Late Smith Goal Earns Point

SCEFL Premier Division
Wednesday April 18 2018 19.45

A great overhead kick by Charlie Smith in the closing minutes rescued a point for Whitstable after a determined Canterbury City had threatened to end their long unbeaten record. A large number of travelling supporters, who helped Canterbury to their highest attendance of the season, saw their team start slowly after a punishing schedule of games. In a physical game of few chances, Canterbury took an early lead with their best move of the evening when Jordan Casey fired the ball past Dan Eason, who just managed to deflect a Wayne Wilson free kick on to the bar a few minutes later. Whitstable gradually got into the game and Shaun Welford equalised from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the box. A dreadful tackle by Jamie Maxted sparked an angry confrontation just before the break, as things threatened to boil over. Whitstable put Canterbury under pressure for most of the second half without creating many clear chances, as former Oysterman Laurence Harvey stood firm at the back, although Tom Bryant hit the post following a free kick. It was the home team however that took the lead again when a free kick eventually fell to Wilson and he flicked the ball over Dan Eason and just under the bar. Louis Sprosen went close to an equaliser before Smith had the final say to produce probably a fair result on the night.

Dan Eason, John Walker, Tom Bryant and Shaun Welford returned to the Whitstable team, having missed the game against Rochester 48 hours earlier. Danny Williams was still suspended and Rob Gillman was away. Canterbury had several ex Whitstable players in their team, including former manager Wayne Wilson, whilst striker Jordan Casey was making his first appearance for several months.

Canterbury had the better of the first 25 minutes, as Whitstable started poorly and it looked as though the number of recent games was perhaps catching up with the players. There were no real chances in the opening stages, but Wilson sent a free kick over the bar from 30 yards. In the 12th minute, Canterbury opened the scoring with a neat piece of play and Luke Griffiths slipped the ball through for Casey to shoot low past Eason.

Dan Eason is beaten as Canterbury take the lead

There was almost an instant response, as Welford helped the ball on for Freeman and with Delo off his line, the striker chipped the ball over him and the last defender, but it went over the unguarded net. Stuart West then headed a Macauley Murray free kick right across goal, but it went just past the far post with no other Whitstable player close enough to get a touch. Canterbury were still causing problems at the other end and on 22 minutes, Wilson swung over another long dipping free kick from the left and Eason just managed to get a touch on the ball to push it on to the bar. Casey went close again, but shot wide and then Wilson had an effort saved by Eason low down, just inside the post.

Ricky Freeman sees his lob go over the bar
Dan Eason touches a Wayne Wilson free kick on to the bar

Whitstable were slowly improving and after a good move down the right, Chris Saunders shot wide when under pressure from the last defender. Josh Burchell delivered another cross and Welford challenged for the ball and then chased after it as it ran away to the left, where he was brought down and the referee gave a penalty. Welford took it himself, firing the ball into the bottom left hand corner just out of reach of the diving Delo and Whitstable were back on terms after 33 minutes. There was little further action of note for the remainder of the half until the 42nd minute when Maxted jumped into a dangerous challenge on Murray right in front of the away bench. Following the inevitable bout of pushing and shoving that followed as Murray received treatment, the referee showed the Canterbury left back a yellow card, when many felt it should have been a straight red. The teams went in at half time with the scores level, with everything to play for after the break.

Shaun Welford was brought down for the Whitstable penalty
Welford takes the spot kick
Jack Delo is beaten in the bottom corner
The players discuss the foul by Jamie Maxted on Macauley Murray

The visitors started better in the second half and several long throws by Welford gave Canterbury some defending to do in the first few minutes, with Delo getting his hand to one header across the box. Whitstable twice went close following a Murray free kick as Bryant and West challenged at the far post, with the former appearing to get to the ball first, but the header rebounded off the post and as he followed in, the ball just went the wrong side of the post. Murray delivered another free kick straight into the hands of Delo, as Whitstable continued to press forward. Saunders became the only Whitstable player to be cautioned when Rob Lawrence was brought down in the 64th minute.

Jack Delo gets a hand to this header
Whitstable hit the post
Tom Bryant tries to tuck the rebound away
The ball goes just wide

The game became a bit of an aerial battle, as both teams seemed happy to launch the ball backwards and forwards, with Harvey winning a lot of headers in the home defence. Canterbury had created little since the restart, but a rebound off Matt Martin fell to Wilson on the left of the box, but his shot flew right across towards the far corner flag from a narrow angle. It was the Canterbury midfielder though who put them back in front on 71 minutes when a deep free kick was not properly cleared and Wilson flicked the ball back towards goal and it dropped over Eason and into the net. Shortly afterwards, Welford went down in the box as he challenged for a cross, but the referee waved away the appeals for a second penalty. Pat Nzuzi was booked for a poor challenge on the touchline as Whitstable continued to look for a second equaliser.

Another Wilson free kick from 25 yards sailed over the bar, before Whitstable brought on Smith for Welford. On 81 minutes, a snap shot by Lawrence from the edge of the box went wide of the left post. Whitstable sent on Sprosen and then Teddy Nelson, with the tall, young defender being given an unfamiliar role up front. With a couple of minutes remaining, Sprosen picked up a loose ball just outside the box and fired a shot just over the bar. Whitstable won a series of free kicks around the box and from one of these, Murray curled the ball in from the left and West rose with Maxted at the near post. As the ball came across goal, Smith tried an overhead kick and connected perfectly to send the ball into the back of the net, sparking celebrations behind the goal and around the ground by the numerous visiting supporters. Whitstable continued to throw everything forward in added time, with Canterbury doing their best to wind down the clock and making a late substitution. When a Burchell free kick was cleared, the final whistle sounded and the teams had a point each.

