Category: 2016-2017 Club News

Ashford Still On Course For Title

SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday April 4 2017 19.45

Ashford United moved six points clear at the top of the league with a win at the Belmont. Whitstable started well and the big Ashford goalkeeper George Kamurasi had to make two smart saves from Frankie Sawyer. A controversial free kick awarded to Ashford was headed past Dan Eason by Shaun Welford on 14 minutes to give the visitors the lead. Whitstable continued to create a few chances, but could not find a way through and, after a quiet spell, a long ball caught out the home defence and Matt Day made it 2-0 with a good finish as half time approached. The second half was notable more for a series of cards than any good football, with James Morrish and Charlie Smith both being sent off for Whitstable, although Eason had to make a couple of great saves to prevent Ashford scoring again. The introduction of Jack Mahoney and Seb Rowland seemed to inject more variety into the Whitstable game plan and despite having only nine men on the pitch, the home side had a few good chances in the closing stages, but there was to be no way back.

For Whitstable, Aaron Quain and Bola Dawodu returned to the starting eleven, but there were still several regular defenders unavailable as they took on an Ashford team looking to win their remaining five fixtures to clinch the title. In front of a good midweek crowd, Whitstable had the better of the opening minutes and might well have taken the lead. Good play by Dawodu on the right created an early chance for Sawyer, who turned and shot low across goal, only to be denied by the diving Kamurasi. On 10 minutes the Ashford keeper had to come out to head a through ball clear, but the home side continued to press and eventually Kane Rowland sent a left footed volley over the bar. Craig Thompson then played a clever pass to send Sawyer clear again, but this time he was denied by the legs of Kamurasi with the ball rebounding into the path of Thompson whose shot was too high.

George Kamurasi gets down to save from Frankie Sawyer
Kamurasi denies Sawyer again

The complexion of the game changed shortly afterwards however as Dawodu appeared to win the ball cleanly as Ashford tried to break down the right, but the referee awarded a free kick. After the Whitstable protests had subsided, David Botterill whipped the ball into the box where Welford rose to glance the ball into the net.

Shaun Welford puts Ashford in front

Back at the other end a good low cross from Aaron Quain was pushed away by Kamurasi, before Dawodu shot over from just outside the box and then the same player headed a Quain free kick straight at the goalkeeper. The game then went through a quiet spell with both sides doing their best to keep the ball in the air as it was lifted aimlessly backwards and forwards more often than not. On 35 minutes Rory Hill, despite losing a boot, was brought down as he tried to break into the box, earning a booking for Dawodu. The resulting free kick was tipped over the bar by Eason and from the corner that followed, the ball bobbled around a bit in the box before falling to Welford, who stabbed it wide of the post. A few minutes later though the home defence failed to deal properly with a ball forward that was helped on by Welford into the path of Day, who found himself in space and struck a nice half volley past Eason into the far corner. As half time approached, some further Ashford pressure threatened a third goal, but Welford glanced a header wide from a corner and Eason saved from Day as Whitstable struggled to clear.

Coming out for the second half with a two goal deficit, Whitstable never seriously looked like turning things around and the game became quite scrappy. The ball went across the Whitstable goal several times in an early Ashford attack, but the ball ended safely in the hands of Eason. On 53 minutes there was a bit of a scuffle in midfield involving a number of players and three ended up in the book as a result. Welford was then late with a challenge on Bryant as he cleared the ball, but escaped a booking. Mahoney came on in place of Thompson for Whitstable and Adrian Stone replaced Day for the visitors. Just before the hour mark, a Whitstable free kick was cleared and as Ashford tried to break Morrish pulled back his opponent on the halfway line. The reaction of the Ashford player was not the best, but Morrish then went in with his head and was deservedly shown a red card. Hill struck a free kick wide of the home goal before being substituted by Ryan Palmer on 68 minutes. A great cross from the left by Welford found Danny Stubbs unmarked in front of goal, but his close range header was very well saved by Eason.

