EASTBOURNE TOWN 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 (After Extra Time – Score after 90 minutes 1-1)
Eastbourne Town won 3-1 on penalties
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Tuesday August 23 19.45
Whitstable went out of the FA Cup at Eastbourne 3-1 on penalties after a battling display.
Harris Rodgers put Whitstable ahead after 20 minutes, but afterwards it was only a determined defensive display that kept Eastbourne out until late in the second half. The home side finally equalised in the 76th minute with a Chris Cuming-Bart shot from distance that beat keeper Dan Eason. There were no further goals and despite being second best throughout and picking up a number of injuries Whitstable defended heroically to take the tie to penalties. Unfortunately the first three Whitstable attempts were all saved by the young reserve Eastbourne keeper and the Sussex side deservedly progressed to the next round. The home side’s match-winner Louis Rogers was a last minute replacement in goal for the experienced Greg Nessling after an injury picked up before the kick-off.
Harry Brown started in place of the injured Callum Wraight at left back and Joe Kennett returned to the Whitstable starting line-up on a warm, calm evening at The Saffrons ground. A number of players fell to the ground in the opening minutes, but the referee waved all the appeals away as he set the tone for the evening. The first 20 minutes were evenly contested as Eastbourne’s wide players looked dangerous and Craig Thompson shot wide for Whitstable before the visitors took the lead. A long run out of defence by Ollie Lee was ended by a foul 25 yards from goal and although Aaron Quain’s free kick was blocked by the wall, the loose ball was picked up by Rodgers who turned and fired in under Rogers to open the scoring.
After falling behind Eastbourne gradually took control of the game and created a number of good chances. Aaron Capon broke clear and shot straight at Eason, who was being kept busy. A couple of headers were just over and then Jason Taylor’s finish was also too high when he only had Eason to beat. A rare Whitstable attack saw Thompson head Quain’s cross over the bar. Just before half time Lee Winfield had to leave the field injured and this was perhaps a key moment in the tie. Wesley Tate and Taylor again failed to take good chances for the home side before the break.
The second half was largely a story of Eastbourne piling on the pressure and Whitstable defending really well with only the occasional break or long ball up the field, although Rodgers did have a couple of half chances to get a vital second goal. Eastbourne went close a number of times and pushed defender Sean Ray up front and he had a couple of headers just off target. It appeared that Quain, Jamie Collado and Nick Treadwell were all injured, but they soldiered on trying to help the defence protect the lead. Just as it was starting to look as though the one goal might be enough, Eastbourne found the goal they had threatened as substitute Cuming-Bart tried his luck from 30 yards and his low shot found its way past Eason into the far corner. It may have taken a slight deflection or possibly the keeper was unsighted as it passed through a crowded box, but he was just unable to keep it out. Eason was to make a good save from an Ethan Strevett header shortly afterwards and then another Ray header was over the top and the game went into extra time.
The first additional period saw a couple of chances for each team, with Matt Darby shooting just wide and a free kick was struck into the wall after a foul by Lee, which earned him a yellow card. At the other end Rodgers was thwarted by the keeper and a Scott Punton free kick just evaded Treadwell.
The final 15 minutes saw at one time Treadwell, Quain and Lee all down receiving treatment, but unbelievably Whitstable started to have more of the ball as the home side perhaps began to run out of ideas and penalties looked ever more likely. Whitstable won their first corner of a long night after 108 minutes – Eastbourne had eleven.
Whitstable went first from the spot, but Rogers saved from Quain, Harry Brown and Charlie Smith and the game was lost despite Eason saving Darby’s effort and Lee finding the net with his. It just remained for Strevett to tuck his penalty away and the home celebrations could begin.
It was a fair outcome given the performances over the two ties. The Whitstable team can be proud of their gutsy defensive display, but ultimately were unable to create enough to win the tie. Hopefully some of the key players can recover in time for a busy Bank Holiday weekend of league action.
Louis Rogers, Sam Willett, Dan Bolwell, Alan Foster, Sean Ray, Callum Sherriff, Jason Taylor (Chris Cuming-Bart 71), Ethan Strevett, Drew Greenall (Matt Darby 65), Wesley Tate (c), Aaron Capon.
Subs (unused): Sam Smith, James Stone, Jake Botting, Greg Nessling.
Goal: Chris Cuming-Bart 76.
Dan Eason (c), Scott Punton, Harry Brown, Ollie Lee, Joe Kennett, Lee Winfield (Ollie Brown 40), Nick Treadwell, Jamie Collado (Charlie Smith 90), Craig Thompson (Newman Poku 69), Harris Rodgers, Aaron Quain.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Goal: Harris Rodgers 20.
Yellow cards: Charlie Smith 90, Ollie Lee 99, Newman Poku 119.
Whitstable Town 1
Aaron Quain (saved), Harry Brown (saved), Charlie Smith (saved), Ollie Lee (scored).
Eastbourne Town 3
Wesley Tate (scored), Matt Darby (saved), Dan Bolwell (scored), Ethan Strevett (scored).
Referee: Carl Smith
Assistants: Darren Evans & Daniel Hague