Whitby Town assistant boss Franks impressed by Blues after win against South Shields
First-half goals from Harrison Beeden and Junior Mondal sent the Seasiders on their way to victory, with Shields’ only goal coming from a late Paul Blackett penalty, writes Paul Connolly.
Despite the divisional difference, the Seasiders’ assistant manager felt there wasn’t much to choose between the sides, and was happy with how his side went about their business.
“Performance-wise we were really impressed,” Franks said.
“The workout the lads got was brilliant and their attitude was excellent.
“I thought the game was fairly evenly matched. They’ve got their own way that they want to play, and we wanted to put our own emphasis on the game.
“For us we need to be organised in and out of possession, but with a bit of fluidity and I felt we managed that.”
The opening exchanges of the game were tight, with both sides looking to establish a foothold in the match, though chances came at a premium, with the first real attempt of note coming from Jacob Gratton.
While Shields felt there should have been a foul on Robert Briggs, Whitby broke with Gratton getting a shot away, though Myles Boney did well to push his effort around his left-hand upright. And from the resulting corner, the Seasiders broke the deadlock. Mondal’s teasing corner fell to Beeden, who got there ahead of Martin Smith to turn the ball into the roof of the net.
Whitby’s struggles converting from set pieces was a point of note last season, leaving Franks happy that work on the training ground was paying off.
“We said this year we need to improve on set plays defensively and attacking,” the Blues’ assistant manager added.
“Something we touched on was that we scored from one against Whitby Fishermen’s Society, we’ve touched on it again today and thankfully the first one went in.
“Harrison’s [Beeden] job at that specific corner was to attack that front area and it fell there.
“As much as he’s outstanding on his defensive duties, he’s also got an eye for goal at the other end. It’s a good trait to have.”
With the goal advantage, Whitby continued to push, creating a number of chances across the first half and limiting their visitors’ attacking prowess.
Just after the half hour mark, Brad Fewster cut inside from the left and fired a powerful attempt over the crossbar, while Jerome Greaves looked to get in the act by attempting to finish off a Whitby counter attack, though like his strike partner, he could only fire over the top.
But the Seasiders soon had their second, just before the break. Mondal rode challenges on the edge of the area, before unleashing a thunderbolt into the top left corner across Boney, from the edge of the penalty area.
“It was a good finish from Junior,” Franks continued.
“I thought up until then, things weren’t quite falling for him. He was nearly in on goal once or twice, he had a couple of lax touches but he keeps getting up, keeps going and keeps having a go.
“It was good play, we won the ball back, it was a good one-two with Greaves and it was topped off with a good finish.”
Across the course of the second half, Shields looked to get themselves back into the game, though often found themselves frustrated and limited to half chances by a resilient Town side.
Blair Adams looked to be the danger man for the visitors, seeing an early effort in the half blocked by Dan Rowe on the edge of the box, before forcing a good save moments later from Shane Bland - the Whitby gloveman’s first real work of the evening - though the offside flag was up against him.
Whitby had chances of their own to extend the lead further, capitalising on their own well-organised pressing of their National League North opponents, with Fewster going closest when his effort from range was deflected onto the roof of the net.
Will Jenkins almost found Shields a way back in on 71 minutes. Patient build-up play from the visitors saw the ball find its way through to Will McGowan. He cut back to Jenkins, who could only curl his effort over the crossbar.
Shields’ route back into the game finally arrived, five minutes from time. John Lufudu was felled just inside the penalty area, leading Sam Packer to point straight to the spot.
Former Whitby forward Blackett stepped up and squeezed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner, with deputy goalkeeper Nick Cranston perhaps unfortunate not to have kept it out, getting a hand to the attempt.
From there, Shields ran out of time in their search for a leveller, with Tom Broadbent going closest with the last exchange of the game, heading Smith’s left-wing cross over the bar.
The Seasiders are back in action on Saturday, when they will contest the inaugural Tony Lee Memorial Trophy against Chris Hardy’s Bishop Auckland, at Heritage Park.
That game is followed by another outing on the road in the Mickey Skinner Memorial Trophy, when the Seasiders travel to Guisborough Town.