Whitstable must travel to Eastbourne on Tuesday evening for a replay after a 0-0 draw at The Belmont. The weather was the ultimate winner as the extremely gusty conditions made it difficult for both sides in a tight game. Harris Rodgers came closest to scoring for the home side as his header hit the bar midway through the first half. Dan Eason had to produce a good save from an early Daniel Bolwell free kick and veteran defender Sean Ray was just off target with a header from a late corner for Eastbourne.
Craig Thompson returned from suspension for his first game of the season, but Charlie Smith, Darren Marsden and Joe Kennett were all unfit to play. Harry Brown, a new signing from Herne Bay was on the bench. An early high ball into the box from Eastbourne’s Bolwell gave some indication of the problems the wind would cause as Eason managed to gather at the second attempt.
In the 10th minute Eastbourne were awarded a free kick after a Callum Wraight challenge. It was well struck by Bolwell, but Eason made a good save high to his left. An injury to Layton Schaaf then forced the visitors to make an early change. After 24 minutes some good passing between Ollie Lee, Thompson and Rodgers ended with the ball being deflected over for a corner. This was taken by Wraight and found Thompson beyond the far post and he headed it back across goal to Rodgers, whose header beat keeper Greg Nessling but hit the bar. The rebound fell to Thompson, who was blocked before he was able to get his shot away.
Just after the half hour mark, Wraight had to be replaced by Harry Brown, who did a good job on his debut at left back for the remainder of the game. A diving header by Aaron Capon as the ball ran loose in the home box was safely gathered by Eason. Just before the interval Jamie Collado was booked for pulling back an opponent in midfield.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were really scrappy as the gusty wind seemed to get worse and both teams struggled to get any kind of control of the ball. Eastbourne won a free kick in a dangerous position which Wesley Tate struck into the defensive wall, but the rebound was collected by Bolwell who was then fouled by Nick Treadwell and he was booked for his mistimed tackle. Tate’s free kick again hit the wall and came to nothing. Whitstable had created little playing against the wind and Thompson was replaced by Newman Poku for the last quarter of an hour. Eastbourne’s Alan Foster was booked for diving in the penalty area. With 10 minutes left Grant McIlheron did well to block a dangerous cross from substitute Chris Cumming-Bart and from the resulting corner Ray arrived late, but couldn’t find the target with his header.
An Aaron Quain free kick from around 40 yards was just tipped over the bar by Nessling. The Whitstable manager was asked to leave the technical area by the referee on 90 minutes and the home side created two further chances in stoppage time. A good move ended with a Quain cross being cleared and Scott Punton advanced down the right, but his ball across goal was just deflected wide of the far post. It wasn’t the performance that Whitstable would have hoped for, but they have yet to concede a goal this season and will hope to find a bit more creativity in order to progress in the replay – in hopefully better conditions.
The potential opponents in the next round are still not known because Banstead Athletic conceded a late equaliser against visitors Colliers Wood United in a 3-3 draw. Their replay is scheduled for Wednesday evening.
Please note that Whitstable will not be running a coach to Eastbourne on Tuesday where the kick off will be 7.45pm. Ground/travel information can be found on this website under the match details.
Dan Eason (c), Scott Punton, Callum Wraight (Harry Brown 32), Ollie Lee, Grant McIlheron, Lee Winfield, Nick Treadwell, Jamie Collado, Craig Thompson (Newman Poku 74), Harris Rodgers, Aaron Quain.
Subs (unused): Ollie Brown, Reiss Crimmen, Harry Brooks.
Yellow cards: Jamie Collado 44, Nick Treadwell 63.
Greg Nessling, Sam Willett, Daniel Bolwell, Alan Foster, Sean Ray, Callum Sherriff, Jason Taylor, Ethan Strevett, Layton Schaaf (Drew Greenall 16), Wesley Tate (c), Aaron Capon (Chris Cumming-Bart 69).
Subs (unused): Sam Smith, Matt Cunnington, Matt Darby, Jake Botting, Louis Rogers.
Yellow card: Alan Foster 76
Referee: Craig Pullen
Assistants: Adam Storey & Jamie Wood