Hollands & Blair Complete Double

HOLLANDS & BLAIR 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Wednesday October 5 2016 19.45

After winning their last two matches, Whitstable were beaten at a chilly, blustery Star Meadow as Hollands & Blair completed an early season double. Whitstable shaded the first half in terms of possession and corners, as both teams hit the woodwork once. Playing against the wind though after the break, Whitstable struggled to produce anything to trouble the home goalkeeper and Hollands & Blair just about did enough to deserve the three points. The decisive goal came from James McDonald after 57 minutes.

Manager Scott Porter named an unchanged starting eleven for the first time this season. The playing surface was nothing like the lovely green carpet at Beckenham though and coupled with the strong easterly wind, it was a very different challenge. The home side’s main goal threat, James McDonald, had two early half chances, but both shots were straight at Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal. At the other end Ollie Lee shot over after good play by Harris Rodgers and then a cross from Rodgers was almost sliced into his own net by Lewis Taylor. Whitstable won six corners in the first half and the first taken by Harry Brown found Rob Gillman at the far post, but the ball was cleared for another corner. This time Dane Luchford took it from the left and with the wind causing problems, keeper Ronan Forde just managed to touch it on to the bar.  After 19 minutes another Luchford corner was headed wide by Ashley Brown, then a Harry Brown cross was missed by everyone as it went right across the goalmouth.

Lewis Taylor slices an early clearance
Lewis Taylor slices an early clearance
A Dane Luchford corner hits the bar
A Dane Luchford corner hits the bar
Ashley Brown heads wide from a corner
Ashley Brown heads wide from a corner

Hollands & Blair won a couple of corners in quick succession that came to nothing, but it was from another Whitstable corner on 26 minutes that a quick break by the home side ended with Jack Simon playing a one-two with McDonald and smacking the ball against the post from 20 yards. Then the referee controversially awarded the home side a free kick for a back pass after Eason collected the ball as it seemed to rebound off a defender a couple of yards from goal. The ball was rolled to Gary Lockyer to strike, but his effort was blocked by Gillman. Darren Marsden was then somewhat unfortunate to pick up a yellow card for a challenge in midfield. On the stroke of half time, another good shot from Simon following a cross field ball was well tipped over by Eason. The goalless first half had been quite an entertaining affair in spite of the conditions with Whitstable having marginally the better of it territorially, but both sides had come close to scoring.

The home side go close
The home side go close

After the break, Hollands & Blair were generally on top and created the better chances. The visitors had a good amount of possession at times, but failed to really test Forde in the home goal. Kane Rowland was booked early on for protesting after a throw appeared to be incorrectly given against him and Louis Valencia followed him into the book for a challenge soon afterwards. On 57 minutes the only goal of the game was scored inevitably by McDonald as he curled a left footed shot from the edge of the box into the corner past the right hand of the diving Eason.

James McDonald scores
James McDonald scores

Ashley Brown carried the ball up field with a good run and found his namesake Harry, but his cross was easily cut out. Eason had to be alert to block another couple of attempts before a cross from Rodgers was almost headed into his own goal by a home defender. The last twenty minutes passed with Whitstable rarely looking likely to get back into the game and Eason denied Simon once more. There was some late amusement for the by now thoroughly chilled crowd as substitute Aaron Quain was pushed over as he tried to shield the ball just in front of the stand, but nothing was given. After a late booking for Luchford, a Whitstable free kick in stoppage time was deflected just wide, as Hollands & Blair held on for the win that they deserved on chances created.

Whitstable need to learn from games like this if they are to challenge the top teams in the league this season.

Hollands & Blair
Ronan Forde, Sam Gutridge (Jack West 77), Lewis Taylor (c), George Hadley (George Blake 70), Tom Staff, Sam Adgie, Jack Simon, Sam Prescott, James McDonald (Ben Brown 90), Gary Lockyer, Louis Valencia.Subs (unused): Ross Webb, Bailey Pearce.Goal: James McDonald 57.
Yellow card: Louis Valencia 55.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Ollie Lee, Dane Luchford, Nick Treadwell, Kane Rowland, Darren Marsden (Aaron Quain 78), Harris Rodgers.
Subs (unused): Craig Thompson, Grant McIlheron, Callum Wraight, Harry Brooks.
Yellow cards: Darren Marsden 33, Kane Rowland 54, Dane Luchford 90+2.

Attendance: 121
Referee: Joshua Howard
Assistants: Steven Tunnicliffe & Graham Scott