Sawyer made a good run down the right for Whitstable, but the shot went wide of the far post. Ashford then made their final substitution as Joe Vines took the place of Richard Avery. On 77 minutes Whitstable were down to nine as Smith, already on a yellow card, made an unnecessary challenge near the halfway line and walked off before the referee had a chance to get his cards out. Welford headed the ball back across the goal to Stubbs, who in turn headed it over the bar. A Palmer cross was then headed towards goal by Stone, but Eason pulled off another good save. Seb Rowland replaced Sawyer and Quain pushed further forward for Whitstable, who then perhaps surprisingly started to cause more problems for the relatively untroubled Ashford defence as they started to make some threatening runs. Quain beat several players and sent over a good cross, but there was no one on the end of it. He then received a misplaced Ashford pass that left him through on goal, but as he took time to work it on to his left foot, he eventually rounded the keeper but a defender got back to deflect his shot for a corner.

Aaron Quain sees his shot deflected past the post

A push in the back sent Quain over the touchline, but the officials failed to spot it and Quain was booked for his reaction, much to the amusement of the players and others around the ground. Ashford won three successive late corners that came to nothing, before a great run by Seb Rowland ended with a foul on the edge of the box and a booking for the visitors. Quain sent the free kick into the side netting and the match ended a couple of minutes later.

Ashford therefore remain in pole position to win the league title and possible promotion, although nothing is certain at this stage. Whitstable started and ended the game positively, but both teams played a similar route one style for most of the game and Ashford were better at it than the hosts, who must also reflect on a couple of moments of unnecessary indiscipline.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Charlie Smith, Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant (c), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Bola Dawodu, James Morrish, Craig Thompson (Jack Mahoney 57), Frankie Sawyer (Seb Rowland 79), Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Harry Brown, Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Yellow cards: Bola Dawodu 35, Charlie Smith 53, 77, Craig Thompson 53, Aaron Quain 85.
Red cards: James Morrish 60, Charlie Smith (two yellows) 77.

Ashford United
George Kamurasi, Stuart West (c), Fraser Walker, David Botterill, Richard Avery (Joe Vines 72), Pat Kingwell, Danny Stubbs, Jason Goodchild, Shaun Welford, Matt Day (Adrian Stone 58), Rory Hill (Ryan Palmer 68).
Subs (unused): Luke Eldridge, George Savage.
Goals: Shaun Welford 14, Matt Day 40.
Yellow cards: Rory Hill 53, Jason Goodchild 60, David Botterill 90+1.

Attendance: 201
Referee: Richard Joss
Assistants: Ryan Chantril-Smith & Mark Cheeseman

Bryant Double Steals The Points

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 1 2017 15.00

Two first half goals from skipper Tom Bryant gave a much depleted Whitstable side another win on their travels, although Bearsted will feel they played well enough to have deserved something from the game. The home side made the better start, but were undone by two set pieces. Most of the attacking football after the break was played by Bearsted, particularly down their left side, as Whitstable picked up another couple of injuries and rarely threatened to add to their score. Despite pulling a goal back through Peter Williams soon after the restart though, Bearsted were unable to beat Dan Eason again and the reunited Rowland brothers almost created a third for Whitstable towards the end.

It was a reshuffled Whitstable team that ran out for a first competitive visit to Honey Lane, where Bearsted had recently beaten Ashford and drawn with Sheppey. The defence had an unfamiliar look with Rob Gillman, Ashley Brown, Aaron Quain and Connor Hood all unavailable due to injury, illness or work commitments. Bola Dawodu and Harris Rodgers also missed out through injury, but James Morrish and Harry Brown were back from suspension and Seb Rowland was also available, having returned from university for a second spell with the club.

Bearsted were soon on the attack and, as Whitstable struggled to clear an early corner, a shot from the edge of the box bounced awkwardly but was kept out by the body of Eason. The Whitstable goalkeeper took a knock as he dived to gather a dangerous low cross from the left and Reece Collins then shot over from around 25 yards. On 7 minutes Frankie Sawyer won a corner for the visitors and took it himself from the left. It went deep across to Brown who played it back into the box where Craig Thompson hit a first time shot that struck the near post and the ball rebounded into the path of Bryant who made no mistake to open the scoring.

