Bryant Double Steals The Points

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 1 2017 15.00

Two first half goals from skipper Tom Bryant gave a much depleted Whitstable side another win on their travels, although Bearsted will feel they played well enough to have deserved something from the game. The home side made the better start, but were undone by two set pieces. Most of the attacking football after the break was played by Bearsted, particularly down their left side, as Whitstable picked up another couple of injuries and rarely threatened to add to their score. Despite pulling a goal back through Peter Williams soon after the restart though, Bearsted were unable to beat Dan Eason again and the reunited Rowland brothers almost created a third for Whitstable towards the end.

It was a reshuffled Whitstable team that ran out for a first competitive visit to Honey Lane, where Bearsted had recently beaten Ashford and drawn with Sheppey. The defence had an unfamiliar look with Rob Gillman, Ashley Brown, Aaron Quain and Connor Hood all unavailable due to injury, illness or work commitments. Bola Dawodu and Harris Rodgers also missed out through injury, but James Morrish and Harry Brown were back from suspension and Seb Rowland was also available, having returned from university for a second spell with the club.

Bearsted were soon on the attack and, as Whitstable struggled to clear an early corner, a shot from the edge of the box bounced awkwardly but was kept out by the body of Eason. The Whitstable goalkeeper took a knock as he dived to gather a dangerous low cross from the left and Reece Collins then shot over from around 25 yards. On 7 minutes Frankie Sawyer won a corner for the visitors and took it himself from the left. It went deep across to Brown who played it back into the box where Craig Thompson hit a first time shot that struck the near post and the ball rebounded into the path of Bryant who made no mistake to open the scoring.

Craig Thompson hits the post
Tom Bryant is first to the rebound

The home side continued to press however and a Williams cross was headed tamely at Eason by Constantin Scarlat. A free kick into the box went just past Calvin Sedenu, almost giving Graeme Andrews a free header, but it just evaded him. After a couple more Bearsted corners, Lucian Scarlat shot straight at Eason and then Williams broke clear but could only shoot into the side netting. Just after the half hour mark a Whitstable corner was nodded down by Sedenu, but cleared away. Bearsted had another period of pressure before Kane Rowland was fouled and Brown played the ball to Morrish and his shot from outside the box was deflected for a corner. As Sawyer swung the ball across, Bryant came through a crowd of players and powered his header into the net to double the lead on 40 minutes.

James Morrish tries a shot from distance
Tom Bryant heads the second
Whitstable 2 Bearsted 0

Almost from the restart, Bearsted should have pulled a goal back as a great cross from the left was headed wide by Collins when he looked certain to score. Lucian Scarlat, the Bearsted left winger who looked the best player on the pitch, then volleyed just over from the edge of the box and just before the interval he ran through but shot at Eason.

At the start of the second half a Lucian Scarlat cross caused a bit of panic in the Whitstable defence and as the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Matt Garner forced Eason to get down to save his low shot. Some good play on the Whitstable right led to Morrish sending the ball across, where Sawyer shot wide of the target. Bearsted then found a way back into the game on 49 minutes as Lucian Scarlat crossed low from the left and Williams was there to shoot high into the net from close range.

Peter Williams scores for Bearsted

Dan Smith then replaced a limping Brown for Whitstable, before another great low cross by Lucian Scarlat was scrambled clear. At the other end a good run by Sawyer was ended by Graeme Andrews with the ball rolling across the 18 yard line, where it was lifted just over the top by Morrish. Lucian Scarlat was causing lots of problems down the left, ably assisted by Cameron Croucher, and after he saw a shot saved by Eason he got to the goal line again and pulled the ball back for Matt Garner who shot over the bar. Kane Rowland made a good run for Whitstable to win a corner that was cleared, before Sawyer had to leave the field to be replaced by Brendon Cass. Bryant was booked for stopping the ball going over his head with a raised hand and both teams made substitutions on 69 minutes with Seb Rowland coming on for Thompson and Ollie Wells replacing the Bearsted goal scorer Williams.

Dan Eason saves this effort

Kane Rowland had a low shot saved by Scott Andrews after a mazy run and a Dan Smith cross was volleyed over by namesake Charlie. Lucian Scarlat hit a low shot that led to a big scramble, but the Whitstable defence eventually cleared the danger. A cross from Seb Rowland to brother Kane just failed to fall nicely for him to get a shot away. The last good opportunity for an equaliser came on 90 minutes as Morrish was booked for a challenge 25 yards out, but the free kick by Michael Holliday went wide. The final whistle sounded after Eason has safely claimed a long ball forward and Whitstable had a hard earned, and perhaps a little fortunate, 2-1 win.

Another win – just

Ashford United visit the Belmont on Tuesday, effectively needing to win their last five games to secure the title. Hopefully Whitstable might have a couple of their missing players back for what is sure to be a stern test.

Scott Andrews, Sam Flisher, Cameron Croucher, Andrew Foster (c), Graeme Andrews, Michael Holliday, Reece Collins, Matt Garner (Chris Carcary 86), Peter Williams (Ollie Wells 69), Constantin Scarlat, Lucian Scarlat.
Subs (unused): Ryan Golding, Stephen Sage, Ben Donnelly.
Goal: Peter Williams 49

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Charlie Smith, Harry Brown (Dan Smith 50), Tom Bryant (c), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Jack Mahoney, James Morrish, Craig Thompson (Seb Rowland 69), Frankie Sawyer (Brendon Cass 63), Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Declan Kirk, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Tom Bryant 7, 40.
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 64, James Morrish 90+1.

Attendance: 61
Referee: Daniel Procter
Assistants: Sam Jackson & Danny Swannell