By Paul Connolly
North Riding County FA Senior Cup giant killers Whitby Town have been handed a plum draw in the semi-finals of the competition.
The Seasiders will host Middlesbrough’s under-23s at the Turnbull Ground in February, after knocking out National League side York City in the quarter-finals.
Whitby manager Chris Hardy has won the competition on three occasions, during his spell in charge of Guisborough Town, and is keen to add to his success despite drawing tricky opponents.
“It’s a home draw, that’s important,” Hardy told Yorkshire Voice.
“It’s the business end, so we expected a difficult draw but I think we’ve got the most difficult. If we’re going to win the competition though, we’re going to come across Middlesbrough. There are positives we can take from it.
“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be tough. They’re a professional outfit who are a couple of levels above York.
Whitby’s tie with York City in the quarter-finals was well attended, with 328 supporters cheering on the Blues and creating an electric atmosphere, which Hardy hopes will be the case again against the Teessiders.
The match will be the third time the Blues have faced Middlesbrough under-23s since July, with the last meeting coming in December.
— Paul-Owen Connolly (@PaulConLTU) January 26, 2017
Whitby ran out 2-1 winners behind closed doors, with Matthew Tymon and Anthony Hume netting, but Hardy believes that it won’t necessarily be an advantage to his side.
“Both sides know each other quite well,” he added.
“It’ll be a free-flowing game, and the home advantage will sit in our favour. In pre-season, they ran out worthy winners. They were better than us on the day. We played them around Christmas time and we made a strong case for being the stronger side.”
No date has been announced for the fixture yet, though both semi-final ties have to be settled before February 28th.