Craig Thompson hits the post
Tom Bryant is first to the rebound

The home side continued to press however and a Williams cross was headed tamely at Eason by Constantin Scarlat. A free kick into the box went just past Calvin Sedenu, almost giving Graeme Andrews a free header, but it just evaded him. After a couple more Bearsted corners, Lucian Scarlat shot straight at Eason and then Williams broke clear but could only shoot into the side netting. Just after the half hour mark a Whitstable corner was nodded down by Sedenu, but cleared away. Bearsted had another period of pressure before Kane Rowland was fouled and Brown played the ball to Morrish and his shot from outside the box was deflected for a corner. As Sawyer swung the ball across, Bryant came through a crowd of players and powered his header into the net to double the lead on 40 minutes.

James Morrish tries a shot from distance
Tom Bryant heads the second
Whitstable 2 Bearsted 0

Almost from the restart, Bearsted should have pulled a goal back as a great cross from the left was headed wide by Collins when he looked certain to score. Lucian Scarlat, the Bearsted left winger who looked the best player on the pitch, then volleyed just over from the edge of the box and just before the interval he ran through but shot at Eason.

At the start of the second half a Lucian Scarlat cross caused a bit of panic in the Whitstable defence and as the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Matt Garner forced Eason to get down to save his low shot. Some good play on the Whitstable right led to Morrish sending the ball across, where Sawyer shot wide of the target. Bearsted then found a way back into the game on 49 minutes as Lucian Scarlat crossed low from the left and Williams was there to shoot high into the net from close range.

Peter Williams scores for Bearsted

Dan Smith then replaced a limping Brown for Whitstable, before another great low cross by Lucian Scarlat was scrambled clear. At the other end a good run by Sawyer was ended by Graeme Andrews with the ball rolling across the 18 yard line, where it was lifted just over the top by Morrish. Lucian Scarlat was causing lots of problems down the left, ably assisted by Cameron Croucher, and after he saw a shot saved by Eason he got to the goal line again and pulled the ball back for Matt Garner who shot over the bar. Kane Rowland made a good run for Whitstable to win a corner that was cleared, before Sawyer had to leave the field to be replaced by Brendon Cass. Bryant was booked for stopping the ball going over his head with a raised hand and both teams made substitutions on 69 minutes with Seb Rowland coming on for Thompson and Ollie Wells replacing the Bearsted goal scorer Williams.

Dan Eason saves this effort

Kane Rowland had a low shot saved by Scott Andrews after a mazy run and a Dan Smith cross was volleyed over by namesake Charlie. Lucian Scarlat hit a low shot that led to a big scramble, but the Whitstable defence eventually cleared the danger. A cross from Seb Rowland to brother Kane just failed to fall nicely for him to get a shot away. The last good opportunity for an equaliser came on 90 minutes as Morrish was booked for a challenge 25 yards out, but the free kick by Michael Holliday went wide. The final whistle sounded after Eason has safely claimed a long ball forward and Whitstable had a hard earned, and perhaps a little fortunate, 2-1 win.

Another win – just

Ashford United visit the Belmont on Tuesday, effectively needing to win their last five games to secure the title. Hopefully Whitstable might have a couple of their missing players back for what is sure to be a stern test.

Scott Andrews, Sam Flisher, Cameron Croucher, Andrew Foster (c), Graeme Andrews, Michael Holliday, Reece Collins, Matt Garner (Chris Carcary 86), Peter Williams (Ollie Wells 69), Constantin Scarlat, Lucian Scarlat.
Subs (unused): Ryan Golding, Stephen Sage, Ben Donnelly.
Goal: Peter Williams 49

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Charlie Smith, Harry Brown (Dan Smith 50), Tom Bryant (c), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Jack Mahoney, James Morrish, Craig Thompson (Seb Rowland 69), Frankie Sawyer (Brendon Cass 63), Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Declan Kirk, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Tom Bryant 7, 40.
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 64, James Morrish 90+1.

Attendance: 61
Referee: Daniel Procter
Assistants: Sam Jackson & Danny Swannell

Atkins Double Dumps Whitstable Out Of Cup

(Sheppey United win 4-2 on aggregate)
Macron SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-final Second Leg
Tuesday March 28 2017 19.45

A brace of goals by seasoned striker Richard Atkins was enough to see Sheppey United progress to the final of the SCEFL Challenge Cup at the expense of Whitstable, where they will meet Sevenoaks, who eased past Ashford United 3-0.