A late free kick is flicked on
Charlie Smith gets a perfect connection on his overhead kick
It’s 2-2 and the unbeaten run continues

The result felt about right on the night and Whitstable were happy to remain unbeaten in 2018, despite the loss of two important points in what was always likely to be a tricky fixture. They now face 5 games in the final 10 days of the season, but will have Williams and Gillman back to boost the squad for the final push.

Canterbury Whitstable
9 Attempts 10
4 On Target 2
0 Corners 1
3 Offside 1
15 Free Kicks Won 17

Canterbury City
Jack Delo, Gary Sayer, Jamie Maxted, Wayne Wilson, Laurence Harvey (c), Will Hadler, Pat Nzuzi, Luke Griffiths, Jordan Casey, Rob Lawrence, Matt Martin (Tom Barton 90+3).
Subs (unused): Robel Grant, Billy Lewins, Josh McCallum, Ryan Catmull.
Goals: Jordan Casey 13, Wayne Wilson 71.
Yellow cards: Jamie Maxted 43, Pat Nzuzi 75.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders (Louis Sprosen 82), James Morrish (Teddy Nelson 85), Ricky Freeman, Shaun Welford (Charlie Smith 78), Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Owen Fitt, Nick Shaw.
Goals: Shaun Welford 33, Charlie Smith 89.
Yellow card: Chris Saunders 64

Attendance: 149
Referee: Daniel Procter
Assistants: Daniel Barham & Andrei Neda

10 Wins In 27 Days For Town

SCEFL Premier Division
Monday April 16 2018 19.45

Whitstable continued their quest for the treble, scoring three goals without reply, against bottom of the table Rochester United. This was the 10th consecutive win in the space of 27 days and extended the unbeaten run to 23 matches. After a lively start, Whitstable were gifted the first goal when Charlie Smith helped the ball on and a Rochester defender tried a back pass, but only succeeded in striking the ball low and hard past his own goalkeeper from around 25 yards. James Morrish added a second with a good left footed finish a few minutes later. Ricky Freeman ballooned the ball over the bar on the stroke of half time with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Stuart West headed in a corner shortly after the restart to make sure of the points. Despite their lowly league position, Rochester caused a few problems for the home defence with some pacy runs and Nick Shaw, who replaced Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal, had to make three great interceptions to prevent them scoring. A late Macauley Murray free kick struck the post, but with just two days until the next match, thoughts were already turning elsewhere.

This was the first meeting between the two sides this season, as a consequence of earlier postponements. Dan Eason sat out his first game of the season, with Nick Shaw pulling on a Whitstable shirt for the first time in five years. John Walker, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant and Danny Williams were also missing for various reasons, with Josh Burchell, Craig Cloke, Teddy Nelson and Charlie Smith returning to the team. Rochester United came into the game 12 points adrift at the foot of the table and with only 3 league wins all season, but had achieved creditable draws against Chatham and Cray Valley during March.

Rochester won an early corner, but Whitstable soon started to create chances. Freeman swept the ball across from left to right for Louis Sprosen, who played in Morrish, but his shot hit the side netting. After Morrish had tried again with a shot that was too high, West headed a Murray corner just over. Rochester always carried a threat on the break and Shingirai Chiriseri made a promising run down the right and whipped the ball across the box, but there was no one there to get on the end of it. Smith rose to flick the ball on and Jack Healey tried to pass it back to his goalkeeper from outside the box, but hit it too firmly and it went straight into the net to gift Whitstable the lead in the 12th minute.

James Morrish is just wide with this early effort

Jai McKinlay tried a long shot that was easily saved by Shaw, but then in the 20th minute a poor Rochester clearance went straight to Freeman, who crossed from the right. Smith knocked the ball down to the edge of the area, where Morrish struck a left footed shot into the right hand corner of the net, just out of reach of the diving Tony Coxall.

Charlie Smith wins the aerial challenge
James Morrish scores the second

Luke Saggers was presented with a sight of goal at the other end, but shot straight at Shaw. It was then Morrish who tried again, but this time he was denied by Coxall and the resulting corner from Murray was cleared off the line, leading to a quick break by the visitors that Whitstable did well to block. Freeman, Burchell and West all had attempts to add a third goal, before Rochester won the ball on the halfway line and sent Merrick Simms clear, but Shaw did really well to come out and save at his feet. In the last minute before half time, Smith challenged for a high ball and it fell invitingly for Freeman, but just as he looked like adding to the lead, he lifted his shot high into the night sky. There was still time for Burchell to head a Sprosen cross over the bar, before the teams went in with the score still 2-0.

This attempt is a little off target

Just a couple of minutes into the second half, a corner from the right taken by Burchell was headed in from close range by West. From this point on, the game felt like it was drifting to an inevitable home win and both teams started making substitutions. Whitstable soon introduced Shaun Welford, then Owen Fitt and Rhys Brain and Rochester also tried to change things around.

