Late West Double Rescues Point

SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday December 5 2017 19.45

Whitstable left it late to earn a draw in this league match at the Belmont that was delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic problems on the M2. Despite Whitstable playing some promising football, particularly in the first half, Erith Town went ahead with a well taken goal in their first attack, as Ken Charles headed in a great Sidney Warden cross. Whitstable lost their captain Craig Cloke due to injury on 25 minutes, but although they continued to dominate possession and had one effort cleared off the line, they trailed by the single goal at the break. Some early pressure in the second half failed to yield a goal and then Erith doubled their lead when a corner was not cleared and substitute Ben Fitchett fired home. The visitors fought hard to defend their two goal advantage and frustration grew for Whitstable in a game littered with lengthy stoppages. Stuart West was pushed up front and found the top corner with a good strike on 77 minutes and shortly afterwards headed in a John Walker cross to bring the scores level. Jack Hooper was then sent off after a second caution, leaving Erith to see out the remaining time, including six added minutes, to claim a hard earned point.

Major delays on the motorway caused problems for both teams and officials before the game, which eventually started at 8 p.m. Chris Saunders was one of those affected, so started on the bench for Whitstable who did have James Morrish back after sitting out the previous game through illness. Erith Town were missing some regulars and included a number of Margate FC Under 23 and Maidstone United Academy players in their team.

Whitstable started on the attack, winning a couple of early corners with both Ricky Freeman and Josh Burchell having shots blocked. Danny Williams raced on to a through ball, before going down as he was tackled by the last defender on the edge of the box, but the officials ruled that it was a fair challenge. The game was in the 9th minute when Erith broke down the right and Margate youngster Warden sent over a perfect cross for the unmarked Charles to head back across goal past Dan Eason. It was well executed by the two young players, but a poor goal to concede for the home defence.

The remainder of the first half saw Whitstable striving to find a response and apart from one late corner, Erith did not threaten again before the interval. Although Whitstable moved the ball around quite well and got forward in wide positions, particularly down the left through Josh Burchell, the final ball into the box was often too close to former Sittingbourne goalkeeper Adam Molloy. A good Burchell cross in the 15th minute was met on the half volley by Walker whose shot went just over the bar. Lewis Scotter was cautioned for dissent, before Cloke picked up a painful looking muscle injury midway through the half and despite lengthy treatment on the pitch was unable to continue and Rob Gillman came on to replace him. Williams was off target with a couple of headers, but the closest the home side came to scoring was after 36 minutes. Hooper was booked after taking out Williams on the left and Murray swung the free kick into the box where there were a few seconds of pinball, with a Freeman effort cleared off the line and another attempt was scrambled away for a corner that fell to West, who shot over from close range.

John Walker hits an early shot just over
An acrobatic effort by Ricky Freeman
Erith clear off their line

Eason was mostly a distant spectator at the other end, but Erith did have a late corner that resulted in the ball being deflected just wide of the near post before Charlie Smith made a good run from midfield, only to blaze his shot over the top in the last action of the half.

The second half started in similar fashion, with Smith hooking the bar just over after it was helped on in the box by Williams and he then headed a Burchell cross wide. Just as in the first half, Whitstable were stunned by another goal out of the blue by the visitors. This time it came from a corner, when the defence failed to clear the ball and substitute Ben Fitchett, another Margate youngster who had only been on for a few seconds, drove the loose ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

Smith turned smartly in the box, but shot over and then won a free kick, but Williams was booked for his challenge on Molloy as Murray delivered the ball into the danger area. Saunders came on to replace Smith, before another long injury delay followed that resulted in the Erith skipper James Day having to be substituted by Tamer Bilal. Erith later made their final change bringing on Lewis Risk, as they looked to hang on for the win. Whitstable were finding it increasingly difficult to create chances and the smallest home crowd of the season had little to inspire them until West was sent to play further forward. Bilal was booked for a foul and as the free kick into the box was knocked down, it was West who caught the ball perfectly on the half volley and Molloy could do nothing as it flew into the top left corner of the net. Just three minutes later, a Whitstable build up on the right gave Walker the chance to put a good cross into the box and it was West again who rose to plant a header into the roof of the net to make it 2-2.

Stuart West strikes the ball towards goal
The ball flies into the top corner
West gets his head to a cross
The ball beats Adam Molloy and it’s 2-2

As the home side pressed for a winner, Hooper committed a foul just outside the penalty area and although the referee tried to play the advantage, he eventually pulled play back for a free kick and showed a second yellow card to the Erith defender. Williams struck the free kick into the wall and Murray lifted the rebound over the top. Williams, West and Burchell all had late efforts saved by Molloy. There was a heated debate on the touchline about the amount of stoppage time to be added, but there was to be no late winner and the final whistle eventually sounded after six additional minutes.

The point pushed Whitstable up to sixth place, but it was a game they would feel they should have won. The young Erith team scored from their only two goal attempts, defended well and Whitstable were largely disappointing in their efforts to score themselves despite having nearly all of the possession. Next up is a visit to Corinthian at the weekend, before AFC Croydon visit the Belmont on Tuesday, as the search for league points at the top of the table continues.