On a pleasant evening for late March, the bumper crowd of 316 witnessed a game where the home side dominated the possession, while the visitors took their chances.

As early as the 8th minute, a clumsy challenge by the experienced Sheppey captain Rob Saunders on Frankie Sawyer saw him enter referee Mr Rudd’s book, but the resulting free-kick by Sawyer went tamely wide. Soon after, Connor Hood was also cautioned, when a 50-50 tackle on Karn Miller-Neave saw the latter reeling in agony, but after a little treatment he was able to continue. Miller-Neave went down again soon afterwards, claiming an elbow to the head, but the referee who had a good game waved away the protests from the visitors and only gave a throw-in. Whitstable were seeing more of the ball now, but efforts by Sawyer, Craig Thompson and Kane Rowland were food and drink for Dean Warford in the Sheppey goal.

Then just after midway through the first half, Sheppey’s first real attack led to the opening goal. David Abe jinked passed a couple of players and fed Richard Atkins and he slipped past Ashley Brown who tripped him in the box, leading to a penalty. With no complaints from the home side, Atkins sent Dan Eason the wrong way to put the travelling team 1-0 up.

Whitstable soon gained their first corner of the match, which resulted in a swivel shot from Sawyer going just wide. A long punt by Warford then found Atkins, but his effort threatened the windows in the houses behind the goal, rather than the goal itself. Just before the break, home skipper Rob Gilman picked up an injury and was replaced by Jack Mahoney. In stoppage time, Mahoney picked out Sawyer and the return ball to Mahoney saw him send in a shot which Warford only parried to Thompson, who netted; however the flag went up as Thompson had strayed offside.

HT 0-1

Sheppey came out of the blocks quicker in the second half and a neat move by Dan Bradshaw, after Ashley Brown slipped, fed Atkins whose diet for goal was spot on and the poacher coolly netted to the travelling fans joy, leaving Town an uphill task.

Aaron Quain then went into the book after words with the official and Newman Poku was introduced, replacing the injured Ashley Brown. Whitstable then started pushing forward and an off the ball incident by Joseph Denny, who blatantly stopped a Kane Rowland run, saw him lucky to only see yellow. The resulting free kick saw Quain float the ball gently over the bar. Just after the hour Dan Bradshaw was given a straight red after pushing Ollie Lee in the face in another off the ball incident. The home side then threw caution to the wind, but poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping was frustrating the Oystermen. Mahoney though was dominating the midfield and showed some excellent touches, leading to more unfinished chances.

With the clock ticking down and Sheppey getting away with some time wasting tactics, another attack saw a Rowland shot beat the keeper, but Saunders on the line stuck out a hand, resulting in a penalty and an early shower for visiting defender, who threw his arm band away and his took his shirt off in a tantrum moment. Alas, Sawyer’s weak penalty was easily saved, but Rowland found the net on the rebound, only for it to be ruled out for a push, which looked really harsh. However there was still time for a superb dipping effort by Sawyer to be brilliantly saved by Warford, who then moments later denied Thompson from six yards out.

So, it’s the end of the Whitstable Cup dream, but with Ashford and Crowborough wobbling at the top and still to visit the Belmont, the season for some is not quite over yet.

Unfortunately there were no official photos taken for this match.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c) (Jack Mahoney 41), Ashley Brown (Newman Poku 58), Ollie Lee, Charlie Smith, Craig Thompson, Frankie Sawyer, Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Calvin Sedenu, Brendon Cass, Dean Ruddy.
Yellow cards: Connor Hood 10, Aaron Quain 54.

Sheppey United
Dean Warford, James Huggins, Karn Miller-Neave, Joseph Denny, Rob Saunders (c), George Batten (Ross Pagett 75), David Abe, Dan Bradshaw, Richard Atkins, Danny Walder, Timmy Babbington.
Subs (unused): Lee Friend, Lewis Gransden, John Ralph.
Goals: Richard Atkins 25, 48.
Yellow cards: Rob Saunders 8, Joseph Denny 59.
Red cards: Dan Bradshaw 62, Rob Saunders 87.