Stuart West is first to the ball
It’s 3-0 to Whitstable

Welford helped to create a chance for Fitt, but he shot over. Smith became the only home player to be cautioned following a poor tackle in midfield. On 77 minutes, Shaw was quickly out again to make a save on the edge of the box as Chandler Kasai raced clear of the home defence. Fitt made a bit of room for himself before shooting just wide and then Sprosen was pulled down 20 yards from goal, earning a booking for Ralph Katikaza. Murray took the free kick and was unlucky to see the ball strike the inside of the post and rebound to safety.

Nick Shaw does well to deny Chandler Kasai a consolation goal
Macauley Murray takes a free kick
The ball comes back off the post

Brain had a shot saved after running on to a Welford header. There were a couple of late chances for a consolation Rochester goal. Dan Nash rolled a free kick into the path of Owen Price who sent his shot way over the top and there was one more dangerous break by Kasai, but his shot was once again well saved by the alert Shaw.

The Rochester goalkeeper made the final save of the match when he collected a deflected shot by Sprosen in last added minute, leaving the score at 3-0 and another three points were banked. Canterbury await on Wednesday, as the crazy end of season fixture list continues. With 38 league matches during the 9 month season, 12 of them will have been played during the final 31 days.

Whitstable Rochester
22 Attempts 5
9 On Target 3
6 Corners 4
1 Offside 0
9 Free Kicks Won 9

Whitstable Town
Nick Shaw, Louis Sprosen, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Teddy Nelson, Chris Saunders (Rhys Brain 75), James Morrish (Owen Fitt 65), Ricky Freeman (Shaun Welford 56), Charlie Smith, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Tom Bryant, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Jack Healey o.g. 12, James Morrish 20, Stuart West 47.
Yellow card: Charlie Smith 73

Rochester United
Tony Coxall, Dan Nash (c), Ralph Katikaza, Marlou Peter-Brown, Freeman Rogers, Jack Healey (Donnell Anderson 65), Jai McKinlay, Jamie Rawsthorne, Shingirai Chiriseri (Owen Price 59), Luke Saggers (Chandler Kasai 67), Merrick Simms.
Sub (unused): Darren Onslow
Yellow card: Ralph Katikaza 84

Attendance: 116
Referee: Zoltan Konkoly
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Ryan Andrew

Fourth Win In Seven Days

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 14 2018 15.00

A testing week, that started with an extra time cup final win, followed by a battle with Glebe and a difficult trip to Crowborough, came to an end in the tranquil surroundings of Jockey Farm on a sunny afternoon. After the intensity of the game on Thursday evening, Whitstable took a while to get going against relegation threatened Rusthall, with the chief goal threat coming from set pieces and Stuart West saw one header cleared off the line and also had an effort ruled out for offside. Dan Hanshaw and Steph Harper both had good chances for Rusthall, before Ricky Freeman finished well after a knock down to give Whitstable the lead on 38 minutes. Dan Eason superbly tipped a Harper drive over the bar just before the break. Whitstable created more chances in the second half, but struggled to hit the target and Harper should have equalised on 60 minutes, but missed from close range. Danny Williams finally settled the nerves when he won a penalty, then tucked away the rebound after Callum Christie had initially saved his spot kick. Chris Saunders soon added a third, allowing Whitstable to coast through the last 20 minutes to their ninth straight win.

Manager Scott Porter named the same eleven that had won at Crowborough less than 48 hours earlier. Craig Cloke made a return as a substitute after an injury lay off, whilst Josh Burchell was still suspended. Rusthall have recently slipped into the bottom two, so need some points to ensure they remain in this division for more than just one season. The reverse fixture at the Belmont resulted in a 2-0 home win, although fewer than half of the Rusthall team from that day started here.

The first half was a fairly even affair that contained a few chances for both teams. Freeman shot wide on the turn, when he was left in space in the box in the 3rd minute, then Tom Bryant and West each got their head to corners, but neither were on target. Sloppy defending left Hanshaw free on the edge of the penalty area, but he lifted his shot over the bar with just Eason to beat. Rusthall had a good spell, winning two corners and shooting wide on a couple of occasions. In the 21st minute, John Walker burst into the box and won a corner on the right that was taken by Macauley Murray, in the absence of Burchell. West rose highest and headed the ball towards goal, but it was cleared off the line by Stuart Thorley. The next Whitstable corner was partially cleared, but when the ball came back into the box, it was headed down and West put it in the net, only to be denied by an offside flag.

Stuart West heads towards goal
The ball is cleared off the line
Stuart West has one ruled out for offside

Freeman was booked following a challenge on the home goalkeeper. On 31 minutes, the former Burgess Hill and Folkestone striker, Harper created a chance for himself on the edge of the box, but Eason was able to make the save. Whitstable had not been at their best, but opened the scoring when a Murray free kick from the right was swung into the box and after Whitstable had won a couple of challenges the ball dropped nicely for the in-form Freeman to sweep home from about 8 yards.

Ricky Freeman is about to pounce on the loose ball
Whitstable lead 1-0

Shortly afterwards, Freeman brought the ball down on his chest and shot over the bar, then Rob Gillman and Louis Sprosen combined to create another opening for Freeman, but he volleyed over again. In added time, Harper once more found himself with just Eason to beat, but the Whitstable keeper pulled off a great save, tipping a well struck shot just over the bar. The resulting corner was headed wide by Daniel Mitchell and the home team were perhaps a little unfortunate to trail 1-0 at the break.

