Lots Of Action But No Points

WHITSTABLE TOWN 3 SHEPPEY UNITED 4
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday November 12 2016 15.00

Whitstable lost again in an action packed game at the Belmont. The opening 25 minutes were quite even and Rob Gillman saw a header cleared from under the bar. Two good finishes by Lee Friend though put Sheppey in command as the home defence went missing and Remell Davis bundled in a third just before half time. The game appeared over, but Whitstable fought back well after the break as Ashley Brown pulled one back and then Connor Hood finished a good move to make it 2-3 with 25 minutes to play. Just as it looked as though the comeback might be on, Whitstable stood and watched as Davis was given the time and space on the edge of the penalty area to find the top corner. Despite Gillman finishing an incredible goalmouth scramble after 83 minutes, the visitors managed to run down the clock and hold on for the win.

Following the departures of Kane Rowland and Dane Luchford during the week, B Team forward Newman Poku returned to the side and Scott Punton came in to play alongside captain Gillman and Ashley Brown in a back three. In contrast to the frantic ending, the first half started quietly with Whitstable goalkeeper Dan Eason first tested after 10 minutes as he comfortably caught a curling effort from Timmy Babbington. The next incident came on 16 minutes as Harry Brown challenged Enoch Adjei on the touchline and the referee awarded a throw to Sheppey, but the visitors number seven decided to take the law into his own hands sparking a confrontation involving both sets of players. He was booked together with Craig Thompson for his subsequent involvement. Thompson and Darren Marsden then set up Charlie Smith on the edge of the area and his shot was deflected for a corner which was curled in by Hood and met by Gillman, whose flicked header was nodded off the line by Rob Saunders.

Early action for Dan Eason
Early action for Dan Eason

On 26 minutes Babbington released Friend with a pass through the home defence and he outpaced Gillman before firing the ball past Eason to open the scoring. A bad challenge by Babbington on Harry Brown saw a yellow card issued, before George Batten was given a lecture for another poor tackle. A good move saw Sheppey left back Karn Miller-Neave get forward and swing in a dangerous cross, but it was volleyed high over the stand by Friend. Just afterwards though in the 33rd minute Ian Batten fed Davis on the right and his low cross was despatched into the top corner by Friend. Whitstable then applied some pressure as a Harry Brown cross was headed over by Poku and two corners came to nothing. On the stroke of halftime a low Babbington cross from the right was forced over the line by Davis. There was just time for Poku to get his name in the book as the referee deemed his attempted block worthy of a card and the visitors went into the break looking comfortable. Whitstable had seen a fair bit of the ball, but their direct approach had rarely looked like opening up the Sheppey defence.

Lee Friend scores the Sheppey opener
Lee Friend scores the Sheppey opener

The second half was to prove an exciting spectacle for the good crowd as Whitstable tried to complete an unlikely comeback. On 52 minutes Ashley Brown reacted the quickest as a corner from the right found its way to the back post through a crowd of players and suddenly there was hope.

Ashley Brown after scoring the first Whitstable goal
Ashley Brown after scoring the first Whitstable goal

Smith and Poku threatened another, but just a couple of minutes later Babbington sent Friend clear and he ran into the area and shot low to the left of Eason who got down well to turn it around the post. In the 65th minute Whitstable pulled another goal back as Thompson found Marsden and he rolled the ball into the path of Hood who was galloping down the right and he hit it first time past Dean Warford low into the far corner.

The strike from Connor Hood beats Dean Warford
The strike from Connor Hood beats Dean Warford

It appeared that the momentum was with Whitstable, but on 71 minutes Sheppey broke down the right and Friend received the ball on the 18 yard line and passed inside to Davis who was totally unmarked with time to control the ball and fire it into the top corner giving Eason no chance. Whitstable continued to press though and Harry Brown curled a left footed shot in from the right that was touched on to the bar by Warford and a free kick sent in by the Whitstable number three was headed just over by substitute Harris Rodgers.

A Harry Brown effort hits the frame of the goal
A Harry Brown effort hits the frame of the goal

The home side did get a third on 83 minutes following a spell of pinball in a packed Sheppey box. Three attempts were blocked on the line and another came back off the post before Gillman finally found the net through the crowd of players.

An attempt comes back off the post
An attempt comes back off the post
Rob Gillman shoots through the crowd to make it 4-3
Rob Gillman shoots through the crowd to make it 4-3

A further late spell of pressure saw another cross headed just wide as five additional minutes were signalled, but Sheppey managed to see out the stoppage time with few further alarms and clung on for a hard earned win.

A late header almost claims a point
A late header almost claims a point

It was a very entertaining game, particularly the second half, with some quality finishes and plenty of goalmouth incidents, but Whitstable have yet to find any consistent winning formula and will need to improve considerably if they are to challenge for honours this season.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Ollie Lee, Scott Punton (Nick Treadwell 89), Charlie Smith (Brendon Cass 85), Craig Thompson, Darren Marsden, Newman Poku (Harris Rodgers 61).
Subs (unused): Aaron Quain, Harry Brooks.
Goals: Ashley Brown 52, Connor Hood 65, Rob Gillman 83.
Yellow cards: Craig Thompson 16, Newman Poku 45+2, Connor Hood.

Sheppey United
Dean Warford, Carl Harrold, Karn Miller-Neave, Aaron Williams, Rob Saunders, George Batten, Enoch Adjei (Joseph Fornah 63), Lee Friend (Richard Atkins 85), Remell Davis, Ian Batten (c) (James Huggins 72), Timmy Babbington.
Subs (unused): Dan Bradshaw, Marvin Okundalaiya.
Goals: Lee Friend 26, 33, Remell Davis 45, 71.
Yellow cards: Enoch Adjei 16, Timmy Babbington 27.

Attendance: 182
Referee: Steve Perry
Assistants: Matt Charles & Ronald Albert