Attendance: 316
Referee: Scott Rudd
Assistants: Brian Woodhouse & Dan Friar

Sawyer Treble In Big Win

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday March 25 2017 15.00

Whitstable recorded their biggest win of the season, scoring seven without reply, against a Croydon team that had stunned title chasing Crowborough just four days earlier. Perhaps their efforts in achieving that win might go some way to explaining a rather lacklustre performance at the Belmont, as they had also held Whitstable to a creditable 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the month. They got off to a poor start when Kane Rowland scored an early goal from a corner and then Frankie Sawyer went on to claim a first half hat-trick. Croydon had a great opportunity to pull one back when they were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half time, but Kamelko Pope-Campbell saw his effort come back off the post. After the interval Rowland put away the rebound after Francis Ameyaw had parried a fierce drive from Aaron Quain and two late goals from substitute Newman Poku completed the scoring. Dan Eason in the home goal saw little action to warm him up on a very chilly, breezy afternoon on the Kent coast.

With the second leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final scheduled for Tuesday, this was potentially a tricky game for Whitstable who were still without a number of players, although the return of the captain Rob Gillman was a boost. Declan Kirk and Dan Smith started on the bench, having been promoted from the B team. The game was only 5 minutes old when Croydon failed to clear a Quain corner and Rowland was on hand to score at the near post.

Kane Rowland opens the scoring

It was nearly two just afterwards when some good play down the right released Connor Hood and he got into the box and pulled the ball back to Sawyer on the six yard line, but he lifted the ball way over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Sawyer lifts this chance over the top

He was soon to make up for the early miss though, scoring three times before the break. On 15 minutes Rowland collected the ball just outside the box and tried a shot that went low into a crowd of players, but deflected perfectly into the path of Sawyer who knocked it past Ameyaw into the far corner. On 32 minutes a poor back pass by Oscar Hall sold his goalkeeper short and the alert Sawyer nipped in, rounded Ameyaw and fired the ball into the unguarded net. The hat-trick was completed on 41 minutes when Craig Thompson played a nice pass through to Sawyer who shot past Ameyaw to make it 4-0.

Sawyer sees his first find the net
Number two for Sawyer
A hat-trick for Frankie Sawyer

In between the goals there were a few other chances for the dominant home side. Thompson had a couple of goal attempts and Ollie Lee shot wide after breaking into the box. Rowland was thwarted by Ameyaw after some good work by Sawyer and Thompson. Croydon had offered little by way of an attacking threat and won their only corner of the game on 39 minutes – Whitstable had eleven. The final piece of first half action though did give the visitors a great opportunity to get on the scoresheet. Harry Brockman sent the ball across from the left and Pope-Campbell went down as he battled for the ball by the goal line with Gillman and Quain. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty so Pope-Campbell stepped up and shot towards the bottom left corner, only to see the ball come back off the post where it was cleared away. Croydon were not to get a better chance.

Croydon hit the post from the penalty spot

Both teams made a change at half time, with Kirk coming on for his Whitstable debut in place of Calvin Sedenu and Wesley Bartlett replacing Hall for Croydon. Some early pressure from the home side almost got Sawyer and Rowland in again, then after another Quain corner Rowland had a shot blocked. On 59 minutes Quain was given too much space and hit a great left footed shot from way outside the box that Ameyaw did well to push away, only to see the ball fall into the path of Rowland who sent it back across goal into the far corner.

Number two for Rowland

Both teams made further substitutions, allowing Dan Smith to make his first appearance for Whitstable and Noir Gordon came on for Croydon. The pattern of play was little changed though and Sawyer struck a free kick just over after Thompson was fouled just outside the box. Sawyer had another couple of shots saved before being applauded off the pitch and replaced by Poku. On 78 minutes a long throw into the area by Kirk was not dealt with by the Croydon defence and Poku was on hand at the near post to score with his first touch.

Newman Poku beats Ameyaw for his first

After Croydon had made their final substitution, Poku was to score again on 86 minutes. A ball forward by Gillman somehow found its way through everyone leaving him free to take the ball around the stranded keeper to make it seven.