Immediately after the restart, a good break by Freeman and Williams created a chance for Walker, but he dragged his shot just wide of the far post. After an injury delay, while the Rusthall keeper Callum Christie received treatment, Walker shot wide in similar fashion, as he was played in again by the two Whitstable strikers. On 57 minutes, Saunders was fouled by Luke Stratford as he released the ball, but the referee played a good advantage, leaving Freeman time to line up a shot, but he sent the ball past the foot of the left post and Stratford was subsequently cautioned for the foul. The injured Thorley was then substituted by Dan Kommu and he almost made an instant impact as his left wing cross was helped on by Hanshaw, but Harper drove the ball the wrong side of the near post when he seemed certain to score. Rusthall would not get a better chance.

John Walker shoots just wide

Sprosen had two efforts following the next Whitstable corner, the first being blocked and then, as the ball came back to him, he curled a shot just wide. After a brief spell of pressure from the home team, Freeman pulled the ball back for Saunders, who struck the right hand post from inside the 6 yard box. On 70 minutes, Sprosen played the ball down the left to Freeman, who crossed to Williams and he was fouled as he was about to shoot and the referee awarded a penalty. Williams hit it low down the middle, where it was kept out by the legs of Christie, but the Whitstable striker was able to fire home the rebound.

Chris Saunders hits the post
Callum Christie saves the penalty with his legs
Danny Williams follows in to score

Cloke made his playing return when he came on to replace Bryant for the last 20 minutes. In the 73rd minute a Rusthall free kick was well defended by Gillman and Whitstable struck again on the break. Williams raced away and picked out James Morrish, whose shot was saved by Christie. The ball was soon back in the box however and this time Saunders made no mistake, finding the far corner to make it 3-0.

Chris Saunders shoots across goal
Whitstable have their third goal

The points were safe, but there were a few more chances at both ends and each team made use of their three substitutes. Mitchell was booked for a challenge on Sprosen. Kommu and Harper had further attempts for Rusthall, but Eason was not seriously tested. Cloke and West were both too high with efforts, before Freeman carved out a good chance for Whitstable substitute Shaun Welford, but his shot also went over the bar. In added time, Williams made a great run from his own half down the left to win a corner, which was eventually headed over by West and then Teddy Nelson glanced a Murray free kick just wide.

Another win for Whitstable

The win was comfortable enough in the end, but Rusthall did have a few opportunities that they failed to take and Whitstable will be pleased to have kept their great run going after a busy week. Things do not get any easier however with 7 more league games to play in the final 15 days of the season.

Rusthall Whitstable
12 Attempts 22
4 On Target 7
5 Corners 9
0 Offside 4
13 Free Kicks Won 11

Callum Christie, Daniel Mitchell, Stuart Thorley (Dan Kommu 59), Paul Butler (c), Stewart Gostlow, Luke Stratford, Matt Hathway, Jack Humphrey, Daniel Hanshaw (George Rogers 79), Steph Harper, Joe Fuller (Ryan Waterman 68).
Sub (unused): James Jordan
Yellow cards: Luke Stratford 57, Daniel Mitchell 76.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Louis Sprosen, Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (Craig Cloke 70), Chris Saunders (Teddy Nelson 76), James Morrish (c) (Shaun Welford 80), Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Owen Fitt, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Ricky Freeman 38, Danny Williams 70, Chris Saunders 73.
Yellow card: Ricky Freeman 26

Attendance: 102
Referee: Nick Fruin
Assistants: Danny Geary & Liam Vitoria

Freeman Shoots Down Crows

SCEFL Premier Division
Thursday April 12 2018 19.45

Whitstable came through a difficult test at Crowborough, with a hard fought 1-0 win being enough to move them into second place in the table at the expense of their opponents. It was their 8th straight win in the last 23 days and extends the unbeaten run to 21 games. Whitstable began the better, with Dan Ellis saving well from Macauley Murray. The Crows gradually started to push Whitstable back and a header struck the underside of the bar following a free kick. The decisive moment came in the 34th minute when Ricky Freeman got away and finished superbly into the far corner. He could have added a second on the stroke of half time when he raced clear again and chipped the ball over the advancing Ellis, but failed to find the net. The second half was a story of steadily building pressure from the home side, although Whitstable had a few chances on the break, with Ellis somehow getting in the way of a fierce strike by Danny Williams. The final 10 minutes saw Crowborough throw everything at Whitstable, who defended heroically. There were a couple of penalty appeals that failed to impress the excellent referee and several scrambles in the box, but goalkeeper Dan Eason, who dealt confidently with anything that came his way, only had a couple of efforts on target to save, so well did the team defend in front of him.

Four Whitstable players who were rested from the starting eleven against Glebe on Tuesday returned to the team for this important game between the sides in second and third place, as the league campaign entered its last few weeks. Josh Burchell, who had scored in the previous two games, was serving the first of a two game ban. It was a 1-0 win at the Belmont back in December, when these two teams last met, that was the first game of the current long unbeaten run. A late James Morrish goal was the decider, although Crowborough rarely looked like scoring on that occasion and a tougher encounter was expected in this return fixture.

