Whitby Town stun Chelmsford City to book Bristol Rovers trip in FA Cup first round
League One Bristol Rovers await at The Memorial Stadium in the First Round Proper, after the Seasiders ran out convincing 3-1 winners over Chelmsford City at the Towbar Express Stadium at the Turnbull Ground, writes Paul Connolly.
Jacob Gratton opened the scoring again for Whitby 34 minutes in, while Junior Mondal added a second five minutes later.
Mo Bettamar pulled one back for the Clarets 15 minutes from time, before Mondal put the game to bed in injury time with an outstanding finish across Josh Oluwayemi.
The win ended the Seasiders’ twenty year wait for an Emirates FA Cup First Round Proper appearance, and Haslam was rightfully proud that his side reached this stage for the ninth time in the club’s history.
“I can’t praise my lads any more than what the supporters gave them,” Haslam said post-match.
“It’s been a journey, the first round was the objective at the start of the season. You always want an FA Cup run and to a man the lads have delivered in each round.
“Tonight we put our chances away. We should’ve put it to bed on Saturday but we’ve gone again.
"They had a bad day at the office on Saturday, but I think we made them that way and we’ve done exactly the same this time.
“The class we showed - the courage, the bravery, the aggression - was excellent. Everything we did was on the front foot and we did that right the way through the tie. We were thoroughly deserved winners.”
The hosts made the early running and went close early on. However, neither Jacob Gratton nor Alfie Doherty could guide the ball either side of keeper Josh Oluwayemi.
Whitby made the running of the opening 45 minutes, controlling possession with a well-drilled, composed and high energy performance.
Just over half an hour in, Gratton worked himself some space on the edge of the 18-yard box, though he could only find Oluwayemi’s hands again.
The Whitby midfielder didn’t have long to wait for his goal, however. Junior Mondal was slipped in down the right, before cutting back from the byline for Gratton to tap home, for his eighth goal of the season.
The Mondal and Gratton link-up - which has proved profitable for the Seasiders over the last six games - paid dividends again just five minutes later.
Gratton this time turned provider to put the ball on a plate for Mondal, who finished with ease from close range to give Whitby a two-goal advantage at the break.
While the second half provided little in the way of chances, Whitby continued to look solid in their attempts to contain the attacking threat of their visitors, though couldn’t quite manage to keep them at bay.
With 15 minutes left, Mo Bettamar managed to find a way through the Whitby back line, netting a scrappy goal from a right-wing cross.
And the sub almost gave Whitby a sense of deja vu two minutes later, as he glanced a header just wide of the mark inside the penalty area.
Despite the visitors looking to push forward in search of a leveller, it was Whitby who found a second wind following the introductions of Lewis Hawkins and Connor Simpson 10 minutes from time.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Whitby looked like they may have put the game to bed. Gratton rattled the woodwork with a vicious effort after the visitors failed to clear Doherty's low ball into the box.
Nerves were jangling around the Towbar Express Stadium, though they were soon settled late in injury-time.
Town broke down the left, Simpson playing Mondal through, who fired an outstanding effort across the face of Oluwayemi’s goal and in off the upright, causing pandemonium around the ground.
A trip to Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers await Whitby in the First Round Proper, with the tie due to be played on the weekend of November 4th.
Ticket and travel details will be announced by Whitby Town in due course.