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Witton Albion end five-match sequence without a league win by beating Whitby Town
WHAT a difference a week makes.
Had this match been played seven days previous, then Whitby Town’s momentum from beating Worksop may have infused their performance – flat for the most part – with more mojo.
Albion’s aura is different though following a cup comeback at Congleton.
This Witton, vitality back in its veins, was worthy of ending the Seasiders’ seven-match unbeaten sequence that started in November.
The visitors might have been frustrated, conceding an equaliser with four minutes left of a match they controlled while creating more – and the best – chances.
Requiring resilience, in the remaining minutes they scored again. Twice.
The salve to psychological scars from five Premier Division matches without a win – the longest sequence without a success for manager Brian Pritchard since he took over – will be soothing.
Witton say sixth in the standings, but with a game in hand on two teams directly above them they can make theirs a play-off place again on their own terms.
The contrast here to preceding opening periods was complete, in part due to the security debutant Michael Powell brought to Albion’s midfield, as the visitors started with verve.
That said the best chance of the first half hour was Whitby’s, but midfielder Tom Portas pulled wide his shot after pinching the ball off Mathew Wood.
Albion ought still to have led at the break.
Josh Hancock swerved a free kick against the crossbar, goalkeeper Nick Liversedge blocking Joe Shaw’s scrambled attempt from the rebound.
From the resulting corner, Whitby’s number one diverted Anthony Sheehan’s volley – struck cleanly from just inside the box – to safety.
The clearest sight of goal followed next, but Liversedge’s left leg got in the way of Steve Foster’s shot after Danny Andrews had sent him clear.
Witton scored the first goal, a feat they haven’t managed in a league game since New Year’s Day, soon after the restart.
Foster, this time from Joe Shaw’s assist, lifted a lob over Liversedge – caught out of position after leaving his line and then stopping – that bounced into the net.
The away team’s thirst for a second goal almost brought reward on 68 minutes, Liversedge smothering Shaw’s attempt after substitute Oliver James, on for Powell, had swapped passes with Andrews.
The Seadsiders showed signs of life with time running out.
Portas spotted skipper Mark Robinson unmarked at the far post, his swept pass finding the full back in a shooting space.
Witton goalkeeper Stuart Plant, not needed to intervene previously, was swift off his line to save smartly.
From the resulting corner, Whitby were level.
Plant pawed Burgess’ drive into the path of top scorer Craig Farrell, who prodded in from inside the six-yard box.
Witton’s reply was decisive, Andrews retrieving Shane Henry’s sliced clearance before drilling low past Liversedge via a timed Foster lay-off.
When substitute Shaun Tuck scampered clear to steer in a third goal in stoppage time, after Hancock had looped the ball forward, it was to add gloss to Albion’s win.
Witton Star Man: Danny Meadowcroft. A performance that proves he has much to offer this term. Dominant in the air, but also impeccable timing in the tackle and when intercepting, this was his best display since signing for the club.
Whitby (4-3-3) Liversedge (GK), Hassan, Purewal, White (Burgess 76), Robinson, Corker, Portas, Henry, Armstrong, Farrell, Mulligan (Snaith 81). Subs not used Campbell (GK), Craig James, Williams. Goal Farrell 86. Booked Corker, Henry (both fouls).
Witton (4-5-1) Plant (GK), Gardner, Ben Harrison (Glover 76), Meadowcroft, Wood, Andrews, Sheehan, Powell (Oliver James 46), Hancock, Shaw (Tuck 81), Foster. Subs not used Cooper (GK), Moseley. Goals Foster 56, Andrews 90, Tuck 90 (+5).
Referee Matthew Dicicco (Middlesborough)