The home team were slow to get into their stride and Jack Turner was booked for stopping a through ball with his hand after just 4 minutes. Murray forced Dan Ellis into a good save from the free kick as the big keeper got across to turn the ball around the post and then Stuart West headed the corner over the bar. Whitstable continued to win most of the loose balls in midfield and earned two more corners, with Williams having a shot deflected wide. The Crows first threatened on 10 minutes when a quick break released Sam Carrington down the left and he tried to beat Eason from distance, but the ball went past the far post. That seemed to kick start the home team and they went close when Henry Muggeridge swung a dangerous free kick into the box and it looked as though it was Carrington who got his head to the ball first, as he made a run to the near post. The ball hit the bar and bounced down before being cleared.

Macauley Murray takes an early free kick
Dan Ellis makes the save
Stuart West heads over the top
The ball is headed towards the Whitstable goal from a free kick
The ball comes back off the bar

A few minutes later, another corner caused problems when the ball was stabbed back towards the goal, but the Whitstable defence hooked the ball off the line. The Whitstable front two, Freeman and Williams, always carried a threat with their pace and energy and Freeman had a header saved by Ellis after his strike partner had picked him out with a good cross. A speculative shot by Marcus Goldsmith was caught by Eason, whose positioning and handling were good throughout. Louis Sprosen was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Goldsmith in the 32nd minute. A clearance by Eason led to Whitstable taking the lead when the ball bounced past a couple of players and Freeman spun away from his marker and hit the ball early with his right foot past Ellis before he had time to react and the ball nestled in the right hand corner of the net.

Ricky Freeman watches his shot head towards the goal
The ball flies into the far corner for the winning goal

There were few chances created in the final 10 minutes of the half, until Dan Tear failed to cut out a forward pass and Freeman found himself with only Ellis to beat. He chose to lob the ball over the advancing keeper, but was off target and a great chance to go in at half time with a two goal lead was missed. Apart from the two good opportunities, Crowborough had not really disturbed a strong Whitstable defence.

Ricky Freeman chases the ball down the touchline

Early in the second half, a good cross by Sam Cole was glanced just past the far post by Carrington and Murray was booked for a challenge on Goldsmith, who was substituted by Wayne Clarke shortly afterwards. Great defending by Tom Bryant stopped a couple of Crowborough attacks, then following a corner the ball was played  into the box by Muggeridge and deflected towards goal, but Eason managed to get a hand to it and push it away. The home team were pushing forward with more urgency this half, but Whitstable were generally coping well with Bryant, West and Rob Gillman outstanding at the back and Williams and Freeman working hard whenever the ball was played up to them. A John Walker cross was headed wide by Williams and Freeman did well to hold the ball up and try to find Williams, but a good defensive header cleared the danger.

Murray limped off after 69 minutes to be replaced by Charlie Smith and Adrian Stone came on for Crowborough as they started to pump a lot more balls into the Whitstable box. Gillman was booked for a foul on the right touchline and the free kick was headed well wide by Tear. Freeman flicked the ball into the path of Williams, who struck a fierce shot from the left of the penalty area that hit Ellis on the chest and rebounded to safety. Whitstable were getting chances on the break as the home side left fewer defenders back and another run by Williams was halted just as he was about to shoot, then Freeman won a corner when his attempted cross was cut out. Shaun Welford replaced Freeman for the last few minutes.

Tom Bryant and Stuart West are determined to clear the ball

Crowborough won a free kick in a dangerous position in the 88th minute, but the shot from Solomon Taiwo was deflected off the wall and over the bar. The tiring Williams made a final run and was about to pull the trigger when Turner made a timely block. There were six added minutes that were spent mainly in and around the Whitstable box, but the defenders did brilliantly to keep clearing the danger. Some late corners and optimistic penalty shouts came to nothing and even the presence of Ellis at the wrong end of the pitch could not get a goal for the Crows and Whitstable held on for a vital win.

The wall stops this free kick by Solomon Taiwo
Dan Eason pushes this effort over the bar

The players, management and travelling supporters celebrated a hard earned three points against a Crowborough team, who on the evidence of the games Whitstable have played this season, are probably the best opposition faced to date.

Crowborough Whitstable
10 Attempts 9
4 On Target 4
11 Corners 4
1 Offside 3
13 Free Kicks Won 8

Crowborough Athletic
Dan Ellis, Marcus Goldsmith (Wayne Clarke 54), Sam Cole (Adrian Stone 76), Dan Tear, Jack Turner, Tom Boddy, Solomon Taiwo, Tom Phipp, Zac Attwood, Henry Muggeridge (c), Sam Carrington (Sean Loft 90+5).
Subs (unused): Jason Barton, Sam Crabb.
Yellow card: Jack Turner 4

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Louis Sprosen, Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Shaun Welford 86), Danny Williams, Macauley Murray (Charlie Smith 69).
Subs (unused): Teddy Nelson, Owen Fitt, Dean Ruddy.
Goal: Ricky Freeman 34
Yellow cards: Louis Sprosen 32, Macauley Murray 49, Rob Gillman 82.

