Chris Renshaw excels amongst the youngsters
By Paul Harper
A point brought home as we mourn "Murph"!
Match Report by Phil Chadwick
Strange circumstances at the Turnbull ground for this opening match, an empty stand due to a safety issue and no visiting supporters weekend coach party. Nonetheless we still had the wind to contend with!
On a day tinged with great sadness as we learnt just before kick-off of the passing away that morning of Terry Murphy, four new Albion recruits, Chris Renshaw, James Short, Adam Anson & James Murray made their starting debuts whilst a further couple, Jack Byrne & Tom Edwards, came off the bench in the second half.
With regular skipper Rob Hopley out of action following Tuesday’s knee injury Murray started alongside Will Jones up front whilst 22 year old Josh Wardle probably became the youngest to wear the Witton captain’s armband!
Five minutes into the game Renshaw was called into action blocking Brad Fewster’s shot whilst on ten minutes his counterpart Shane Bland kicked away Short’s driven attempt before comfortably saving from Danny McKenna’s return effort.
Midway through the half and following a Cesaire Lingouba free-kick out wide from the right in his own half Jones’s headed into the box with Luke Bythway’s foul on Billy Smart or a handball either way seeing referee Glen Hart rightfully point to the spot.
With Jay Foley still side-lined it fell to Danny McKenna to perform the honours and he gave Bland no chance firing strongly to the top left. (Witton secretary Mike Harper bringing attention to the fact that Witton’s last three season’s opening away games has seen all goals scored being penalty conversions. Steve Tames at Mickleover and Foley at South Shields last year.)
Just short of the half-hour Albion had a couple of chances to extend their lead, Tom Owens with the easiest but shooting over the bar after a Short and Jones combination had set him up from close range whilst Bland then blocked a Murray attempt.
The latter, five minutes from the break, after being nicely set up by Jones could only produce a tame shot at the home keeper.
With tempers starting to flair Mr Hart firstly cautioned Dan Rowe and home skipper Dale Hopson at the same time before brandishing a yellow at Liam Goulding in stoppage time whilst amazingly Aaron Wearmouth, who’d been involved in a few altercations, escaped any punishment whatsoever.
The 2nd half proved to be a different story altogether with the Seasiders really taking advantage of the wind at their backs and producing wave after wave of attacks. The period was only two minutes old when Matthew Tymon spotted the opportunity and produced a lob from just outside the right of the penalty area that drifted over Renshaw to bring an early equaliser.
Albion very quickly nearly got their noses back in front, a piledriver from McKenna after a Jones lay back fisted away by Bland, with Jones firing across the goal from the follow-up.
From then on though it was the Renshaw show that rightly earned him the Whitby sponsors man of the match award. The ex-Evertonian 21 year old firstly pulling off a double save from the initial header and then a point blank follow up smother.
Adam Gell then made use of a Lingouba dally with the keeper diving low to only produce a corner following which he fisted a strong Bythway shot away.
Newly signed, on dual registration from AFC Fylde, 18 year old Jack Byrne replaced Cesaire whilst in the final minutes an even younger, at just 16 and a quarter years old, Tom Edwards was given a late debut. Albion therefore finishing the match with an average team age of 22 hopefully bodes well for the future.
The final word though must go to Renshaw when in the 3rd minute of stoppage time he again earned his new team a point to make the long trail home not too bad when again denying Gell, this time from point-blank.
WHITBY: Bland, Wearmouth, Sukar, Weledji, Bythway, White, Gell, Hopson ©, Fewster, Tymon, Rowe. Substitutes not used: Roper, Rutherford, Mills, M. Dixon & D. Dixon (gk).
ALBION: Renshaw, Lingouba (Byrne 68), Short, Wardle ©, Anson, Goulding, McKenna, Owens, Jones, Smart, Murray (Edwards 88). Substitutes not used: Sorensen, O’Hare & Neild (gk)