WHITSTABLE TOWN 3 ROCHESTER UNITED 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Monday April 16 2018 19.45
Whitstable continued their quest for the treble, scoring three goals without reply, against bottom of the table Rochester United. This was the 10th consecutive win in the space of 27 days and extended the unbeaten run to 23 matches. After a lively start, Whitstable were gifted the first goal when Charlie Smith helped the ball on and a Rochester defender tried a back pass, but only succeeded in striking the ball low and hard past his own goalkeeper from around 25 yards. James Morrish added a second with a good left footed finish a few minutes later. Ricky Freeman ballooned the ball over the bar on the stroke of half time with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Stuart West headed in a corner shortly after the restart to make sure of the points. Despite their lowly league position, Rochester caused a few problems for the home defence with some pacy runs and Nick Shaw, who replaced Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal, had to make three great interceptions to prevent them scoring. A late Macauley Murray free kick struck the post, but with just two days until the next match, thoughts were already turning elsewhere.
This was the first meeting between the two sides this season, as a consequence of earlier postponements. Dan Eason sat out his first game of the season, with Nick Shaw pulling on a Whitstable shirt for the first time in five years. John Walker, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant and Danny Williams were also missing for various reasons, with Josh Burchell, Craig Cloke, Teddy Nelson and Charlie Smith returning to the team. Rochester United came into the game 12 points adrift at the foot of the table and with only 3 league wins all season, but had achieved creditable draws against Chatham and Cray Valley during March.
Rochester won an early corner, but Whitstable soon started to create chances. Freeman swept the ball across from left to right for Louis Sprosen, who played in Morrish, but his shot hit the side netting. After Morrish had tried again with a shot that was too high, West headed a Murray corner just over. Rochester always carried a threat on the break and Shingirai Chiriseri made a promising run down the right and whipped the ball across the box, but there was no one there to get on the end of it. Smith rose to flick the ball on and Jack Healey tried to pass it back to his goalkeeper from outside the box, but hit it too firmly and it went straight into the net to gift Whitstable the lead in the 12th minute.
Jai McKinlay tried a long shot that was easily saved by Shaw, but then in the 20th minute a poor Rochester clearance went straight to Freeman, who crossed from the right. Smith knocked the ball down to the edge of the area, where Morrish struck a left footed shot into the right hand corner of the net, just out of reach of the diving Tony Coxall.
Luke Saggers was presented with a sight of goal at the other end, but shot straight at Shaw. It was then Morrish who tried again, but this time he was denied by Coxall and the resulting corner from Murray was cleared off the line, leading to a quick break by the visitors that Whitstable did well to block. Freeman, Burchell and West all had attempts to add a third goal, before Rochester won the ball on the halfway line and sent Merrick Simms clear, but Shaw did really well to come out and save at his feet. In the last minute before half time, Smith challenged for a high ball and it fell invitingly for Freeman, but just as he looked like adding to the lead, he lifted his shot high into the night sky. There was still time for Burchell to head a Sprosen cross over the bar, before the teams went in with the score still 2-0.
Just a couple of minutes into the second half, a corner from the right taken by Burchell was headed in from close range by West. From this point on, the game felt like it was drifting to an inevitable home win and both teams started making substitutions. Whitstable soon introduced Shaun Welford, then Owen Fitt and Rhys Brain and Rochester also tried to change things around.
Welford helped to create a chance for Fitt, but he shot over. Smith became the only home player to be cautioned following a poor tackle in midfield. On 77 minutes, Shaw was quickly out again to make a save on the edge of the box as Chandler Kasai raced clear of the home defence. Fitt made a bit of room for himself before shooting just wide and then Sprosen was pulled down 20 yards from goal, earning a booking for Ralph Katikaza. Murray took the free kick and was unlucky to see the ball strike the inside of the post and rebound to safety.
Brain had a shot saved after running on to a Welford header. There were a couple of late chances for a consolation Rochester goal. Dan Nash rolled a free kick into the path of Owen Price who sent his shot way over the top and there was one more dangerous break by Kasai, but his shot was once again well saved by the alert Shaw.
The Rochester goalkeeper made the final save of the match when he collected a deflected shot by Sprosen in last added minute, leaving the score at 3-0 and another three points were banked. Canterbury await on Wednesday, as the crazy end of season fixture list continues. With 38 league matches during the 9 month season, 12 of them will have been played during the final 31 days.
|9||Free Kicks Won||9|
Nick Shaw, Louis Sprosen, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Teddy Nelson, Chris Saunders (Rhys Brain 75), James Morrish (Owen Fitt 65), Ricky Freeman (Shaun Welford 56), Charlie Smith, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Tom Bryant, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Jack Healey o.g. 12, James Morrish 20, Stuart West 47.
Yellow card: Charlie Smith 73
Tony Coxall, Dan Nash (c), Ralph Katikaza, Marlou Peter-Brown, Freeman Rogers, Jack Healey (Donnell Anderson 65), Jai McKinlay, Jamie Rawsthorne, Shingirai Chiriseri (Owen Price 59), Luke Saggers (Chandler Kasai 67), Merrick Simms.
Sub (unused): Darren Onslow
Yellow card: Ralph Katikaza 84
Referee: Zoltan Konkoly
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Ryan Andrew