Poku makes it 7-0

Charlie Smith sent a late free kick into the wall and Thompson almost managed to add an eighth before the final whistle. It was one day at the seaside that Croydon will probably wish to forget.  Whitstable won 7-0 at Sporting Bengal in the Kent League Cup in October 2006, but there were not many big wins in the Ryman League years. The next visitors to the Belmont on Tuesday are Sheppey United and hopefully a big crowd to see if Whitstable can make it through to the cup final.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain (Dan Smith 64), Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c), Calvin Sedenu (Declan Kirk 46), Charlie Smith, Ollie Lee, Kane Rowland, Frankie Sawyer (Newman Poku 77), Craig Thompson.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Goals: Kane Rowland 5, 59, Frankie Sawyer 15, 32, 41, Newman Poku 78, 86.

Francis Ameyaw, Oscar Hall (Wesley Bartlett 46), Veejay Miller, Ibrahim Bah, Tolulope Jonah, Jamie McGeoghegan (c), Reiss Franklin (Cory Rose 78), Rohann Howell, Kamelko Pope-Campbell (Noir Gordon 60), Lauris Chin, Harry Brockman.
Sub (unused): Kenny Brockman

Attendance: 153
Referee: Jak Hill
Assistants: Brian Woodhouse & Paul Franks

Sawyer Scores Late Winner

SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday March 21 2017 19.45

A depleted Whitstable side recorded a narrow win over Corinthian in this rearranged fixture in front of their lowest league crowd of the season. Two well taken goals by Connor Hood and Frankie Sawyer, one in each half, proved just enough. Oscar Housego had equalised for the visitors early in the second half.

The home side were without a number of players through a combination of suspension, injury and unavailability. Louis Sprosen was included in the starting eleven having been signed this week. He has played for a number of clubs and actually lined up against Whitstable at Beckenham in October. It was the first league meeting between the two teams this season, although Whitstable did win 1-0 at Corinthian in the cup in January.

The game started quietly with few chances, although Dan Eason got down to make a comfortable early save and Charlie Smith blazed a long shot well wide at the other end. The first real opening came on 11 minutes when a ball through from midfield sent Conor Johnson clear, but he shot tamely  straight at Eason. Corinthian appealed for a penalty as Aaron Quain made a challenge just inside the box, but the referee was not interested.

Whitstable had created little, but on 23 minutes some more thoughtful play down the right ended with a Hood cross being touched behind for a corner by Joseph Hagan. A few minutes later Sawyer was left clear after Marcus Evans missed a high ball, but he was delayed by Hagan and his eventual shot went wide of the far post. A brief spell of pressure by Corinthian ended with Jack Bath shooting well over from the edge of the box. A Hood throw was flicked towards goal by the head of Craig Thompson, but the ball was easily held by Hagan. As the interval approached a good run by Housego was finally halted by Calvin Sedenu as he was about to shoot and then Josh James sent in a dangerous cross but there was nobody on hand to meet it. Whitstable took the lead on 43 minutes, somewhat against the run of play. Kane Rowland, playing in a deeper role, did well in midfield and found a good pass that set Hood free and he kept his head to lob neatly over the advancing Hagan and into the net.

Connor Hood opens the scoring

Whitstable manager Scott Porter made a change at half time replacing Sprosen, who had not played much football recently, with player coach Brendon Cass. The first notable action of the second half came on 52 minutes as Corinthian brought the scores level. A good through ball split the home defence and left Housego with just Eason to beat and he made no mistake, firing the ball into the top right hand corner of the net.

No way through this time

Rowland became the first name in the notebook when he was booked for a challenge on 55 minutes and then a foul off the ball by Luke Tanner saw him booked shortly afterwards. Johnson ran on to a pass from James and almost got in on goal, but a good challenge by Sedenu saw the ball out for a corner that was headed over the bar by Sam Groombridge. The game became very scrappy and all three officials gathered on the pitch after 70 minutes to try to sort out a lot of pushing and shoving with a number of players involved. Both captains were spoken to and the referee then dismissed one of the Corinthian technical area occupants. The visitors had passed the ball around quite well earlier in the game, but became increasingly petulant and there were a number of incidents for the overworked officials to attend to.

