A Winning Start In The Heat

Pre-season friendly
Saturday July 14 2018 15.00

The first pre-season fixture brought Tunbridge Wells to the Belmont on a very warm Saturday afternoon. The two teams had met at the end of last season in the SCEFL Challenge Cup Final, when a great Ricky Freeman goal settled a tight game. Freeman was on target again in this fixture, adding the second goal after a Brett Ince free kick just before the interval had opening the scoring.

Whitstable were missing six regulars for this opening game and Chris Saunders was nursing a minor injury and started on the bench. The home team started well and an early cross led to a header being saved and then a loose ball was picked up by Freeman, but he was denied by the goalkeeper. Tunbridge Wells won a couple of corners and from the second, the ball was rolled back only for a curling shot to clip the top of the Whitstable bar. Both teams had efforts just over the top before play was briefly stopped for a drinks break. When play resumed John Walker set up Freeman, who tried from distance and his shot was pushed behind for a corner. The delivery from Dan Stubbs was met by Tom Bryant, but his header was tipped over the bar. Freeman found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat when a through ball was missed by the last defender, but his effort was saved. Whitstable won two late free kicks, the first of which was struck into the wall by Freeman. On 45 minutes though, Ince struck a 35 yard free kick beautifully and it flew into the top corner beyond the reach of the stretching Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper.

An early Whitstable chance
Ricky Freeman is denied
Fighting for the ball on a hot afternoon
A Brett Ince free kick gives Whitstable the lead

An early Whitstable free kick in the second half gave Ince another chance, but this time his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Tunbridge Wells had a good spell, winning several corners and had another effort strike the top of the bar before Dan Eason was forced into a good save, turning a 20 yard shot around his right hand post. At the other end, Freeman almost finished off a good Whitstable move, but he did get on the scoresheet after 66 minutes, finishing well after being found by strike partner Nathan Hardwick. Both teams made a number of substitutions to give everyone an opportunity and the game ended quietly as the heat made conditions testing on this mid-July afternoon.

Ricky Freeman scores the second

Whitstable next play on Tuesday evening, when a Gillingham XI visit the Belmont.

Whitstable Tun Wells
10 Attempts 7
5 On Target 4
5 Corners 7
5 Offside 2
5 Free Kicks Won 9

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Dan Stubbs, James Webb, John Walker, Teddy Nelson, Tom Bryant, Jai McKinlay, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman, Nathan Hardwick, Brett Ince.
Subs (all used): Josh Spencer, Harry Saunders, Kyran Connolly, Chris Saunders, Rhys Brain, Mark Sipton.
Goals: Brett Ince 45, Ricky Freeman 66.

Tunbridge Wells
Team not provided

Attendance: 73
Referee: Mike Marsh
Assistants: Matt McCaughan & Chris Cannon