Whitby Town boss Nathan Haslam eyes strong start to the year at FC United
The Seasiders visit FC United of Manchester at Broadhurst Park on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off) hoping to secure three points and increase the gap between themselves and the Pitching In Northern Premier League Premier Division’s relegation zone, writes Liam Ryder.
It has been a somewhat difficult first four-and-a-half months for 17th-placed Town, who lost 4-2 at South Shields in their last outing on Boxing Day.
And as they prepare to visit Neil Reynolds’ Red Rebels this weekend, Haslam says that he feels that his side have made improvements since the reverse fixture in August - which ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Blues.
On his side’s current injury situation, Haslam said: “We’ve got people recovering from illness. They’re all about there now and we would have had a full squad on Monday against Marske.
“We’re missing Lewis Ritson and Soni Fergus who both have long-term injuries.
“We’ll be going into the FC United game strong having trained twice this week.”
On Fergus’ setback, which has sidelined the defender, Haslam added: “It’s touch and go with Soni, we just have to monitor it. It doesn’t need an operation, that’s been confirmed by a specialist which is good.
“He’s probably already missed four weeks and he’s probably got another four or five to go.
“Fingers crossed we can get that over with sooner rather than later.”
On Monday’s postponed fixture, and it’s impact on preparation for this weekend’s game, the Blues chief said: “It is what it is. It’s non-league football. It’s just unfortunate that it’s been a wet winter.
“Everybody was disappointed, as a club we wanted the game on but it wasn’t to be.
“We’ve got to move on and we’ll look forward to playing FC United on Saturday.
“The reverse fixture was when we were well and truly out of form and carrying lots of injuries. The team we’ve got now is a very different team to that of the summer.
“We know we’re going to be in for a hard game. We’re going to embrace it, we’re playing against a very good team.
“But we know we’re a very good team on our day as well. Every now and again we’ve thrown in an under-par performance and we did that against South Shields.
“We need to put in our second half performance the full 90 minutes at FC United and if we do that we’ve got a chance of coming away with maximum points.”
Haslam is clear on the the aims for his team heading into the remainder of the season and looking back at 2023.
He added: “At a club like Whitby Town we’re always against the odds I think based on the location we’re in.
“There are a lot of big clubs in the league who have been spending lots of money but I think on reflection when you look back at 2021/22 we had a good season, finishing seventh.
“The main thing moving into 2023 is that we continue the great work that we’ve done towards the back end of last year.
“It’s all about finishing the season strongly. The main aim is to steer away from the drop zone.
“For us, it’s all about progressing in the second half of the season.”