Tanner broke through the home defence but after being forced wide by Eason was unable to hit the target. Smith was then booked after an opponent went down rather easily when challenged by the corner flag. A limping Quain was substituted by Newman Poku as the game entered the final ten minutes and then, almost unexpectedly, a bit of quality put Whitstable back in front. Rowland was the provider once again when his ball over the defence sent Sawyer clear and although initially taking it a bit wide to the right, he managed to find the far corner with a good shot back across the goal.

Frankie Sawyer scores the winner

The visitors used all three substitutes, but rarely looked like finding another goal. At the start of seven added minutes Thompson was flattened just outside the penalty area, with Bath being booked for dissent afterwards. The free kick was taken by Sawyer and deflected wide for a corner. Whitstable then kept the ball in the corner for a couple of minutes and there was little further action although Thompson was shown a yellow card for delaying proceedings and finally Bath also talked himself into the book just before the final whistle.

The game contained three very well taken goals, but not much else in the way of good quality football. Corinthian played the neater football in the first half, but rarely troubled Eason and rather lost their way as the game progressed. Whitstable will be happy enough to claim the points with so many players unavailable.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain (Newman Poku 81), Tom Bryant (c), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Louis Sprosen (Brendon Cass 46), Charlie Smith, Kane Rowland, Frankie Sawyer, Craig Thompson.
Subs (unused): Harry Brooks, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Connor Hood 43, Frankie Sawyer 83.
Yellow cards: Kane Rowland 55, Charlie Smith 78, Craig Thompson 90+4.

Joseph Hagan, Bradley Large, Alexander Jack Billings, Jamie Billings, Marcus Evans, Sam Groombridge, Jack Bath (c), Josh James (Louis Clarke 87), Luke Tanner (Michael Hagan 90), Oscar Housego, Conor Johnson (Jordan Campbell 74).
Subs (unused): None
Goal: Oscar Housego 52
Yellow cards: Luke Tanner 60, Jamie Billings 90+1, Jack Bath 90+7.

Attendance: 91
Referee: Joe Kasper
Assistants: Chris Cannon & Daniel Barham

All Square After First Leg

Macron SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-final First Leg
Tuesday March 14 2017 19.45

A place in the final is still very possible for both teams after an exciting first leg at Sheppey in front of a crowd of 337. The home side won three early corners, but Whitstable gradually gained some control and had the better chances in the first half. The only goal before the break was a great strike into the top corner from distance by Connor Hood late in the half. A significant moment followed shortly afterwards as Whitstable captain Rob Gillman picked up an injury and had to be replaced. Sheppey were creating little and when Tom Bryant fired in a second early in the second half after a free kick was only partially cleared, Whitstable appeared to be in charge. This seemed to inspire Sheppey though as they began to press forward with more urgency and a Danny Walder free kick was deflected past Dan Eason by Kane Rowland to give them hope. The large home support had been fairly quiet, but now got behind their team and Richard Atkins ran on to a through ball and beat Eason a few minutes later to make it 2-2. The game then became quite open and Eason had to make a couple of vital saves as Sheppey went looking for a winner with Lee Friend making some good runs. Whitstable also had chances though and Bryant had a header cleared off the line and Frankie Sawyer put a great chance just wide, so the tie remains nicely poised.

Dan Eason in early action

Whitstable included new signing Frankie Sawyer in place of Regan Payne, who was ineligible having played for Lordswood earlier in the competition. Bola Dawodu also returned to the side. Sheppey were without their recently signed striker, Arlie Desanges, who had played against Whitstable in the previous round for Sutton Athletic. The opening 15 minutes were relatively quiet, although Sheppey tried to push forward with the majority of the large crowd behind them. Whitstable defended well against a few set pieces and Eason in goal was not troubled. James Morrish sent Hood away down the right and his pass to Charlie Smith was clipped over the bar from just outside the box. Whitstable started to knock the ball around with more confidence and won a couple of corners around the 20 minute mark. Rowland then headed the ball into the path of Sawyer, but his shot was just wide. The home side had a corner of their own on 27 minutes and Walder sent a dangerous ball across the Whitstable goal, but it was missed by everyone. A good cross by Aaron Quain was headed just over by Smith and then Quain fed Morrish, whose curling ball into the box was met by Sawyer but his header was off target. The opening goal arrived on 42 minutes as a Quain corner caused problems for the home defence and although the ball was scrambled away it was met by the advancing Hood around 30 yards from goal and his first time shot flew into the top corner past a helpless Dean Warford.

