Whitby remains a happy hunting ground for Matlock Town after Saturday’s 3-0 win, which took the Gladiators upto third place.
The in-form hosts had won their last eight and league and cup matches — and had kept clean sheets in their previous six outings.
But those statistics meant nothing to Matlock. Steve Kittrick’s men gave a thoroughly professional performance as the Gladiators earned a third successive win at the Turnbull Ground, scoring three goals each time.
It was second versus fifth before kick-off so Whitby must have played better in their tremendous victorious run, but take nothing away from Matlock who put in a fantastic performance. Matlock were simply too strong and streetwise for Whitby on the day.
Whitby had possibly shaded a tight first half but, as the game developed, Matlock wore the hosts down. Goals immediately each side of the interval from Dan Bramall and Luke Hinsley certainly aided their cause, the icing on the cake coming late on as top scorer Marcus Marshall netted his sixth of the season.
Kittrick made three changes to his line-up, Hinsley, Josh Lacey and Jordan Sinnott coming in for the injured Adam Yates, the departed Andrew Wright and the injured Piteu Crouz. Latest signing striker Sam Scrivens, on a month’s loan from Guiseley, was a substitute.
Seasiders’ skipper Dale Hopson fired wildly off target following a through pass from Matthew Dixon in the third minute, the visitors replying four minutes later as Sinnott’s shot was blocked from a well-worked corner, Marshall kicking fresh air from the rebound.
The lanky Arran Wearmouth headed a great opportunity too high from six yards, Hopson the supplier from the right ten minutes later before a quiet period followed.
Then chances were traded by both sides, Jon Stewart denying Adam Gell, Marshall’s 20-yarder flashing inches past the upright, and Stewart comfortably holding a shot on the run from Bradley Mills.
With the half looking destined to conclude scoreless as stoppage time began, Matlock struck a crucial blow.
Marshall escaped down the right, having done well in his deeper role, and his low cross eluded Hinsley, but not Bramall, who forced the ball home.
Whitby were dealt two injury blows, losing Hopson and defender Luke Bytheway before the second half started, and three minutes in they were in deeper trouble. Marshall was fouled a couple of yards outside the penalty box and after Sinnott’s free kick was deflected on to the bar, Hinsley reacted quickest to nod home from a yard out.
A Marshall strike was blocked and Bramall’s low cross from the left was scrambled clear before a Spencer Harris effort lacked power as Matlock looked in complete command.
But the men in white and navy had an escape on 71 minutes, Stewart making a brilliant save to keep out substitute Matty Tymon’s shot before wing back Mills tried his luck, his shot dropping wide.
But that would be the final Whitby threat as Matlock absorbed the diminishing Seasiders’ threat to look dangerous themselves on the counter attack.
Scrivens immediately looked a threat and, with virtually his first touch, he forced Shane Bland into a marvellous fingertip save.
But the travelling fans were cheering again on 88 minutes, when Marshall cut through the home rearguard to shoot home low off a post and ensure a brilliant Matlock away victory.
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Bradley Mills 3 Jassem Sukar 4 Kieran Weledji 5 Luke Bythway (12 Alex White 46) 6 Matthew Elsdon 7 Daniel Rowe 8 Adam Gell 9 Dale Hopson (15 Matty Tymon 45) 10 Arran Wearmouth 11 Matthew Dixon (1 Corey Rpoer 83) Other subs: 14 Ben Kitchen 17 Dan Miller
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Josh Lacey 3 Ben Gordon 4 Jack Rea 5 Bailey Gooda 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Marcus Marshall (14 James Williamson 90) 8 Spencer Harris 9 Luke Hinsley 10 Jordan Sinnott (12 Adam Yates 83) 11 Dan Bramall (17 Sam Scrivens 85) Other subs: 15 Luke Dean 16 Scott Smith
REFEREE: Graeme Hopper (Gateshead) ATTENDANCE: 464 BEST GLADIATOR: Luke Hinsley