WHITSTABLE TOWN 0 ASHFORD UNITED 1
Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Quarter Final
Tuesday January 31 2017 19.45
Whitstable were knocked out of the Kent Senior Trophy at a misty Belmont by a penalty converted by Adrian Stone shortly before half time. In a first half of few chances, each goalkeeper was called on to make one good save, before the referee pointed to the spot after a clumsy challenge by Joe Kennett that appeared to be just outside the penalty area. Whitstable carved out plenty of chances after the break, winning eight corners and several free kicks in dangerous positions, but just could not find a way past the Ashford goalkeeper George Kamurasi who pulled off a number of fine saves. The away side rarely threatened another goal, although Dan Eason denied Stone with a good low stop when he broke clear. A physical Ashford team were hampered by two red cards, which reduced them to nine players for the last 15 minutes or so but they held on to reach the semi-finals.
Whitstable were without the cup-tied Tom Bryant and unavailable Bola Dawodu for this quarter final and Ashford started with the dangerous trio of Shaun Welford, Ryan Palmer and Rory Hill on the bench. The pitch had recovered somewhat from Saturday despite the damp weather, but the action was limited in the first 10 minutes until Ryan James struck a free kick from around 35 yards that Eason did well to push over the bar. The home side first threatened when a Harry Brown cross found Connor Hood, but his effort was blocked at the near post. Then a ball through the middle passed a number of players and reached Kane Rowland who was pulled back 30 yards from goal by big defender Pat Kingwell, earning him a yellow card. Harry Brown took the free kick and his left footed shot was tipped over by the Ashford goalkeeper.
On 28 minutes Charlie Smith was booked for a sliding challenge just in front of the Ashford bench sparking a bit of jostling before play restarted. Whitstable failed to make the most of a free kick after Craig Thompson was caught in the face, but there was little goalmouth action until the game sprang into life in the closing stages of the half. Ashford were given a debatable penalty on 41 minutes for a foul by Kennett on the right close to the 18 yard line and Stone sent Eason the wrong way to open the scoring. It could have been two a minute later as Rob Gillman was robbed close to the goal line, but the home defence recovered quickly. The final action before the interval saw Rowland in the Ashford penalty area lay the ball back to Smith, but his left footed shot curled wide of the far post.
Soon after the restart Hood got in on the right after the defence had failed to cut out a high ball and he shot low past Kamurasi, but just wide.
Then the ball was taken off the foot of Thompson as he was shaping to shoot. Whitstable won four successive corners, but were unable to create a clear opening. After 58 minutes Stone latched on to a good pass but Eason got across well to save low to his left. James was booked for a late challenge on the hour mark and then Ashford were reduced to ten men after George Savage kicked Ollie Lee from behind after he had won the ball in the corner. Rowland charged down an attempted clearance, but dragged his shot wide. Kennett played the ball into Thompson who lifted a shot just over as Whitstable pressed forward.
Harris Rodgers was introduced for Kennett and then Aaron Quain replaced Harry Brown in an attempt to boost the attacking options. On 78 minutes Quain found Rowland who was brought down on the edge of the area by James who was shown a second yellow card and the visitors were down to nine. Smith hit a low free kick that Kamurasi saved with an outstretched right hand just inside the post. Another effort from the resulting corner went just wide.
Lee and Hood then combined to set up Smith who was again thwarted by Kamurasi. As the corner came in, several efforts were blocked and then the impressive Kamurasi saved again from Quain. In a rare break at the other end, Eason was caught by a late challenge as he came to claim the ball. Some good play by Lee, who was seeing a lot of the ball in midfield, created another chance for Rowland whose curling effort was well saved by Kamurasi just under the bar. Lee was then felled on the edge of the box, but Hood could not hit the target from the free kick. The busy Kamurasi was then shown a card for delaying the restart. In stoppage time Ashford substitute Clark Woodcock broke dangerously, but Gillman, Ashley Brown and Eason managed to avert the danger. The last chance for Whitstable to take the tie into extra time came as the Ashford goalkeeper cleared the ball straight to Thompson, but his lob from distance went wide.
So, the winning run ended as Whitstable lost for only the second time in thirteen games, both defeats to the same opponents. They will feel a bit unfortunate to go out of the competition after this performance, but came up against a goalkeeper in top form and perhaps once again suffered from a slow start.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown (Aaron Quain 75), Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Calvin Sedenu, Joe Kennett (Harris Rodgers 71), Ollie Lee, Kane Rowland, Craig Thompson, Charlie Smith.
Subs (unused): Newman Poku, Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Yellow card: Charlie Smith 28
George Kamurasi, George Savage, Frazer Walker, Ryan James, Stuart West (c), Pat Kingwell, Brett Ince (Clark Woodcock 61), Ben Davisson (Dave Botterill 68), Adrian Stone, Jason Goodchild, Tom Fagg (Ryan Palmer 54).
Subs (unused): Rory Hill, Shaun Welford.
Goal: Adrian Stone (pen) 41
Yellow cards: Pat Kingwell 18, Ben Davisson 18, Ryan James 60, 78, George Kamurasi 89
Red cards: George Savage 65, Ryan James (two yellows) 78.
Referee: Kane Dempster
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Aaron Conn