Category: 2018-2019 Match Reports

Poor Display At Easter

EAST GRINSTEAD TOWN 4 WHITSTABLE TOWN 0
Bostik League South East
Saturday April 20 2019 15.00

Whitstable slumped to a heavy defeat at East Grinstead on a pleasantly warm Easter Saturday afternoon. Some changes were made to the team that had beaten Phoenix Sports, with two holiday games in three days in mind, but after a quiet first half an hour, the home team opened up a 3-0 lead by half time. Karn Miller-Neave scored from a free kick, then Greg Cundle added two more just before the break, one from the penalty spot, as Whitstable offered little in response. A couple of half time substitutions helped produce some improvement, but the game was already lost. Whitstable had the majority of the chances in the second half, but were let down by some poor finishing and it was East Grinstead that found the net once more, from their only goal attempt of the half, as Cundle completed his hat-trick when he turned in a low cross.

Whitstable travelled to play a team four points below them in the table in the first of two Easter fixtures. Both teams are set for a mid-table finish and with Whitstable seemingly having their minds on their final home game against Hythe Town on Monday, both captain James Morrish and leading scorer Stephen Smith were rested and joined John Walker and Taylor Fisher on the bench. Stuart West is out for the season, but Louis Sprosen was brought back into the team. East Grinstead had been inconsistent of late, following a 5-2 win against Hythe with 1-5 and 4-5 defeats to Phoenix Sports and VCD.

The game kicked off on the warmest day of the year so far and neither goalkeeper was really tested in the first half an hour. Nick Treadwell had a header easily held by Brannon Daly, Miles Cornwell volleyed wide and Connor Sanders sent a few dangerous long throws into the home penalty area, but Whitstable wasted several free kicks with some wayward deliveries. At the other end, Rob Gillman made two timely tackles, Dan Eason collected a couple of Cundle shots from the edge of the box and Drew Cooney headed a corner over the top. East Grinstead took the lead in the 32nd minute from a free kick. Cundle had earlier struck one into the wall from a similar distance and stood over this one alongside Miller-Neave, but this time it was the left back who curled a shot around the wall and into the bottom left corner.

Callum Emptage tries to hold Ricky Freeman back
Tom Bryant heads clear
Karn Miller-Neave puts East Grinstead ahead from a free kick

Daly just managed to get a hand to a deep Harry Stannard free kick to push the ball safely behind for a corner, which was badly overhit. It was 2-0 in the 42nd minute, when Whitstable gave the ball away in midfield and Cundle squared the ball from the right into the box where Jordan Wright and Jordan Johnson collided and the referee awarded a penalty, as the East Grinstead player ended up on the ground. Cundle easily beat Eason from the spot. Ricky Freeman then collected the ball on the left and broke into the box, where he went down as he was challenged and felt his team should have had a penalty, but the officials did not agree. Things got worse for a lacklustre Whitstable team in added time, when Ollie Boulding played the ball through for Cundle and he shot past Eason to give the “Wasps” at three goal advantage at half time.

Brannon Daly tips the ball away
Greg Cundle scores from the penalty spot

Whitstable introduced Morrish and Smith at the restart and at least produced an improved performance in the second half, having ten goal attempts without making any count however. Morrish shot over as the ball was headed down to him, Freeman was denied by the intervention of Jack Bray as he was about to shoot and Tom Bryant lashed a shot over the bar following a corner. Walker came on in place of Sanders, as Wright was moved into midfield. There were then three yellow cards shown in the space of a few minutes, with Bray for the home team and both Whitstable substitutes going into the book for fouls. In the 72nd minute, the ball was stabbed towards goal from a Freeman corner, but was cleared off the line by Boulding. Wright and Smith combined to set up Freeman who shot over. Whitstable were playing better, but were unable to find a finish and a back header by Smith from another corner was easily saved.

Nick Treadwell rises high
The home defence clear as Ricky Freeman closes in
Ollie Boulding clears the ball off the line

East Grinstead however were not having so much difficulty finding the back of the net and they made it 4-0 from their only real effort of the second half. Mitchell Chapman played the ball out to the right for Boulding and, as Whitstable appealed in vain for an offside flag, he crossed to the near post where Cundle was on hand to complete his hat-trick. Wright slipped a great ball through for Cornwell, but he shot wide with just Daly to beat. Smith then made a good run into the box and played in Morrish, who again shot over the top. In the final moments, Wright and Freeman both had chances to get a consolation, but it was not to be on the day and East Grinstead deservedly collected all three points.

James Morrish hits one over the bar

Whitstable will know that their first half display in particular was about the poorest of the season, but their focus seemed to be more on the Easter Monday fixture at home to Hythe, with so many connections between the two clubs. Hopefully the performance will be better and the season at the Belmont can finish on a positive note, although the main objective for the first campaign back in the Bostik League has already been achieved.