Whitstable Erith Town
17 Attempts 2
7 On Target 2
9 Corners 2
2 Offside 0
8 Free Kicks Won 10

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c) (Rob Gillman 25), Tom Bryant, Charlie Smith (Chris Saunders 66), James Morrish, Ricky Freeman (Louis Sprosen 90), Danny Williams, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Teddy Nelson, Ryan Birch.
Goals: Stuart West 77, 80.
Yellow card: Danny Williams 64

Erith Town
Adam Molloy, Lewis Scotter, Dan Palfrey, James Day (c) (Tamer Bilal 68), Myles Keizer-Burrows, Jack Hooper, Sidney Warden, Jack Duffy, Ken Charles, Adem Ramadan (Lewis Risk 76), Osman Proni (Ben Fitchett 54).
Subs (unused): Harrison Hume, Peter Dale.
Goals: Ken Charles 9, Ben Fitchett 55.
Yellow cards: Lewis Scotter 23, Tamer Bilal 76.
Red card: Jack Hooper 81 (two yellows 36, 81)

Attendance: 96
Referee: Stuart Marriott
Assistants: Matthew Sell & Danny Roberts

Academy Game Postponed

Unfortunately, the Whitstable Academy fixture at home to Ebbsfleet United scheduled for today has been postponed. Ebbsfleet pulled out of the game at very short notice this morning.

Early Goals End Vase Run

Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Saturday December 2 2017 15.00

Whitstable were dumped out of the FA Vase for the second consecutive season by Chichester City, but this time there was no extra time and replay needed as the Sussex side scored two early goals and then put in a solid defensive display to secure their place in the last 32 of the competition. Hesitant defending allowed Josh Clack the time and space to find the far corner in the 2nd minute and then Scott Jones was able to run through and double the lead after 6 minutes, as the home side waited for an offside flag. Jones put one other good chance wide and Whitstable picked up several yellow cards as they struggled to deal with the pace of the visitors in the first half an hour. Whitstable did have a goal ruled out when an assistant spotted a raised arm in the box and then missed two great chances before the interval. The Chichester goalkeeper, Anthony Ender, just managed to keep out a fierce strike from Macauley Murray at the start of the second half and Whitstable then had most of the ball, but rarely looked like scoring as Chichester held on with relative comfort to the delight of their supporters.

Whitstable came into this match following six consecutive wins, but were unable to play the cup tied Chris Saunders and injured Shaun Welford. Danny Williams and Rob Gillman returned to the squad after recovering from their injuries, but a late team change had to be made just before the kick off with the unwell James Morrish being replaced in the starting eleven by Gillman and Stuart West moving into midfield. Chichester also had a few absentees, with recent signing Scott Murfin cup tied, Lorenzo Dolcetti injured and Ellis Martin and Ruben French suspended. Their recent winning run has carried them into second place in their league.

The first chance fell to Ricky Freeman, as he ran on to a good pass from Murray, but the Whitstable striker sent his shot just over the bar. However the ball was soon at the other end and, as the home defence failed to deal with a ball into the box, Clack was allowed to collect it and shoot past Dan Eason into the bottom right hand corner to give his team a very early lead.

Ricky Freeman almost gives Whitstable a first minute lead
Josh Clack (far left) scores for Chichester

It was soon to get worse for the home team when Dave Herbert played the ball through the Whitstable defence and Scott Jones found himself with only Eason to beat and he took the ball forward and easily slotted it past the helpless keeper. Some observers felt that Jones looked offside, but there were few complaints from the Whitstable players, who were left with a mountain to climb after only 6 minutes.

A free kick was swung in from the left and met by the head of West, but the ball was beaten away from just inside the far post for a corner by Ender. Jones almost managed to reach a Clack cross at the other end, but the ball went harmlessly out for a goal kick. The game then went through a quiet spell, unlike off the pitch where both sets of supporters were doing their best to out sing each other. On 20 minutes a push by Murray in midfield led to a Chichester free kick that was taken by Clack and helped on by Hegarty, but once more just out of the reach of Jones. Whitstable thought they had pulled a goal back on 23 minutes when John Walker was chopped down on the right by Kieran Hartley, who saw the first yellow card, and a good Burchell free kick was glanced over Ender into the roof of the net. The assistant raised his flag and after some discussion a free kick was awarded to Chichester for a hand ball against Freeman, who had jumped with Hartley, both with an arm raised at the near post.

Anthony Ender keeps a header out
The ball ended in the net, but was ruled out (difficult to see who got the touch)

Whitstable then had three players booked in five minutes as frustration grew, with Freeman, West and Walker all committing fouls deemed worthy of cautions by the referee. Chichester had one further good chance to increase their lead on 33 minutes, when Jones got clear again but his right footed shot curled just wide of the right hand post. Burchell sent in a good cross that was knocked down into the path of Tom Bryant, but he dragged his shot wide with just Ender to beat and another Burchell effort was just tipped over by Ender as it was heading for the top corner. In added time a Murray free kick was headed across goal by Charlie Smith to Gillman who was not able to beat the diving Ender with a downward header from six yards.

