Rochester United v Crowborough Athletic

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Rochester United v Whitstable Town

ROCHESTER UNITED 0 WHITSTABLE TOWN 4
SCEFL Premier Division
Wednesday April 25 2018 19.45

Whitstable started this game against bottom of the table Rochester United, knowing that three points would ensure they finish no lower than second, after rivals Crowborough were beaten the previous evening. Despite missing a few players, once Danny Williams had given them an early lead with a great finish, the result was never really in doubt. Williams added a second midway through the first half and although Whitstable went close on a number of other occasions, the score remained 2-0 at half time. Charlie Smith scored following a good move just after the break to ensure there would be no comeback by Rochester, who kept going despite not registering an attempt on goal in the first hour. Substitute Rhys Brain scored the fourth with his first goal for the senior team, finishing well into the far corner towards the end. Rochester created a couple of late chances, with Dan Nash forcing a good save out of Nick Shaw with a good curling shot in stoppage time.

James Morrish and Macauley Murray were both unavailable and with goalkeeper Dan Eason still struggling with an injury sustained at Crowborough, Nick Shaw again deputised. Craig Cloke, Ricky Freeman and Louis Sprosen all sat the game out on the bench. Whitstable had beaten Rochester 3-0 in the reverse fixture at the Belmont just nine days earlier. The home team, now managed by Darren Anslow and Paul Gross, were already condemned to finishing bottom and therefore will be playing in Division One next season. A great number of Whitstable supporters made the journey to see if their team could clinch second place and the likely promotion that would follow.

A confident Whitstable team were totally in control against their inexperienced opponents in the first half, during which the home side failed to register a single attempt on goal. The ball was in the Rochester net following a corner in the 2nd minute, when Tony Coxall dropped the ball before it was forced over the line, but the assistant had spotted an infringement and the effort was ruled out. Whitstable only had to wait until the 8th minute though to take the lead, when Shaun Welford helped the ball on to Williams and he twisted and turned as he worked a good position in the box to curl the ball past Coxall and defender Andy Pierce on the line.

The goalkeeper drops a Josh Burchell cross
The ball is in the net, but the flag is raised
Danny Williams gives Whitstable the lead
It’s 1-0 to Whitstable

Pierce then handled a long forward pass 30 yards out and the free kick by Josh Burchell was met by Teddy Nelson, whose header was parried by Coxall and then after a couple of follow up attempts were also blocked, Welford fired the loose ball over the top. Rob Gillman played the ball down the right wing for John Walker and Chris Saunders got on the end of his cross, but his near post header was saved by Coxall. Another Burchell free kick was headed wide by Tom Bryant from the 18 yard line. On 23 minutes, Whitstable eventually got their second goal when a free kick from their own half was flicked on by Smith for Williams, who coolly lobbed the ball over Coxall and into the net. Shortly afterwards, another Burchell cross was fumbled by the busy Rochester goalkeeper, who was fortunate when the ball hit Welford and rebounded just wide of the post.

Tony Coxall makes one of many saves
The ball rebounds off Shaun Welford, but runs just past the post

Rochester did win a corner on 30 minutes that was only partially cleared, but the Whitstable defence were quickly in place to close down the ball as the home side tried to get a shot at goal. The action soon returned to the other end, as a clever header on by Williams created a chance for Welford, but Coxall made a good double save to deny him. From the next Whitstable corner, there followed a goalmouth scramble that ended with Stuart West shooting wide. A deep Burchell cross was then misjudged by Coxall, but Williams could not keep his header down and the ball went over the top of the unguarded net. Another corner flew invitingly across the box, with no one there to apply the final touch and the last action of the half saw Burchell shoot wide from 35 yards.

Goalmouth pressure
Another close range shot is blocked

Whitstable did not have long to wait after the half time break for their third goal. In the 48th minute, Welford and Walker combined to play the ball into the box where Smith neatly chipped the ball over Coxall from around the penalty spot and the ball dropped into the net.

Charlie Smith lobs the goalkeeper
Whitstable lead 3-0

Rochester then introduced their first substitute, before a good passage of play by Whitstable ended with a dangerous Williams cross just being cut out. Shortly after another home substitution, Rochester managed their first shot on goal in the 64th minute. Dan Nash set up Marlou Peter-Brown, but his shot from outside the box was easily saved by Shaw. The speedy Shingirai Chiriseri broke down the right wing and pulled the ball back for Nash, but he lifted his shot over the bar. Whitstable then took off Saunders and introduced the first of two academy players, Owen Fitt, from the bench. Yet another cross by Burchell was headed down by Williams, but the ball bounced over the bar, before Rhys Brain replaced Welford.

Danny Williams almost gets another hat trick, but this header is just off target

The game was quietly drifting to a close, but Williams was still after a hat trick and made several runs across the box without being able to get a shot at goal. After 83 minutes, Whitstable did get another goal when a ball out of defence by another of the young academy players, Nelson, found Williams and as he was challenged by Coxall, the ball broke to Brain who found the far corner with a good finish, before running across to celebrate with his manager. Rochester had a couple of late opportunities for a consolation. On 90 minutes, a corner was headed well wide, but then in added time Kieran Mulkerrins passed to Nash, who tried to find the top right corner from distance, but Shaw got across well to turn the ball around the post.

Rhys Brain is about to get to the ball
His shot finds the far corner for his first Whitstable goal

A 4-0 win therefore meant that Whitstable will finish in the top two, still with a slim chance of the title should Sevenoaks slip up in their final two games. It was later confirmed by the FA, that there would be no reprieves for the teams finishing bottom of the Step 4 leagues and any vacancies would be filled by the remainder of the runners up from Step 5, followed if necessary by the best third placed teams. At present, there are likely to be at least three additional teams promoted from Step 5 due to clubs above either folding or merging at the end of the current season, so after a 27 game unbeaten run, Whitstable have done enough to secure a return to the Bostik League after a two year absence.

Rochester Whitstable
4 Attempts 18
2 On Target 10
3 Corners 3
2 Offside 3
12 Free Kicks Won 12

Rochester United
Tony Coxall, Kieron Simms (Kieran Mulkerrins 63), Ralph Katikaza, Marlou Peter-Brown, Andy Pierce (c), Temi Eweka, Dan Nash, Donnell Anderson (Reion McFarlane 48), Jack Healey, Shingirai Chiriseri, Merrick Simms.
Sub (unused): Owen Price

Whitstable Town
Nick Shaw, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Teddy Nelson, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (c), Chris Saunders (Owen Fitt 69), Charlie Smith, Shaun Welford (Rhys Brain 76), Danny Williams, Stuart West.
Subs (unused): Craig Cloke, Ricky Freeman, Louis Sprosen.
Goals: Danny Williams 8, 23, Charlie Smith 48, Rhys Brain 83.

Attendance: 93
Referee: Stuart Marriott
Assistants: Steven Tunnicliffe & Joshua Marshall

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