WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 RAMSGATE 0
Bostik League South East
Wednesday December 26 2018 15.00
A Stephen Smith goal on the half hour mark was enough to earn three points for Whitstable in this Christmas fixture against Ramsgate. On a sticky pitch, there were not too many clear cut chances, but Dan Eason saved an early shot by Aaron Millbank. After George Crimmen had denied Smith with a great block, the Whitstable striker flicked a header past Luke Watkins from a Chris Elliott long throw. The Ramsgate goalkeeper made a great save to keep out an Elliott free kick just before the interval. Whitstable saw out the second half in relative comfort, as the visitors failed to offer any serious threat to Eason.
With some clubs preferring to play their Christmas fixtures during the preceding weekend, this was one of only three Boxing Day games in the Bostik South East division. Neither team was in the best of form, with each having taken only one point from their previous four games and both managers had to cope with the unavailability of several players. Whitstable had earned a valuable draw in Guernsey with a severely depleted squad, but had a few players back for this game, although Teddy Nelson, Charlie Smith and Harry Brown were out and John Walker and Ricky Freeman continued their recovery from injury on the bench. New signing James Trueman, a left sided player from Greenways, was named as a substitute. Ramsgate, who had won the reverse fixture 4-1 back in August, have since had some boardroom changes and a new manager in former Sittingbourne boss Nick Davis. They were missing Tom Chapman, Harry Stannard and Charlie Dickens due to injury, but included Luke Watkins, Jake Mackenzie, George Crimmen, Ollie Gray and Tijan Jadama, who had all previously played for Whitstable. Trey Williams also started, having just signed from Whyteleafe.
The game started quietly on a cold, fine day, but the pitch was quite heavy after the recent rain. Jordan Wright made a good run down the left and sent over a low cross that eluded everyone in the box. Ramsgate however looked the brighter team in the early stages and Mackenzie crossed for Millbank at the near post, but his low shot was parried by Eason and Rob Gillman did well to clear the danger. Rory Smith then headed a left wing cross well over the bar. The main Whitstable threat was coming from the long throws of Elliott and in the 20th minute, one fell to Stephen Smith in the box, but his fierce strike was blocked by Crimmen who threw himself in the way. It was another Elliott throw that led to Whitstable taking the lead in the 30th minute, as Stephen Smith rose to glance a header past Watkins and into the net.
A Ramsgate free kick from their own half took a deflection before being safely gathered by Eason and then Rory Smith shot over after a throw in had only been partially cleared. Ramsgate forced Eason into another save, when Millbank broke away following a Whitstable free kick at the other end. On 38 minutes, Sam Welch was tripped around 25 yards from goal and Elliott struck a great free kick towards the top left corner, but Watkins managed a great one handed save and when the ball came out to Louis Sprosen, his shot from a narrow angle was turned around the near post for a corner. Sprosen then chased a long ball down the left, before curling his shot wide of the far post. In added time, a sequence of robust challenges from several players was eventually ended by the referee, who showed the only yellow card of the game to James Morrish and Whitstable went into the break leading 1-0.
The holiday crowd of around three hundred might have expected a challenging second half for the home defence, but Ramsgate failed to really test Eason and with the pitch becoming trickier as time went by, it looked more likely that the one goal would be enough to secure the points. Stephen Smith tried an early shot that went straight to Watkins and then Jack Penny chipped a tame effort into the hands of Eason. A short spell of Ramsgate pressure finished with a low shot being gathered just outside the post by the Whitstable goalkeeper. Whitstable made a double change, with Sprosen and an injured Gillman and being replaced by Trueman, who came on for his debut, and Michael Jenner. The visitors had a couple of corners and then Luke Wheatley turned and shot well over the top.
Ramsgate introduced Sam Lawford and Jadama in an attempt to find a goal, but their more direct approach was on the whole comfortably dealt with by the Whitstable defence. Stephen Smith made a good run and saw his deflected shot blocked by Watkins, before he was replaced by Tom Walmsley for the last few minutes. Elliott tried a late long throw that was cleared back to him and he struck a long range shot that was saved by Watkins. There was a last opportunity for the Rams to claim a point with a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area in added time, but with everyone going up for the set piece, Millbank curled the ball disappointingly wide of the far post.
After a difficult few games, it was a welcome three points for Whitstable, who now move five points ahead of Ramsgate and with more players set to return shortly, they will hope for some more consistency as they head into the New Year. Next up is a trip to Hythe on the final Saturday of 2018.
|10||Free Kicks Won||15|
Dan Eason, Sam Welch, Chris Elliott, Stuart West, Rob Gillman (Michael Jenner 52), Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c), Stephen Smith (Tom Walmsley 83), Jordan Wright, Louis Sprosen (James Trueman 52).
Subs (unused): Ricky Freeman, John Walker.
Goal: Stephen Smith 30
Yellow card: James Morrish 45+1
Luke Watkins, Jake Mackenzie, George Crimmen, Jacob Mensah, Luke Wheatley (c), Connor Sanders, Trey Williams (Tijan Jadama 78), Ollie Gray, Aaron Millbank, Rory Smith (Sam Lawford 71), Jack Penny.
Subs (unused): Damon Todd, Matthew Bone.
Referee: Ben Bowles
Assistants: Joe Mckay & Joe Dann-Pye