A Jeff Smith goal thirteen minutes from time secured relegation threatened Whitby a vital victory over ten man Northwich Victoria
The goal had been long overdue for the dominant hosts, who will bemoan their finishing for not winning this match more comfortably.
Although John Disney’s sending off did seem to swing the game in Whitby’s favour, after Northwich had cancelled out an opener from Tom Portas in the first half to level.
Centre half Dominic Collins, missing from the midweek win against Burscough returned to the team, meaning Kyle Armstrong returned to his usual central midfield role ahead of the suspended Tom Field. Michael Roddy came in for Wayne Riley in the other Northwich change.
Northwich started in lively fashion and earned two corners. Whitby responded with Smith attacking and crossing down the left wing into the feet of Nathan Milligan, who struck wide from the edge of the box.
But shortly later, Whitby took the lead on nine minutes, the source – a long ball from David McTiernan that found Milligan inside the penalty area on the left hand side, who unselfishly crossed for Portas to sweep the ball home under the despairing arms of Ben Hinchliffe in the Northwich goal.
Whitby used their goal to take the initiative, their long ball game unsettled a Northwich backline still shy of influential centre half Ian Kearney,. They were not scared of committing to tackles either, and their lead would have been doubled if it had not been for Collin’s clearing Smith’s effort off the line.
Despite the dominance from Whitby, some poor defending was to cost them a goal on thirty eight minutes. Lewis Short’s throw into the box was dealt with poorly leaving an unmarked Chris Budrys to nod in at the far post.
Then on forty one minutes came John Disney’s dismissal, a dismissal that changed the game just as Whitby were lacking confidence and starting to let their hosts back into the game.
Disney was an attacking outlet throughout the first half with Ryan Wade on the right, not only that – Armstrong was forced into playing at full back meaning the ball was not being kept as well in the midfield.
As much was emphasised when Whitby took complete control of the second half, creating chances that should have long secured them the game.
The first of these chances saw Portas raced clear after finding himself through on goal from a long ball over the top, but his lob over the approaching Hinchliffe sailed narrowly wide.
Next Smith blazed over after Kevin Burgess had pulled the ball into the box, and shortly later Milligan sent through Smith with an inch perfect pass, only for his shot to be saved by Hinchliffe before the approaching Darren Williams could get a touch to it.
Individual mistakes did not help the Northwich cause as Whitby continued their onslaught, one such mistake saw Kyle Armstrong fail with an air kick in an attempt to clear a long ball, leaving Jamie Clarke to cross, but the cross was weak and could not quite reach the incoming McTiernan.
Something had to give and it finally did on seventy seven minutes, the goal came when another long ball – this time from Clarke saw Smith through and this time he made no mistake in slotting the ball home past Hinhcliffe to send the Whitby faithful into hysteria.
Whitby were now rampant and an excellent run from Portas who did well to keep the ball in and race clear almost saw him secure the three points, but for Hinchliffe’s fine save on to the post.
Northwich rarely threatened, but still had a fantastic chance to snatch an equaliser right at the death from David Fitzpatrick’s long ball into the box that was flicked on by Tony Evans to Jordan Johnson, but the former Telford man struck into the side netting from close range.
This was only the second meaningful shot of the game for Northwich, one was the goal in a performance clearly lacking in the final third, with far too much long ball play.
A passionate Whitby, had an array of chances and finished the game unlucky to have only won by a one goal margin.The win sees them out of the drop zone and on the evidence of this game, they will almost certainly stay up.
Whitby: Liversedge (GK), Hassan, Robinson (C), Burgess, White, McTiernan, Portas, Williams (Beadle 71) , Clarke (Leeson 86), Mulligan, Smith
Subsitutes: Beadle, Ure, Lyth, Leeson, Campbell
Goals: Portas (9), Smith (77)
Northwich: Hinchliffe, Disney, Fitzpatrick, Collins, Smyth, Armstrong, Roddy, Abbott (C), Budrys (Johnson 76), Wade (Evans 67), Short (Woolfe 67)
Substitutes: Evans, Law, Johnson, Woolfe
Goal: Budrys (38)
Sending off: Disney (41)
Referee: S. Hudson
Assistant: D. Fitzpatrick
Assistant: C. Patterson
Man of the match: Plenty of candidates for Whitby in an excellent team performance, but Mark Robinson lead the team supernly. Tom Portas and Jeff Smith also looked lively throughout on the flanks. Dominic Collins produced a solid and assured display for Northwich at centre half.