Connor Hood shoots
Dean Warford is beaten
A happy bench

Sheppey mounted an attack straight from the restart and whilst the final shot was off target, Gillman was injured in the build up and had to be substituted. George Batten was booked just before the interval for a foul on Morrish.

On 50 minutes Friend broke through on the Sheppey left but shot over and a couple of minutes later Smith won a free kick for Whitstable about 25 yards out. It was taken by Sawyer, blocked by Warford and then played back into the goalmouth, eventually falling nicely for Bryant who made no mistake from close range.

The free kick is blocked
Tom Bryant gets the second

It appeared that the visitors might have a good lead to take into the second leg, but to their credit Sheppey started to create a few openings and the reshuffled Whitstable defence suddenly looked vulnerable. A couple of Sheppey free kicks looked threatening, the first was scrambled away and the second was initially cleared but crossed back into the box by Karn Miller-Neave where Friend headed the ball straight at Eason. Timmy Babbington then turned and shot at the Whitstable goalkeeper. There were some shouts for a penalty as a home player went over in a crowded area, but the officials saw nothing wrong. On 69 minutes Sheppey got the bit of fortune they needed when a Walder free kick from just outside the area was hit low through the wall and appeared to take a big deflection off Rowland, leaving Eason stranded.

Eason then made a good double save as Friend got free but saw his effort blocked and David Abe picked up the rebound but his shot was also saved. Sheppey were soon level though when Atkins ran on to a through ball and shot low past the advancing Eason on 73 minutes. At the other end a Quain free kick found the head of Bryant but his attempt was cleared off the line and Ollie Lee followed in but saw his shot saved by Warford. Friend ran through the Whitstable defence again but was denied by Eason once more.

Dan Eason saves from Lee Friend

Rob Saunders was booked for a foul on Sawyer, who hit the resulting free kick into the wall. A mistake by Sedenu allowed Friend another opportunity but Lee got across to block. Into the final ten minutes another home header was deflected behind for a corner that was cleared. On 84 minutes Whitstable had a great chance to restore their lead when Dawodu found Sawyer with a cross field ball and with only Warford to beat his shot curled just wide of the near post. Dawodu was then brought down on the edge of the box as he shaped to shoot and the free kick, taken by Quain, was deflected behind for a corner. On 88 minutes Sawyer won the ball and passed to Smith who shot over. After 4 added minutes the referee, who had a good game, blew for time with the tie still level.

New signing Frankie Sawyer

It was an entertaining match played on a nice surface and both teams will wonder if they might have found a winner. Whitstable will rue letting a two goal lead slip away and Sheppey may wonder if they could have played with more urgency earlier in the game, but it should be an interesting night at the Belmont in the return fixture.

Sheppey United
Dean Warford, Danny Walder, Karn Miller-Neave, Joseph Fornah, Rob Saunders, George Batten, David Abe (Ross Pagett 81), Lee Friend, Richard Atkins, Ian Batten (c) (James Huggins 72), Timmy Babbington.
Subs (unused): Joseph Denny, Dan Bradshaw, John Ralph.
Goals: Kane Rowland (o.g.) 69, Richard Atkins 73.
Yellow cards: George Batten 45+2, Rob Saunders 80.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c) (Calvin Sedenu 45), Ollie Lee, Bola Dawodu, James Morrish, Kane Rowland, Frankie Sawyer, Charlie Smith (Jack Mahoney 89).
Subs (unused): Craig Thompson, Harry Brown, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Connor Hood 42, Tom Bryant 53.

Attendance: 337
Referee: Chris Myatt
Assistants: Jerry Annandale & Joe Dann-Pye