Freeman Double In Trophy Win

WHITSTABLE TOWN 3 FC ELMSTEAD 2
Kent Reliance Senior Trophy First Round
Saturday October 14 2017 15.00

Whitstable progressed to the last sixteen of the Kent Senior Trophy with a narrow win over Division One opponents FC Elmstead. This was a closer affair than the FA Vase tie five weeks earlier when Whitstable came away from Bromley with a comfortable 5-1 win. The visitors created the best chances in the first half and could well have been in front at the break. They did take the lead when Christian Howell found the net with a cool finish after an attempted clearance by Dan Eason went straight to the Elmstead skipper. Whitstable struggled to get any fluency, but Ricky Freeman got on the end of a Danny Williams cross in stoppage time to send the teams in level at half time. The home side had the better of the second half and well taken goals by Williams and Freeman put them in control. Elmstead goalkeeper Larry McArdle made some great saves, but his team rarely threatened the Whitstable goal until a corner was nodded in by Lekan Bakare to give them a late consolation.

Tom Bryant returned to the Whitstable team following his one match ban and played in a back three alongside Jack West and Rob Gillman, with Louis Sprosen and Josh Burchell starting as wing backs in a changed formation. Club captain Craig Cloke was on the bench due to an injury, as was Chris Saunders who was still recovering from the cut head received in the Chatham game. Shaun Welford is awaiting the results of a scan on his knee and Harris Rodgers has decided to seek regular football elsewhere. Defender Ashley Brown should be fit for the next game. FC Elmstead have changed their manager and several players since the teams met in the FA Vase and came to the Belmont in a good run of recent form.

The visitors started brightly and a couple of long throws from Daniel Carpenter caused a few problems for the Whitstable defence, before the lively Williams won a corner at the other end and a Burchell cross just eluded the waiting Bryant at the far post. Freeman ran on to a ball down the right, but his attempted lob over the advancing goalkeeper was too high. In the 11th minute, a good break by Elmstead saw Jordan Samuel create a great chance for Marcus Black, but his shot lacked power and Eason was able to make the save.

Tom Bryant just fails to reach this cross at the back post
Marcus Black has a great chance, but fails to beat Dan Eason

Gillman and Bryant both had back post headers just wide and then Freeman again tried to lob McArdle without managing to find the net. On 18 minutes, Elmstead took the lead as Eason came out to intercept a low through ball, but decided to try to head it and it went straight to Christian Howell who sent the ball straight into the net from around 25 yards. It was a composed finish by the visiting captain, who played really well throughout the match. A few minutes later he had another shot deflected for a corner that he took himself and found the unmarked head of Joe Hart, but he failed to trouble Eason. Freeman set up Williams with a nice pass, but McArdle was quickly out to prevent him getting a shot at goal.

Larry McArdle denies Danny Williams

On 36 minutes some miscommunication between Eason and Bryant in the home defence allowed Black another great opportunity, but he hooked the ball just wide of the empty net from the edge of the box. A rare moment of hesitation from Gillman was seized upon by Bakare, who took the ball forward only to see his shot deflected behind for a corner. Whitstable were struggling to create much at this stage, but Williams and Freeman combined to find the onrushing Stuart West, but he could only stab the ball at McArdle, who gathered easily. It was Elmstead though who continued to press, only for Whitstable to catch them out on the stroke of half time. A long pass down the left sent Williams clear and he did well to pick out a low cross to Freeman, who cleverly tucked the ball past McArdle from close range to make it 1-1.

Ricky Freeman flicks the ball past McArdle to make it 1-1

The timing of the equaliser seemed to lift the home team and they played much better after the break. Williams headed a Burchell cross just over the bar and Whitstable continued to attack and then took the lead in the 54th minute. A Jack West pass found Williams on the right and he cut into the box, went around Marcus Howell and the goalkeeper and then hit a left footed shot past the remaining defenders into the top corner.

Danny Williams scores
Whitstable lead 2-1

Elmstead had very few goal attempts in the second half, but Christian Howell delivered some dangerous balls into the box from a free kick and a couple of corners that the home defence had to deal with. They brought on Charlie Sharman for Ollie Lacey with half an hour to play. Burchell collected the only booking of the afternoon on 67 minutes for halting a break down the right with a mistimed tackle. He was then replaced by Charlie Smith after a short delay to fix the net. Freeman had a shot blocked and James Morrish won the ball just outside the box but shot wide. Williams got clear again down the left and pulled the ball back for Sprosen who shot over and then a great strike by Smith from 35 yards was saved by McArdle. The third Whitstable goal arrived on 84 minutes after Macauley Murray did well to get into the box on the left and played the ball across to Williams whose pace allowed him to collect it and find Freeman and he hooked it first time into the far corner with an instinctive finish.

Ricky Freeman (out of shot) finds the corner of the net to score his second

Freeman was looking for a hat-trick and had a well struck long shot saved by McArdle. Nick Treadwell, who is heading back to New Zealand shortly, replaced Morrish for the last few minutes. Murray forced a good save from McArdle from a free kick and the goalkeeper then made an even better stop, keeping out a header from the resulting corner as Williams and Treadwell closed in.

The Elmstead goalkeeper keeps another effort out
Fans favourite Nick Treadwell striving to get on the score sheet before departing for New Zealand

As the game entered stoppage time, a quick Elmstead break led to a corner on the right that was helped on and nodded over the line by Bakare for a consolation goal. The final whistle soon followed, so no extra time or penalties were required and Whitstable await the second round draw. It was a good effort by the visitors, particularly in the first half. There is more cup action for Whitstable next week, as they head to Saltdean United for an FA Vase tie.

Whitstable Elmstead
21 Attempts 9
10 On Target 4
10 Corners 5
4 Offside 5
10 Free Kicks Won 12

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Louis Sprosen, Josh Burchell (Charlie Smith 68), Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman, Jack West, Macauley Murray, James Morrish (c) (Nick Treadwell 86), Ricky Freeman, Stuart West, Danny Williams.
Subs (unused): Craig Cloke, Chris Saunders, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Ricky Freeman 45+1, 84, Danny Williams 54.
Yellow card: Josh Burchell 67

FC Elmstead
Larry McArdle, Kamal Charles-Reid, Daniel Carpenter, Christian Howell (c), Joe Hart, Marcus Howell, Ben Lockett, Ollie Lacey (Charlie Sharman 60), Marcus Black, Jordan Samuel, Lekan Bakare.
Sub (unused): Rob Curtis
Goals: Christian Howell 18, Lekan Bakare 90+1.

Attendance: 105
Referee: Jack Owen
Assistants: Joanne Park & Daniel Blades