Attendance: 174
Referee: Valentine Anekwe
Assistants: Harry Wager & Dan Blades

No Cup Hangover For Town

SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday April 10 2018 19.45

Whitstable claimed their 7th successive win, in what is now a 20 match unbeaten run, on their return to league action at the Belmont. This fixture was sandwiched between the Kent Senior Trophy final and an away trip to Crowborough in a week containing 4 games in 7 days, so manager Scott Porter rested four of the players that took part in the cup final. Whitstable made an impressive start, piling the pressure on the Glebe goal and Josh Burchell opened the scoring from a free kick in the 12th minute. Peter Sweeney equalised with a superbly taken free kick, but Danny Williams restored the Whitstable lead before half time. Glebe did themselves no favours in a bad tempered display and were somewhat fortunate that their card count was only six yellows and one red. Sweeney was sent off before the break and the visitors also lost the unfortunate Laurent Hamici with a dislocated shoulder. In the second half, the ten men got an unusual equaliser when a Dan Eason clearance rebounded into the net off Steve Smith, but further goals by Stuart West and Louis Sprosen secured the three points.

With the away fixture at Crowborough just two days away, James Morrish, Rob Gillman, Chris Saunders and Ricky Freeman were all left out of the Whitstable starting eleven, with each having featured in the cup win on Sunday. Glebe were the first league opponents for Whitstable this season, but only substitute Fred Obasa was in their squad that day and they are now managed by Anwar Uddin, a former professional player with several clubs including Bristol Rovers and Dagenham and Redbridge.

Whitstable looked confident from the start and the Glebe penalty area saw a lot of action in the early minutes. Shaun Welford had a shot deflected over the bar and shortly afterwards, a series of goal attempts were blocked in quick succession, with Williams, Sprosen and Charlie Smith all having a go, before Macauley Murray lifted a shot over the bar. Williams then cut in from the right and shot firmly, but Patrick Ohman made a good block and when the ball was returned into the box, Welford headed it over the top. A Williams cross was headed down by Welford, but Ohman got across to save. It seemed as though a goal was coming and in the 12th minute, it did. Derek Duncan was booked for a foul by the right corner flag and the free kick taken by Burchell went straight in at the near post.

Josh Burchell’s free kick goes past everyone from a narrow angle
It’s 1-0 to Whitstable

The home goal was threatened when Steve Smith found himself in space on the right edge of the box. He struck the ball well towards the bottom right corner, but Eason managed to turn it past the post. Max Fitzgerald was booked for a foul as the corner was delivered into the box. Sweeney, the former Millwall and Stoke City player, was eventually spoken to by the referee after a stream of complaints directed at the officials, but immediately afterwards committed an unnecessary foul on Charlie Smith that earned him a yellow card. In the 26th minute, Sprosen appeared to win the ball in a challenge around 25 yards from goal, but the referee decided that he had caught his opponent, so awarded Glebe a free kick and produced another yellow card. Sweeney stepped forward and found the top right corner, just out of the reach of Eason to make it 1-1. The game was becoming very scrappy, as Glebe started to take issue with every decision. Whitstable got themselves back in front on 36 minutes, when Burchell swung over a deep corner from the right and Welford headed the ball back across goal, where Williams turned and fired it into the net. Before the game restarted, Sweeney was shown another card and ordered off, leaving his team to carry on with ten men for the rest of the match.

Peter Sweeney beats Dan Eason with a great free kick
Shaun Welford wins a header
Danny Williams turns and scores the second

Steve Smith then got his name in the book for a poor off the ball challenge. There was a long delay when Hamici fell awkwardly, causing a painful shoulder injury and sadly he had to be helped off the pitch to seek further medical attention. He was replaced by Bryan Zepo. During the 7 added minutes, Welford headed a corner into the net from close range, but the effort was ruled out for a foul as the goalkeeper found himself entangled in the net, so the teams went in at half time with Whitstable leading 2-1.

Shaun Welford heads a corner into the net, but the effort is ruled out

Zepo made a good run down the right in the early minutes of the second half and a little later went over in the box after another promising piece of play. Shortly afterwards, Glebe were level again, as Whitstable got themselves in a bit of a muddle following a long ball forward. Eason tried to clear, but the ball hit Steve Smith and bounced back past the stranded goalkeeper before rolling into the net. Despite being a man short, Glebe continued to offer an attacking threat when they concentrated on playing football, but often seemed more interested in trying to referee the game. A few minutes later though, Whitstable took the lead for a third time following a Macauley Murray free kick. Several players had shots blocked, before the ball came out to Sprosen and he tried his luck from outside the box. Ohman managed to parry his shot, but West followed in to slam the ball home. There followed another delay as Glebe protested about the goal, with Ohman inevitably being cautioned as he continued his complaints.

Stuart West turns away after making it 3-2

Sam Edwards struck a free kick a long way over the bar and then made a late tackle on Burchell near the touchline, for which he was also booked. Whitstable next had two corners, the first of which was headed towards goal by Williams but cleared off the line and the ball was scrambled clear from the second. On 70 minutes, a good low cross by Burchell was headed just wide by a Sprosen.

Danny Williams sees a header cleared off the line

Freeman replaced Welford for Whitstable, with Glebe introducing Obasa for the closing minutes. Zepo was the next Glebe player to be cautioned, as their card count continued to rise. In the 84th minute, Sprosen received the ball just outside the penalty area and struck a left footed shot past Ohman into the far corner to wrap up the victory. Williams had one final effort that just cleared the bar and a late Glebe free kick was well defended by Whitstable.

