Bryant Heads Town Into Last 64

WHITSTABLE TOWN 3 EPSOM AND EWELL 2 (After Extra Time – Score After 90 Minutes 2-2)
Buildbase FA Vase Second Round
Saturday November 11 2017 15.00

Whitstable made it safely through to the FA Vase third round, but were made to work hard by their Combined Counties League opponents Epsom and Ewell. The home side were generally on top and had the majority of the chances, but were unable to secure the win in normal time, as the visitors defended well and always carried enough threat on the break to cause some concern. It was Epsom and Ewell that took the lead, when Liam Roberts was brought down in the box by Rob Gillman and then followed up to score after Dan Eason had initially saved his penalty kick. Josh Burchell equalised, turning in a shot across goal by Charlie Smith. Whitstable had much the better of the second half, pushing the visitors back for long periods, but they only had a neat finish by Tijan Jadama to show for their efforts and they were made to pay towards the end when Ben Dyson fired home from a corner to send the tie into extra time. It was the third consecutive FA Vase tie that Whitstable have had to play an additional half an hour, but once again they found a winner, with Tom Bryant heading a Macauley Murray cross past Conor Young to book a place in the draw on Monday.

Two Whitstable Town academy players, Ryan Birch and Rhys Brain, were added to the first team squad during the week and both were named on the bench for this fixture. Stuart West and Ricky Freeman were still unavailable due to suspension and captain Craig Cloke joined Shaun Welford on the injury list. Epsom and Ewell, who were making their first visit to the Belmont since 1954, have suffered all season from player unavailability and are yet to win a league match, although they did enjoy a big win at Rusthall in the previous round of the FA Vase.

The home side had marginally the better of the early stages, but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested until Epsom and Ewell took the lead in the 14th minute. Roberts found himself one on one with Gillman and got into the box before going down as the Whitstable defender made a challenge. The referee decided that he had seen enough to award a penalty and Roberts picked himself up to take the spot kick. He struck a very tame shot straight at Eason, but the goalkeeper could only push the ball back into his path and he just managed to get enough on the ball to roll it into the net. Roberts almost got in again a minute later, but this time Eason was able to collect the ball at his feet before he could shoot.

Liam Roberts tucks away the rebound after Dan Eason had saved his penalty

Whitstable seemed stunned by events for a time, but gradually improved their attacking threat and a good pass by Bryant released Danny Williams, who raced into the box before being denied by the goalkeeper Young. Gillman rose to meet the resulting corner, but his header was just wide. The equaliser came on 22 minutes when Louis Sprosen played the ball in to Smith, who showed good strength to turn and shoot across goal, where Burchell was in the right position to guide the ball into the net from close range.

Josh Burchell guides the ball from Charlie Smith into the net

Smith headed a Burchell free kick wide of the far post and he then held the ball up well in the box before laying it back into the path of Sprosen who shot wide from 20 yards. Williams won an aerial challenge in midfield and ran on to the ball himself before being stopped by Young, who pushed the ball out for a corner that was only cleared to the edge of the box to the waiting Burchell and his shot was blocked by Alex McKay. Smith shot into the side netting after the referee played the advantage following a foul on Williams. The visitors had a brief spell on the front foot when a Dale Marvell free kick from 30 yards struck the Whitstable wall, before Sean White had a shot deflected over the bar and George Murphy had a header easily caught by Eason. Bryant was booked when he won a header but was adjudged to have unfairly caught Dan Rose in the face at the same time and Kane Grandison also saw yellow for bringing down Sprosen as he tried to break forward. The score remained 1-1 at the interval.

Whitstable came out for the second half looking determined to push forward more effectively and Burchell had two early shots just off target. Smith went past a couple of opponents before being fouled 25 yards out and Murray struck the wall from the free kick. After another spell of pressure, Murray chipped the ball into the box where Smith headed wide and then Williams was flattened by Marvell who was duly booked by the increasingly busy referee. Whitstable were in front on 56 minutes when Smith did well on the left and played the ball into the box where it was neatly guided into the far corner by Jadama.

TJ Jadama had a good game in midfield
TJ Jadama (out of shot) puts Whitstable 2-1 ahead

It was pretty much one way traffic for the next 25 minutes, but Whitstable could not find a way through to give themselves a cushion and despite being on top, they failed to get any attempts on target in this period. Bryant headed over before Sprosen was booked for a foul and subsequently replaced by John Walker, whose first touch was a header just off target from a long free kick. Three yellow cards in a couple of minutes followed, Roberts and Rose committing fouls for the Surrey side and Williams also booked for dissent. Joe Jasper replaced Rose for the last few minutes, as Epsom and Ewell looked for a way back into the game. They got their opportunity on 83 minutes, when a harmless looking long ball forward was headed behind for a corner. The ball was played to the near post where the unmarked Dyson fired the ball first time into the roof of the net. Whitstable won a couple of late corners and had three more efforts on goal, all off target, before the whistle sounded with the teams locked at 2-2.

Danny Williams on the attack

Epsom and Ewell apparently only had twelve fit players, so had limited options during extra time. Smith had an effort deflected into the hands of Young before Burchell was replaced by Jack West, whose first action was to head a deep cross from the right just past the post. Young kept out another Smith header and then did well to push a 25 yard shot by Murray over the bar, but the teams could still not be separated as they changed ends for the last time.

The pressure finally told with 108 minutes played. A good cross shot by Smith was touched behind for a corner by Young. Murray sent the ball in and it came back out to the left, but this time the cross was met by Bryant who directed a header beyond the reach of Young and into the net.

Conor Young is beaten and Whitstable lead 3-2
The scorer leads the celebrations.

Young kept out another header, before Smith found himself in a great position in the box and looked certain to score, but the ball was somehow deflected over the bar for a corner. The ball was forced into the net as Young was challenged under the bar, but the effort was ruled out for a foul. Bryant and Smith were both denied from close range headers. There was always the feeling that the visitors would create one more chance to force a replay and with time running out a deep Lloyd Connelly free kick was helped on by McKay to Dyson who dragged his shot well wide of the far post. Whitstable tried to run down the clock in the corner, although in added time a good long run by Dyson briefly threatened before Eason had to get down to make one final save.

Charlie Smith sees his header kept out
Charlie Smith is Man of the Match on his 148th appearance

Whitstable progress to third round and await the draw on Monday. It was an entertaining cup tie, but they will know that they will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to progress much further in the competition.

Whitstable Epsom & Ewell
30 Attempts 8
12 On Target 5
11 Corners 3
2 Offside 6
19 Free Kicks Won 17

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Louis Sprosen (John Walker 74), Josh Burchell (Jack West 96), Rob Gillman, Ashley Brown, Tom Bryant, Tijan Jadama, James Morrish (c), Danny Williams, Charlie Smith, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Rhys Brain, Brendon Cass, Ryan Birch.
Goals: Josh Burchell 22, Tijan Jadama 56, Tom Bryant 108.
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 39, Louis Sprosen 65, Danny Williams 78.

Epsom and Ewell
Conor Young, Ben Dyson, Liam Roberts, Alex McKay (c), George Murphy, Dale Marvell, Dan Rose (Joe Jasper 80), Kane Grandison, Sean White, Lloyd Connelly, Ashley Thompson.
Subs (unused): Scott Murphy, Jamie Hatfield, Joe Loftus-Cheek, Ben Franklin.
Goals: Liam Roberts 14, Ben Dyson 83.
Yellow cards: Kane Grandison 42, Dale Marvell 52, Liam Roberts 77, Dan Rose 79.

Attendance: 186
Referee: Valentine Anekwe
Assistants: David Hooker & De Quincey Bailey