Missed Opportunities Costly

WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 CROYDON 3
Emirates FA Cup – Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday August 5 2017 15.00

Whitstable crashed out of the FA Cup to league rivals Croydon, but may feel they created enough chances to have won the game. However once Croydon scored their third and decisive goal when Nathan Campbell headed over Dan Eason following a free kick, the home side largely lost their way, rarely looking like finding a way back and the frustration showed with a number of late cards. Whitstable had earlier started badly, as a needless penalty was conceded allowing Jamie McGeoghegan the chance to put Croydon ahead after 2 minutes. They quickly fought back though with two well taken goals by Harry Goodger and Danny Williams. After a brief hail storm, Croydon equalised just before half time as a shot by Stephane Bombelenga took a wicked deflection to leave Eason stranded. Whitstable came out in the second half and created a string of good chances, but were unable to find the killer touch as the woodwork and some goal line clearances denied them and it was left to the big Croydon defender Campbell to earn his team a home tie against Faversham in the next round.

After a promising pre-season, as last year the real action started with an FA Cup tie and Whitstable were unable to play Rob Gillman, James Morrish, Jack West or Carl Harrold, who all had suspensions carried over from the previous campaign at their respective clubs. Club captain Criag Cloke remains side-lined with a foot injury. Croydon fielded a much changed side from last season, with only McGeoghegan remaining from the team that lost 7-0 at the Belmont Ground in March, although striker Duah-Kessie did play and score in the reverse fixture at Croydon.

The game had barely started when George Savage brought down Eidan Fejzi on the left edge of the penalty area with a clumsy challenge and the referee pointed to the spot. McGeoghegan stepped up and found the bottom right hand corner of the net to stun the home supporters in the crowd of 197.

Jamie McGeoghegan scores from the spot

Croydon had the better of the early exchanges and Duah-Kessie turned smartly and had a shot deflected behind for a corner. On 11 minutes however, the home team were level as a Williams cross from the right was met by Goodger who turned the ball past Alex Hewitt. Just two minutes later Ricky Freeman sent in another cross that was controlled by Williams in the box and he found the far corner with a good finish and Whitstable were ahead.

Harry Goodger makes it 1-1
Danny Williams sees his shot beat Alex Hewitt

The middle part of the first half was memorable mainly for a storm, with a few minutes of hail driving across the pitch accompanied by some thunder and lightning. On 28 minutes a Sprosen cross was volleyed over by Freeman and a great cross by Goodger was caught by Hewitt as Whitstable tried to extend their advantage. Eason had to be alert to grab a low ball across goal by Matthew O’Donoghue after a good Croydon move down the right and then a promising run by Duah-Kessie came to nothing as he was crowded out by the home defence. As half time approached Bombelenga, the Croydon number 11, collected the ball on the right, cut in and unleashed a left footed shot from 20 yards that took a big deflection and Eason was completely wrong footed as the ball ended in the net to send the teams into the break at 2-2.[Croydon awarded the goal to Duah-Kessie.]

The sun returned to replace the floodlights when the teams emerged for the second half and Croydon won a couple of early corners. Whitstable then had a period of about half an hour when they created a number of chances, but just could not score. Freeman headed a Williams cross back across the goal where Goodger saw his header deflected for a corner. Freeman shot over from an Aaron Quain cross and then another shot beat Hewitt, but came back off the frame of the goal and the follow up effort from Goodger was saved. Goodger and Freeman then combined, forcing Hewitt to get down to make another save. An Ollie Lee attempt from another Quain corner went wide. Williams headed straight at Hewitt from a good Lee delivery. The first booking arrived on 74 minutes when Adan Brown caught Savage on the touchline and Hewitt misjudged Sprosen’s free kick, his sliced punch heading towards goal where McGeoghegan somehow managed to head clear from under the bar. The subsequent deep corner was headed back by Tom Bryant to Goodger, whose close range header was also saved on the line.

Goodger’s header is deflected behind for a corner
Saved by the framework this time
Hewitt makes another save
McGeoghegan heads off the line

Bryant was then booked for his reaction to being penalised for a challenge and the resulting free kick was only partially cleared and as the ball was clipped back in Campbell beat Eason to the ball and looped a header into the net to give the visitors the lead on 79 minutes.

Croydon score the winner

A mistake by Campbell a few minutes later gave Freeman a sight of goal, but his shot was deflected for a corner. Otherwise the latter stages of the game were not used wisely by Whitstable and there were too many long balls that were easily mopped up by the Croydon defence. The frustrated players also managed to pick up three more cards in the seven added minutes, one of which was a second yellow for Quain and Croydon saw the game out in relative comfort.

So, no FA Cup run for Whitstable this time around and despite creating a number of good chances, it was a disappointing performance in the end and improvement will be needed as the league campaign starts next week at newcomers Glebe FC.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, George Savage, Aaron Quain, Stuart West, Ashley Brown, Tom Bryant (c), Louis Sprosen, Ollie Lee (Harris Rodgers 90+1), Ricky Freeman, Harry Goodger, Danny Williams.
Subs (unused): Charlie Smith, Harry Brown, Sam Brown, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Harry Goodger 11, Danny Williams 13.
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 78, Louis Sprosen 90+5, Harry Goodger 90+7.
Red card: Aaron Quain (two yellows 80, 90+6)

Croydon
Alex Hewitt, Matthew O’Donoghue, Sam Johnson, Matt Weller, Jamie McGeoghegan, Nathan Campbell (c), Eidan Fejzi (Craig Davies 69), Bradley Wilson, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Marvin Armstrong, Stephane Bombelenga (Adan Brown 54).
Subs (unused): Allan Bryan, Danny O’Rourke, Luke Tan, Mothibi Penn-Kekana, Lochlan Greenwood.
Goals: Jamie McGeoghegan (pen) 2, Jeff Duah-Kessie 42, Nathan Campbell 79.
Yellow cards: Adan Brown 74, Jeff Duah-Kessie 90.

Attendance: 197
Referee: Hossain Tavakkoli
Assistants: Ashleigh Ainsley & Benjamin Rathe