FC United came from behind twice to come away from the seaside with a well-fought draw. Joe Yoffe’s goal early into the second half added to an own goal before the break to cancel out Whitby Town’s lead on two occasions.
Prior to kick-off, a minute’s silence was held out of respect for 17 year-old Robert Taylor, a member of Whitby Town’s junior team, who was tragically killed in a recent car accident.
In the first outing in the long-awaited new kit, the United line up read considerably differently to that of recent fixtures. Jake Cottrell and Danny Warrender both returned from injury to start the game and Abdi Ibrahim joined Joe Yoffe upfront for his first competitive start for the club. Ludovic Quistin also moved down the left to fill the place of the suspended Jerome Wright on the wing.
The first real promising move of the game came from a swift interchange between Ibrahim and Carlos Roca, who played the ball first time into the path of Cottrell. The midfielder charged forward, however his strong shot on goal was straight at keeper David Campbell.
Sam Ashton almost came unstuck at the opposite end of the park when a loose ball fell to Whitby. Fortunately for the Reds, the home side missed an open net, passing up a gifted chance to take the lead.
A few decent spells of possession saw FC link together well and work the ball forward. One move saw Yoffe in a decent position inside the Whitby six-yard box. The striker was able to put the ball across the Whitby goal, however no-one was in a position to convert.
A chance then fell for Ged Dalton who charged goalwards down the right wing and looked to be on course for goal, if not for Simon Garner who did well to stay with him, making an excellent saving tackle on the edge of the box.
The Reds however couldn’t prevent Whitby’s first goal on 34 minutes. The home side came forward on the break through Andrew Campbell who beat Ashton with a powerful drive into the top right corner to put the Seasiders ahead.
Minute’s later, Ben Deegan replaced Ibrahim and his presence on the pitch appeared to make an instant impact as United equalised. An Adam Tong throw in on the left came back out to the centre half who whipped the ball into the box, finding the back of the net, courtesy of a deflection off Andrew Leeson.
In the next instant, however, Red celebrations were cut short as Whitby captain, Tony Hackworth regained the lead for his side. A lapse in the United defence made a run down the left flank easy for Hackworth who put the ball across Ashton on 40 minutes.
The Reds could have made all things level on the stroke of half time. A good corner into a crowded box from Garner was somehow scrambled away from the danger area by Whitby, leaving United chasing the game as both teams went in at the break.
Two minutes into the second half, Yoffe evened out the score line once again. Simon Carden picked up Tong’s cross from the left at the far post and played the ball back across the Whitby goal into the path of Yoffe. The predatory striker then made no mistake in putting the ball beyond David Campbell from close range.
Leon Scott almost provided a setback for FC when he ran one on one with Ashton. As the United number one rushed off his line to close him down, Scott managed to get his shot in. Fortunately, Tong was positioned well to make a clearance off the line to deny the Seasiders.
As the half progressed, FC pushed forward in search of a way to take the lead and began to build up in and around the Whitby area, just lacking an end product. Roca broke down the right and switched the ball to Quistin in space on the opposite wing. The speedy winger ran into the box but could only force a corner.
As full-time neared, several bookings stunted the flow of the game and it was Whitby who had a golden opportunity to take all three points from the tie. Campbell outran the United defence and as Ashton came out of his goal to close him down, the striker rounded the keeper, became unbalanced and struck wide of the open net.
In what was ultimately a hard-fought draw, FC United can be pleased with a point from an evenly matched encounter.
Report by Victoria Fullen.