SUTTON ATHLETIC 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 4
Macron SCEFL Challenge Cup Quarter final
Tuesday February 7 2017 19.45
Whitstable progressed to the semi-finals of the Macron SCEFL Challenge Cup with a comfortable win at Sutton Athletic. The home side looked confident following their 9-0 win against Snodland at the weekend and played some good football at times, particularly in the first half. Dan Eason was rarely troubled though in the Town goal, whereas the Sutton goalkeeper Charlie Beardsley was often called upon, making a number of good saves. Kane Rowland opened the scoring as an attempted clearance rebounded off him into the net and Bola Dawodu headed a second from a corner soon afterwards. Mike Mills rose unchallenged to head a corner past Eason just before the break to give Sutton hope. Whitstable though added two further goals without reply in the second half, the first a great curling shot by Charlie Smith who then crossed for Rowland to finish at the far post. Eason did have to make one good save to deny top scorer Arlie Desanges, but Whitstable made it safely through to the last four of the competition.
Sutton Athletic play in the First Division of the Southern Counties East League and were sitting in fifth place having scored 85 league goals already this season. It was a first visit to the London Hire Stadium in Hextable for Whitstable. The ground is situated in plenty of open space with a large parking area and a combined clubhouse and changing room in the corner. The pitch and lights were good, but facilities otherwise were very basic with no stand seating and the venue would not currently be able to host football at a higher level. The home side were missing Jonny Murray, one of their 20 goal strikers, but Whitstable had almost a full squad available. The first 20 minutes were quite even with both sides playing some nice football at times. Sutton won three corners that were swung in dangerously by Daniel Gunner, but they were well defended. Rowland, Smith and Connor Hood all had attempts on goal for Whitstable. On 25 minutes though the visitors took the lead as Aaron Quain sent in a dangerous low cross from the left and as goalkeeper Beardsley tried to clear the ball rebounded off Rowland and back into the net.
Ollie Lee then surged forward and started a good move involving Quain, Dawodu, Hood and Rowland, but the Sutton defence managed to clear. Smith played the ball through to Hood whose shot was saved by Beardsley. On 30 minutes a Quain corner was headed past the keeper and two defenders on the posts by Dawodu to double the lead.
Gunner could only fire a free kick into the Whitstable wall after Daniel Westerman was brought down on the edge of the penalty area, but then on 40 minutes the visitors defence failed to deal with another Gunner corner and an unmarked Mills planted a firm header past Eason to pull a goal back. There was still time before the break for Whitstable to carve out four more good chances. Hood and Dawodu set up Lee whose shot was deflected for a corner, then a Smith shot from 20 yards was well saved. From the resulting corner by Hood, the ball was glanced just wide by Dawodu and then Hood slipped the ball through to Smith, but his low shot was blocked by the feet of Beardsley.
Joe Kennett limped off early in the second half to be replaced by Calvin Sedenu. After 58 minutes the two goal cushion was restored with the best goal of the game as Rowland passed the ball to Smith on the left and he curled it over Beardsley and into the top corner from around 25 yards.
A long shot by Quain was parried by Beardsley and a scramble in the box ended with a corner, which came out to Smith who saw his lobbed effort cleared away. Sutton did win four corners themselves in the second half, but never looked as much of an attacking threat as they had done earlier. Their best chance though came on 62 minutes as Desanges got on the end of a ball from midfield, but Eason made a good save as he looked likely to score. Back at the other end, Smith tried another shot that was saved at the near post. Rowland broke down the right, but was unable to find a way past Beardsley. Smith set up Lee who nearly got in on goal, but was crowded out. On 80 minutes a good ball by Hood down the right found Smith who beat the covering defender and sent the ball across the goal, where it just evaded substitute Craig Thompson only for Rowland to fire home at the far post. A late Smith header was saved after Will Roomes had picked up the only card of the night for a foul on Rowland.
Whitstable scored four goals, but their defensive display against a side that have scored plenty themselves this season was also very good. Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman, Kennett and his replacement Sedenu all had solid games at the back and they were ably supported by Tom Bryant and Lee, who won a lot of balls in midfield. Whitstable progress to the last four, where they are joined by Sheppey, Sevenoaks and either Cray Valley or Ashford.
Charlie Beardsley, Marvin Francis, Luke Newman (Chris Page 90+1), Mike Mills (Ben Martin 72), Sean Heather, Chris Mirrlees, Daniel Gunner, Ben Williams (c), Arlie Desanges, Will Roomes, Daniel Westerman.
Subs (unused): Joe Hill, Darren Wheeler.
Goal: Mike Mills 40
Yellow card: Will Roomes 87
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain (Harry Brown 75), Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Ollie Lee, Tom Bryant, Bola Dawodu (Craig Thompson 78), Kane Rowland, Charlie Smith, Joe Kennett (Calvin Sedenu 55).
Subs (unused): Harris Rodgers, Harry Brooks.
Goals: Kane Rowland 25, 80, Bola Dawodu 30, Charlie Smith 58.
Referee: Shane Brown
Assistants: Harry Phillips & Jamie Paternoster