outside of the near post, with the ball then rebounding wide off Bland’s back.
Despite all that pressure, Blues could have taken the lead, ten minutes before the break, when Dan McWilliams crossed from the left and Roberts’ beautifully-directed 18-yard header forced Parton to dive full-length to his right to push onto the post. Wayne Riley then sent a rising effort narrowly over the Blues’ bar from similar distance.
However, it was the Seasiders who led, ten minutes into the second half, via a familiar source. Hopson’s incredible season continued as McWilliams fed him on the left and he cut along the edge of the box, past two players, before picking his spot in the bottom-right corner. They say a side is most vulnerable after conceding a goal, this proved to be the case for Hardy’s boys as Nantwich replied immediately. Brooke’s powerful 30-yarder was parried by Bland, but only into Abadaki’s path, on the left of the box, and he fired back across goal, into the far corner, via a deflection off Luke Bythway, from 10 yards.
Abadaki’s lethal pace was apparent, two minutes later, he raced down the right, beating Bythway and bringing another save with his legs, at the near post, from Bland. At the other end, some neat interplay saw Snaith feed Connor Smith down the right and the Hartlepool loanee drilled agonisingly, across the face, but wide of any blue shirts and the far post. Another lightning break then turned the match on its head as a long ball glanced off Bythway’s head and Abadaki galloped down the left, outrun May and finished across Bland for 2-1.
Brooke forced Bland to touch over a rising 30-yard piledriver before Parton smothered another cross-shot from Smith. Mwasile swept wide after breaking down the right, before an uncharacteristic move from Hardy. Blues fans are used to seeing the manager make as few changes as possible, but he decided something had to change, with 17 minutes remaining. A trio of like-for-like changes saw Callum Martin replace McWilliams on the left, Kyle Fryatt to make an Evo-Stik League debut for Roberts up top and McTiernan to come into midfield, for Adam Gell. Snaith again combined well with Smith down the right, but another driven right-wing cross was well-judged and cut out low by the diving Parton.
Nantwich, who have been reinstated to the FA Trophy, this week, pending an appeal from opponents Shaw Lane, made sure of the points, ten minutes from time. Despite initial calls for offside, Brooke timed his run perfectly, down the right, to collect Andy White’s long ball and square for that man Abadaki to tuck home, unmarked, point blank, at the far post. Late on, Bland pushed substitute Oliver Finney’s shot wide of his left-hand post.
Co-operative Whitby Man of the Match: Luke Bythway- Strong at the back but met a formidable foe in Abadaki. Bland saved well to keep the scoreline respectable.
Whitby Town: Bland, Smith, McWilliams (Martin 73), May, Bythway, Robinson, Gell (McTiernan 73), Snaith (c), Roberts (Fryatt 73), Tymon, Hopson. Subs not used: Weledji, Hume.
Nantwich Town: Parton, White, Touray, Jones, J Stair, Hall (c) (Finney 58), Mwasile (T Stair 75), Bell, Brooke (Walker 81), Riley, Abadaki. Subs not used: Quinn, Sanders.