Whitby Town confirmed their place in Monday’s FA Cup Second Qualifying Round draw with a 4-0 win away at Widnes FC in the First Qualifying Round. A solid second-half saw Whitby score three goals and keep their third successive clean sheet to secure their fifth straight victory.
An early Brad Fewster goal gave Whitby the lead at half-time before three second-half goals from Dan Rowe, Matthew Dixon and Dale Hopson left first-team manager Chris Hardy pleased with the performance of his side against strong opposition in difficult conditions under the pressure of a knockout competition.
“The monkey’s off the back isn’t it? There was a little bit of pressure in terms of winning FA Cup games, but obviously we did that today in a real style which I’m over the moon about.
“I must say against a very good Widnes side, technically I think we just got it a little bit more on point today.
“The scoreline arguably flattered but at the same time, we had numerous chances throughout the course of the game which supported the scoreline,” said Hardy.
With the Blues going into half-time with a 1-0 lead Hardy aimed to change the game by changing the shape of his side and knew it would take a strong side to beat Widnes on their own turf.
“Take nothing away from Widnes they are a good side. It would take a good side to beat them on their own turf.
“In terms of possession they were very very good and moved the ball around well at times in the first 45 they gave us a runaround. There is no getting away from that.
“We went in at half-time, we had a few little tweaks and we knew that getting a better shape out of possession and allow Brad to start making inroads on the front foot going in behind.
“That’s the way it panned out and we saw the improvements in the opening exchange of the second 45 so again I’m absolutely delighted with the way the lads have reacted,” Hardy added.
A strong second-half performance saw Whitby score four goals in their third successive away match but also secured their third successive clean sheet and Hardy believes his side was excellent.
“We talk about goals in the side which we know are there, I think the set pieces are on point and Brad is on fire.
“But again when you look at what the side did in terms of a platform to be able to that, tactically, defensively I thought we were excellent,” said Hardy.
Having secured their place in the next round, Hardy is happy for not only his side but for the Whitby faithful to still be involved in this historic competition.
“It’s nice to be in the draw. It’s good for you guys, the Whitby faithful to be in the draw and experience that scenario on Monday,” Hardy added.
Whitby now have a week until they host Hyde and Hardy believes the extra rest could be a blessing in disguise for his side as he aims to get some players back to full fitness.
“It’s probably a blessing in disguise, it gives us a little bit more time for recovery, the boys have been flat out since the start of the season, so yeah it’s a welcomed rest.
“Hopefully we’ll have a closer look at Alex (White), a closer look at Greg (Rutherford) and in fairness, we do need to get these players back because as much as we put a full quote out today, there’s sometimes a little more depth needed to the squad,” Hardy said.