Whitley’s 4-1 victory over Tow Law Town on Saturday was their third consecutive win and it strengthened their grip on second place in the table.
Shortly after the final whistle, manager Nick Gray gave his thoughts on the performance. “I thought the first half we played some great football, the only slight disappointment was being at 1-0 at half time. The pitch was nice, we moved the ball quite quickly. We had a couple of good opportunities. At half time we said just keep it going, keep your standards high and don’t be complacent. Second half when it was still 1-0 we had a couple of good chances. Marc Ellison’s made a great run in the box and he’s put it just wide and you start to think is it one of those days? I thought he had an excellent game, Ellison in the middle of the park. Then we get a penalty against us which you think sometimes you don’t get fouls given against keepers but we did there and it went 1-1, Harrison guessed the wrong way, but credit to the lads they didn’t get flustered, they stayed composed and I think we scored within two minutes. That was a great reaction to them getting level and it was nice after getting the second to get the third and the fourth. Perhaps it’s being a bit greedy but we probably wanted them a bit earlier, but listen we know ourselves. Are we satisfied? No. Are we going the right way? Yes. Are we happy? Yes. Could we do more? Yes, but we’re in a good position. We’re quarter way through the season, so you never get carried away but we just want to keep our standards high and move on to the next game. But today we did enough. It was a good crowd today and I’m pleased that we’ve given them a good performance, because when we’ve had good crowds before, we’ve let ourselves down as a team I think, sometimes by not expressing ourselves, but I thought today everyone from 1 to 17 put a shift in today. It was great getting the subs on the pitch and getting some people back from injury.”
Jos Storr made his home debut and the manager was pleased with his performance. “The lad’s had one training session with us, he’s played two games and he’s going to be an asset to us. You could see that, he got an assist and he might have score but was a bit unlucky but he’ll take that and he’ll just get better, stronger, quicker, faster the more time he gets with us. But we’ve got competition there which is good. I thought Mark Davison had a really good game today as well and I’m pleased he got two goals because he works really hard. He’s isolated at times but he kept on going and he got his just rewards by keeping plugging away.”
Tow Law were awarded a penalty midway through the second half when Harrison Bond was penalised Harrison. “Could he have come for the ball a bit earlier? For me the centre forward has backed into him and you think there’s not many times they give fouls against the goalkeeper but they did that time. it was a good finish by the lad but Harrison’s not had a lot to do today his footwork was excellent, his distribution has been really good and he’s giving Dan some competition there.”
“The pleasing point is we’re getting players back which is good for the squad. Elliott (Day) and Luke (Page) were back today back, Jos is there, Cameron Brewis getting closer. We’re looking a bit better now for competition. If you look at the games it’s very rare we’ve filled the bench up in the 10 games we’ve had but if you look at the bench today - and I always say your team’s only as good as your strength on the bench - and I look at the bench today and you think I’ve got some good and hard decisions to make, and that can only be good and encouraging for the club. If you play well you keep your place, no squad rotation in my eyes.”
Next Saturday second placed Whitley face a top of the table game at leaders Shildon and the manager is relishing it. “That’s what we’re in football for, challenges like that. We’ve had some games when we’ve plugged away and got the results but next week it’ll be a real challenge, we’ll see where we’re at. I’m looking forward to it.”