An aerial battle
The ball goes just wide, as another chance is missed
Rob Gillman heads for goal, but can’t beat Ender

Despite the two early goals conceded, Whitstable had created several decent chances, but had not been able to take them and so came out for the second half still with a lot to do. An early swerving shot by Murray from distance was just parried by Ender and although Freeman was first to the rebound, his shot was too high.

A Murray shot is pushed away by Ender

Some good play by Freeman on the right created the space for him to deliver a cross that Smith headed wide. Whitstable were seeing a lot of the ball in the Chichester half and a useful Walker cross was headed out for a corner by Jack Lee. Whitstable then made a change, bringing on striker Danny Williams for Louis Sprosen. Burchell became the fourth home player to be cautioned, before a Gillman cross was headed just wide. Kaleem Haitham was substituted by Rob Hutchings, who set up Herbert on 74 minutes and his shot that went just over the bar was the first goal attempt by Chichester of the second half. West rode several challenges to get to the edge of the box but shot wide and shortly afterwards he tried again with a similar result. Freeman went down in the box, before a header by Williams was saved by Ender. As Whitstable pressed to try to find an elusive goal, Chichester had a couple of sights of goal on the break. Eason had to be alert to block when Herbert almost stole in and Ben Pashley was off target after a free kick had been partially cleared. Herbert went off and was replaced by Luke Killner as the game drifted to a close. In the 5 added minutes, Smith fired a shot into the side netting, prior to collecting the final booking of the match.

The FA Vase campaign is over for Whitstable after some entertaining games, three of which resulted in extra time victories. They fought hard until the end and Chichester certainly knew that they had been in a game afterwards, but somehow after the two early goals, there was an inevitable feeling about the outcome and Chichester deserved to take their place in the next round. For Whitstable, Tuesday night sees the return to action in the league, where they are still well placed. There remains the suspicion though that there are still some missing ingredients, which will be needed to get results against the best teams.

Whitstable Chichester
14 Attempts 5
6 On Target 2
5 Corners 0
1 Offside 5
8 Free Kicks Won 21

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Louis Sprosen (Danny Williams 61), Rob Gillman, Ricky Freeman, Charlie Smith, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): James Morrish, Brendon Cass, Rhys Brain, Ryan Birch.
Yellow cards: Ricky Freeman 27, Stuart West 30, John Walker 31, Josh Burchell 68, Charlie Smith 90+1.

Chichester City
Anthony Ender, Dan Watts, Kieran Hartley, Ben Pashley, Jack Lee (c), Harry Williams, Josh Clack, Dan Hegarty, Scott Jones, Dave Herbert (Luke Killner 86), Kaleem Haitham (Rob Hutchings (71).
Subs (unused): Lewis Turnbull, Sam Ndlovu, Tafadzwa Kanjanda.
Goals: Josh Clack 2, Scott Jones 6.
Yellow card: Kieran Hartley 23

Attendance: 170
Referee: Robert Claussen
Assistants: Steven Marr & Paul Humphries

FA Vase Game Today

Whitstable bid to reach the last 32 of the Buildbase FA Vase today, as they entertain Chichester City in the Third Round. Both teams come into the game in good form in their respective leagues, with Whitstable having won their last six games and Chichester their last four without conceding a goal. Whitstable have already beaten Lancing and Saltdean United from the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division in the competition, whereas Chichester, who currently sit in second place in that league, knocked out Deal Town 3-0 in the last round.

The two teams also met in the First Qualifying Round of the same competition last season, when the game at the Belmont finished 2-2 after extra time. Chichester won an eventful midweek replay when a weakened Whitstable team were leading 2-1 with the hosts down to ten men, but the Sussex side fought back to win 3-2.

Should the game at the Belmont finish level this time after 90 minutes, extra time will be played under the rules of the competition, but there will not be a penalty shoot out and if necessary the replay will be at Chichester next Saturday.

Christmas Draw 2017

The Christmas Draw tickets are on sale at the Belmont Ground if anyone would like to take part. They cost £1 each and are available in the clubhouse or alternatively from members of the committee. There are some very good prizes once again and the draw will be made after the home match against Crowborough Athletic on Saturday 23rd December, when the club are organising a party in the evening for the players, management, committee and supporters. There will be more news on this to follow, but please make a note of the date if you would like to come.

SCEFL Challenge Cup Draw

The draw for the Third Round of the SCEFL Challenge Cup has now been published on the SCEFL website and Whitstable have a home fixture against Lydd Town or Croydon, whose Second Round tie is scheduled for December 6th.

The full draw for the Third Round is given below, with matches due to be played during the month of January.

Chatham Town v Snodland Town
Cray Valley PM v Sporting Club Thamesmead
Crowborough Athletic or Canterbury City v AFC Croydon Athletic
Erith Town v Hollands and Blair
K Sports v Tunbridge Wells
Stansfeld v Lordswood or Fisher
Sutton Athletic v Deal Town
Whitstable Town v Lydd Town or Croydon