Louis Sprosen tries a left footed shot
It’s into the far corner to make it 4-2
This Danny Williams shot is just too high

Glebe had some talented footballers in their team, but might reflect on the behaviour of several of their players that probably cost them any chance of a win on the night. Everyone at the Belmont wishes for a speedy recovery from injury for Laurent Hamici. For Whitstable, it was a case of doing what was necessary to keep their great run going, before moving on to the next game as their congested end of season schedule continues.

Whitstable Glebe
21 Attempts 5
14 On Target 3
6 Corners 2
2 Offside 0
19 Free Kicks Won 16

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Teddy Nelson, Stuart West, Tom Bryant (c), Louis Sprosen, Charlie Smith, Shaun Welford (Ricky Freeman 74), Danny Williams, Macauley Murray (Owen Fitt 87).
Subs (unused): Chris Saunders, Rob Gillman, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Josh Burchell 12, Danny Williams 36, Stuart West 57, Louis Sprosen 84.
Yellow cards: Louis Sprosen 26, Stuart West 31.

Patrick Ohman, Aaron Fray, George Savage, Derek Duncan (c), Max Fitzgerald, Joe Tennant, Steve Smith (Fred Obasa 79), Toch Singh, Laurent Hamici (Bryan Zepo 42), Peter Sweeney, Sam Edwards.
Subs (unused): Luke Miller, Daniel McCulloch, Fin Bryan.
Goals: Peter Sweeney 26, Steve Smith 52.
Yellow cards: Derek Duncan 11, Max Fitzgerald 15, Steve Smith 37, Patrick Ohman 57, Sam Edwards 60, Bryan Zepo 81.
Red card: Peter Sweeney 36 (two yellows 25, 36)

Attendance: 88
Referee: Richard Joss
Assistants: Ryan Chantril-Smith & Nick Derrane

Whitstable Win Kent Senior Trophy

SHEPPEY UNITED 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 (After Extra Time – Score After 90 Minutes 1-1)
(Played at The Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone)
Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final
Sunday April 8 2018 14.00

The Kent Senior Trophy is back at the Belmont eleven years after Mark Seager and his team beat Bearsted at Dartford during the memorable 2006-7 season. In front of 917 spectators at the Gallagher Stadium, Whitstable battled back well after a below par first half performance to eventually win in extra time. The match was a great advert for non-league football with large numbers of fans from both teams creating a good atmosphere in the ground. Following a quiet opening 20 minutes, the game sparked into life when Whitstable had a good claim for a penalty waved away and then found the net from a corner, only to see the effort ruled out. A bad tackle by Luke Girt on James Morrish then led to an angry confrontation between both sets of players, but after that Sheppey took the initiative, going close on several occasions. Dan Eason made a couple of good saves and Remell Davis hit the post before the referee awarded a penalty that was clinically despatched by Omari Hibbert. Whitstable improved in the second half, but it took a brilliant strike by Josh Burchell to bring the scores level. After that Whitstable had several good chances to win the game in 90 minutes, with Chris Saunders and Tom Bryant both going close. Extra time was needed though and Bryant scored the decisive goal when his firm header was adjudged to have crossed the line and a resilient Whitstable team defended well to ensure they hung on to claim the trophy.

Apart from the cup tied Teddy Nelson and injured Craig Cloke, manager Scott Porter had a full squad available and Shaun Welford, whose two goals had won the previous final for Ashford United, was given the nod to start up front, making this his third consecutive final. Sheppey United had won the trophy themselves in April 2016, beating Ashford on penalties. Despite being down in 14th place in the league, Sheppey had already proved tough opposition for Whitstable this season, with a late Louis Sprosen free kick at the Belmont being the only goal in the two fixtures between the teams. Striker Omari Hibbert started for the Ites, having also featured for Greenwich Borough against Hythe in the Bostik League the previous day.

The teams are led out
Whitstable Town
The main stand
Behind the goal

The game started slowly, with several players slipping on the surface before Ricky Freeman forced Joshua Glover into a save with a shot from outside the area. A sliced Bryant clearance almost went over the head of Eason and Timmy Babbington tried a speculative overhead kick that went wide. On 20 minutes, a clearance played down the left was headed into the middle by Welford and as Saunders arrived just inside the box, he seemed to be caught by the outstretched leg of Ian Batten as he tried to shoot. The ball was deflected out for a throw in and any penalty claims were waved away. A couple of minutes later, Welford and Bryant jumped together to meet a Macauley Murray corner, with Bryant appearing to get his head to ball first and putting it in the net, but any celebrations were cut short by the whistle, as the referee had presumably spotted an infringement.

Whitstable put ball in the net but the goal is disallowed

Girt dived in on Morrish with a poor challenge on the halfway line, sparking some pushing and shoving between several of the players and earning himself a yellow card. The game then quietened down for a few minutes, but around the half hour mark Sheppey began to take control and carve out some good opportunities. John Walker picked up a rather soft booking for an attempted tackle on Hicham Akhazzan as he skipped past him, but after play was brought back the free kick was blocked by the defensive wall. Hibbert tried his luck from 30 yards and the ball bounced up awkwardly for Eason, who could only parry it into the path of Davis, but his shot rebounded off the inside of the far post and the ball was cleared away by Stuart West. Freeman had a shot deflected behind for a Whitstable corner, but Sheppey were soon back on the attack again and Davis set up Akhazzan, who curled a good shot towards the top corner and Eason somehow managed to tip the ball around the post.

