WARRINGTON Town couldn’t keep their play-off dreams alive as they were pegged back twice in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Whitby.
With time running out on the season, and following last week’s home defeat against Stafford, nothing but a win would do for Paul Carden’s side and they led twice through Daniel Hattersley.
But league Player of the Year Dale Hopson was instrumental as the hosts struck back both times to earn Whitby a point that does their own play-off hopes no favour either.
The Yellows were forced in to a late team change, as Ruben Jerome was forced out with an ankle injury having originally been named as starting.
His knock meant Hattersley stepped up, and within nine minutes he’d had a decisive impact on the match.
The striker won a free-kick down the right, and a beautiful delivery by Sean Williams was powered home by the head of Hattersley, who was missing through suspension in the 2-1 reverse against Stafford last Saturday.
Warrington were perhaps guilty of giving Hopson a little too much respect, and his free-kick fell to Steve Snaith at the back post, and Mitch Duggan had to get an important block in.
From another Whitby set piece, the Yellows failed to clear and the ball fell to Callum Martin who fizzed a shot just wide.
The visitors suffered another injury blow in the middle of the first half, as Sean Williams hobbled off to be replaced by Adam Carden.
There wasn’t much in the way of clear cut chances for the remainder of the first half, which was plagued by a number of strange free kicks and more six minutes added on time.
With a Whitby onslaught expected, Warrington started the second half brightly and almost doubled their lead within a minute, Dylan Vassallo weaving his way through and his shot coming back off the inside of the post and in to the arms of a gleeful goalkeeper.
Vassallo was causing the defence problems and he released Scott Bakkor through the inside right channel and his shot was deflected wide.
But then against the run of play, Whitby levelled things up. Carden slipped under pressure and Hopson kept his cool to stand up three men and bury it in the top corner, with a couple of Yellows players protesting for a foul in the build up.
It didn’t deter the Yellows, and within three minutes they had the lead back. Vassallo again causing problems and when he was brought down, the referee played advantage and Bakkor’s cross was diverted home at the second attempt by Hattersley, who improvised brilliantly with an overhead kick that went in through the keeper’s legs.
Warrington had chances to create breathing room between the two sides, Carden’s cross falling for Michael Bakare on the penalty spot, and after he created space for the shot, he blazed over.
A couple of crosses came to nothing for the Yellows, before a miscommunication at the back on 74 minutes almost gifted an equaliser to Whitby. Carden and Tony McMillan left it for each other, and with the keeper in no mans land, Kieren Weledji’s chip was headed off the line by Evan Gumbs.
The equaliser did come 12 minutes from time, a mistake from Josh Askew allowed Hopson to bear down on goal, he lofted it over the oncoming McMillan and the ball came back off the post for Michael Tymon to tap in.
Both teams went for it towards the end, knowing that a win was what was needed, but ultimately they had to settle for a point.
Warrington’s play-off hopes are not mathematically over, four points off fifth with two games to play, but it would take a minor miracle now.
The Yellows welcome Ashton United to Cantilever Park on Easter Monday.
Whitby: Bland, Martin, Bell, May, Bullock, Gell, Snaith, Hopson, Roberts (Hume), Tymon, Weledji. Unused subs: Robinson, Dixon, Fryatt, Anderson.
Warrington: McMillan, Duggan, Askew (Monaghan), Williams (Carden), McCarten, Gumbs, Vassallo, Smart, Hattersley, Bakkor, Bakare (Harries). Unused subs: Codling, Shaw.