TUNBRIDGE WELLS 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday November 5 2016 15.00
Whitstable put in a flat performance on a chilly afternoon at Tunbridge Wells in a poor game. After a bright start from the home side, Whitstable had the better of the first half although there were few chances as the final ball was too often not good enough. There were a few more attempts on goal at both ends after the break in a more even half. Darren Marsden limped off shortly after the interval with a groin injury and Whitstable then played too many hopeful longs balls that were mainly dealt with by the Tunbridge Wells defence. Luchford headed against the bar and substitute Harris Rodgers went close on a couple of occasions, with the assistant ruling that the ball did not cross the line following one last ditch clearance. Tunbridge Wells also had a couple of good chances with Connor Hood clearing one off the line. A late breakaway saw Josh Biddlecombe score the decisive goal with a good finish, despite looking marginally offside as the ball was passed to him.
Nick Treadwell started in midfield with Charlie Smith moving further forward in place of the unavailable Craig Thompson. Tunbridge Wells won two early corners before Luchford broke clear at the other end, but his effort was blocked. Some good play by Marsden and Smith ended with a dangerous Smith cross that just evaded Kane Rowland. The home number ten Charlie Cornford then made a threatening run through the Whitstable half but his shot was straight at Dan Eason. Paul Butler was booked for chopping down Marsden, who later picked up a soft yellow card himself for a foul before Smith also got one for kicking the ball away. There was little else of note in a 45 minutes lacking in quality and the two goalkeepers were rarely troubled.
After a short fitness test during the break, Marsden eventually had to leave the field after 50 minutes with Smith dropping back into midfield and Rodgers coming on up front. Butler headed a Dane Moore corner over the bar for Tunbridge Wells before they introduced new signing Luke Carpenter on the left wing. On 63 minutes a cross from Hood was met by Luchford, but his header hit the bar and rebounded to Rodgers whose shot was deflected for a corner which was headed just over by Ashley Brown. A ball into the Whitstable box from Carpenter was not dealt with and arrived at Butler, who shot over when he might have done better. A minute later following a corner the ball was played back across the area and when a shot finally came in, Hood cleared the ball off the line and it was collected by Eason.
On 69 minutes Rodgers won the ball and used his pace to get clear, but although his shot lacked power it appeared to be heading into the net. Kieron Tarbie managed to hook the ball back where it was gathered by goalkeeper Steve Lawrence and despite appeals the ball was adjudged not to have crossed the line.
Rowland then released Rodgers through the middle again, but his low shot was wide of the far post. Brad Large had caused a few problems down the right and another cross was just scrambled clear. On 82 minutes Tunbridge Wells broke and Cornford passed to Biddlecombe who seemed to be just ahead of the last defender, but was allowed to continue and fired past Eason. Whitstable brought on Brendon Cass for Treadwell, but could not create another worthwhile chance. In stoppage time after a poor Whitstable corner, Tunbridge Wells broke again with two on one, but Eason made a good save and the game ended 1-0 in front of a good crowd of 247.
Tunbridge Wells started the game in the bottom three, but defended stoutly and showed enough going forward to suggest they will probably rise to mid table. That is a position Whitstable are also likely to finish unless they can quickly find some consistency, having lost half of their fourteen matches despite having a very strong looking squad. Six of their seven wins have been against teams in the bottom eight and they have yet to play the two favourites for the title – Crowborough and Ashford United.
Steve Lawrence, Kieron Tarbie, Alfie Hall, Paul Butler (c), Brad Potter, Luke Hackett, Brad Large (Chris Seenan 88), Dane Moore (Tom Mackelden 81), Josh Biddlecombe, Charlie Cornford, Joe Adams (Luke Carpenter 61).
Sub (unused): Connor Pring.
Goal: Josh Biddlecombe 82
Yellow cards: Paul Butler 18, Dane Moore 68.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Ollie Lee, Dane Luchford (Aaron Quain 81), Nick Treadwell (Brendon Cass 86), Kane Rowland, Darren Marsden (Harris Rodgers 50), Charlie Smith.
Subs (unused): Scott Punton, Harry Brooks.
Yellow cards: Darren Marsden 30, Charlie Smith 32, Rob Gillman 72, Connor Hood 90+3.
Referee: Jair Guzman
Assistants: Shane Brown & Stephen Cole