Dan Eason is tested by Hicham Akhazzan
The Whitstable keeper pulls off a great save

Sheppey were awarded a penalty from the corner that followed, as the ball was nodded down by Rob Saunders to Girt, who chipped the ball back into the air, where Jono Richardson jumped above Bryant and as the pair collapsed to the ground the referee pointed to the spot. After a brief delay for the physios to come on, the former Barking, Corinthian-Casuals and Carshalton player Hibbert stepped up to fire the ball past Eason to give Sheppey a deserved lead. Right on half time, there was a scramble from another corner, but Eason just managed to gather the ball on his line to prevent a second goal before the break.

Omari Hibbert gives Sheppey the lead from the penalty spot
Dan Eason is about to gather the ball safely after a goalmouth scramble

The Whitstable manager was probably happy to get his team in at half time and seek an improved second half performance. Walker shot into the side netting soon after the restart, but there was no immediate response. West lost possession to Akhazzan before bringing him down near the corner and becoming the third player to be booked. In the 54th minute, Whitstable made a change and introduced Danny Williams in place of Welford. Just afterwards, some hesitant defending allowed Hibbert an opening, but his shot went just past the far post. Whitstable gradually got themselves back into the game though and Williams and West both went close with headers before the equaliser came on 66 minutes. Morrish and Saunders combined to find Walker on the right and as the ball came out to him, he sent over a first time cross to the far side of the box, where Burchell took a touch on his chest and rifled a shot into the roof of the net, giving Glover no chance.

Stuart West is just wide with this header
Josh Burchell equalises for Whitstable

Burchell had to be substituted shortly afterwards and Sprosen came on to replace him. Saunders and Williams got in down the right, but as the ball fell to Saunders in the box, he could only find the side netting. Whitstable were now in the ascendancy, but Sheppey were still a threat and a dangerous cross by Akhazzan went right across the goal with no one there to apply the finish. Walker played a great ball down the line to Freeman, who swept the ball into the box for Saunders, but he dragged his shot past the post. On 85 minutes, Freeman ran on to a good through ball and went down as he was challenged, with the loose ball running towards Williams, whose shot was deflected for a corner. From the next Whitstable corner, Bryant was first to the ball, but his header went over the bar. Sheppey brought on Dan Bradshaw just before the end of normal time and Eason had a couple of late crosses to deal with, but the whistle went with the teams level at 1-1.

Chris Saunders hits the side netting with the first of two close attempts

In the opening minutes of extra time, a sliced clearance by Saunders gifted Whitstable a corner on the left. The ball in from Murray was headed towards goal by Bryant and the ball appeared to strike the inside of the post and the arm of Darren Cooper and the assistant flagged to indicate that the ball had just crossed the line. Despite some Sheppey protests, the goal was given and Whitstable had the lead. At the other end, Richardson headed a corner wide and then another Sheppey substitute, Stefan Cox shot past the near post. Eason was called upon to tip a glancing header by Bradshaw from a free kick over the bar. The Whitstable defence three times blocked shots following a free kick just outside the box. Williams talked himself into the book, after not getting a free kick when brought down by Tom Brunt on the halfway line just before the teams changed ends.

Tom Bryant turns away as the assistant rules his header crossed the line for the winning goal
Dan Eason keeps the ball out

Both captains were substituted early in the final period of extra time, with Charlie Smith and George Batten replacing them. Whitstable were solid in defence and had few further alarms, with Rob Gillman faultless at the back throughout. Freeman had a shot turned around the post and Babbington headed wide for Sheppey. Eason comfortably held a shot from Hibbert, but the best chance fell to Sprosen in the dying moments when Williams poked the ball into his path, but Glover was quickly out to block. There was just time for the referee to show a yellow card to Akhazzan for a dive on the edge of the box, before the final whistle confirmed Whitstable as the winners.

The team go over to meet some of the Whitstable fans at the end

The team had once again showed their team spirit and determination not to be beaten as they fought back from a sluggish start. Both teams had contributed to a good, competitive match with a number of talking points to keep the large crowd entertained. The trophy was presented to Whitstable in front a considerable number of their supporters in the main stand and the team then went over to greet the vocal Oysterboys in the far corner. Murray was chosen as the man of the match by the Kent FA.

Sheppey Whitstable
17 Attempts 16
7 On Target 8
8 Corners 7
0 Offside 6
22 Free Kicks Won 14

Sheppey United
Joshua Glover, Tom Brunt, Darren Cooper, Rob Saunders (Stefan Cox 96), Jono Richardson, Luke Girt, Timmy Babbington, Remell Davis (Dan Bradshaw 89), Omari Hibbert, Ian Batten (c) (George Batten 109), Hicham Akhazzan.
Subs (unused): Kwasi Amoah, Lewis Clark.
Goal: Omari Hibbert (pen) 43
Yellow cards: Luke Girt 24, Hicham Akhazzan 120+3.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell (Louis Sprosen 72), Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c) (Charlie Smith 108), Ricky Freeman, Shaun Welford (Danny Williams 54), Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Owen Fitt, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Josh Burchell 66, Tom Bryant 92.
Yellow cards: John Walker 32, Stuart West 52, Danny Williams 103.

Attendance: 917
Referee: Matt Pollington
Assistants: Graham Scott & Jerry Annandale
Fourth Official: Dan Procter