East Grinstead Whitstable
8 Attempts 12
6 On Target 4
5 Corners 5
4 Offside 1
7 Free Kicks Won 14

East Grinstead Town
Brannon Daly, Callum Emptage (c), Karn Miller-Neave, Jordan Johnson, Drew Cooney, Jack Bray, Leo Mazzone, Mitchell Chapman, Marcus Elliott (Jerson Dos Santos 77), Greg Cundle (Orlando Smith 82), Ollie Boulding (O’shaye Hutchinson 87).
Subs (unused): Andrew Pead, Matt Day.
Goals: Greg Cundle pen 42, 45+1, 79, Karn Miller-Neave 32.
Yellow card: Jack Bray 66

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, James Trueman, Nick Treadwell, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (c), Connor Sanders (John Walker 63), Louis Sprosen (James Morrish 46), Ricky Freeman, Harry Stannard (Stephen Smith 46), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): Taylor Fisher
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 42, John Walker 67, James Morrish 70.

Attendance: 141
Referee: Jamaal Horne
Assistants: Joshua Godfrey & Chimango Gondwe

Sanders Hits Late Winner

WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 PHOENIX SPORTS 1
Bostik League South East
Saturday April 13 2019 15.00

Whitstable completed the league double over their opponents in an entertaining game at a bright and breezy Belmont Ground. Whitstable started well and almost took the lead from a long Connor Sanders throw, although Zak Bryon and Jeff Duah-Kessie both put good chances wide for the visitors. Ricky Freeman opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Miles Cornwell had been fouled. Phoenix improved in the second half and Solomon Taiwo equalised at the back post following a right wing cross. They continued to threaten and Dan Eason had to make a couple of saves to prevent his team falling behind, while Steve Phillips somehow managed to keep out a low strike by Stephen Smith at the other end. It was Whitstable that eventually claimed all three points, when Sanders fired home the winner in the 90th minute.

Tenth played ninth in this game and both teams were already set for a respectable finish with just four games remaining. When they met at the Mayplace Ground back in mid-September, two Freeman goals had given Whitstable the points in a confident display. Stuart West has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and Harry Stannard started on the bench, trying to shake off a niggling injury. Phoenix named an unchanged team after beating East Grinstead 5-1 in their previous game.

Whitstable spent the early stages of the game on the attack and the ball was frequently in the Phoenix penalty area from several free kicks, corners and long throws, but the closest they came to taking the lead was from a Sanders throw in the 11th minute, when the ball almost found its way into the net through a congested box. Home goalkeeper Eason was first called into action with a routine stop from Duah-Kessie on 15 minutes. After Phillips had saved a Smith shot, Kenny Aileru made a good run down the right, before sending over a low cross for Lee Bird, who miskicked the ball when well placed at the back post. Freeman had a couple of shots, as the home team continued to look the most likely to score, but a misdirected header left Bryon with a clear run at goal in the 24th minute, but he lashed the ball over the top with only Eason to beat. Jack Hopkins then set up Duah-Kessie, who controlled the ball well before slicing his shot badly wide. Freeman played the ball through to Cornwell, but his low shot lacked the power to beat Phillips.

Rising high to clear
Early pressure from Whitstable
Nick Treadwell challenges Steve Phillips for a long throw
The ball is cleared off the line

The visitors were now asking a few more questions and a Duah-Kessie cross from the left was headed wide by Bryon at the back post when he might have done better. James Morrish made a surging run forward for Whitstable, before cutting inside and trying a low shot that Phillips saved comfortably. A good ball was then played forward, releasing Cornwell into the penalty area, where he went down under the challenge of the two covering defenders and the referee had no hesitation in awarding Whitstable a penalty. Freeman stepped forward to send Phillips the wrong way and give his team a 34th minute lead. The game was now going from end to end and Morrish made a great interception and found Smith, whose cross seemed to be pushed behind for a corner although the officials gave a goal kick, to the frustration of the home bench who were spoken to by the referee. Curiously, Whitstable did not concede a foul until the 43rd minute, but Phoenix then won two late corners, the first of which Ashley Probets almost curled in before the ball was scrambled away and Whitstable went in at half time leading 1-0.

Miles Cornwell is brought down and Whitstable have a penalty
Ricky Freeman takes the spot kick
Whitstable lead 1-0

Whitstable had to make a change at the start of the second half, with Harry Brown replacing Taylor Fisher. Smith began the half brightly and played a great cross field ball to Morrish, who strode forward before shooting over. Phoenix went in search of an equaliser though and after a period of pressure Duah-Kessie was given two chances to send over a cross from the right and from the second the ball reached Taiwo at the far post and he was able to squeeze the ball past Eason to level the scores. Duah-Kessie was starting to prove a handful and was denied by a last ditch tackle as he was about the shoot. Aileru then turned and shot from the edge of the box, but Eason touched the ball over the bar and the Whitstable goalkeeper then had to save a long shot from Bryon.

Phoenix Sports equalise
A dangerous Ashley Probets corner flies across goal with nobody able to get a touch

Smith and Freeman combined well at the other end and Smith hit a low shot through the legs of a defender, but Phillips just managed to get down and deflect the ball for a corner. John Walker replaced Tom Bryant in the home defence, before Rob Gillman headed a deep Brown corner over the top. Phoenix won several corners themselves, one of which almost gave them the lead as the in-swinger by Probets missed everyone before curling just past the far post. Bird shot wide after being picked out by Duah-Kessie, then substitute George Whitelock forced a good save from Eason. Smith saw his shot blocked when Morrish found him with a good pass, then Eason denied the dangerous Duah-Kessie once more. Whitstable won a free kick in the 90th minute and Brown curled the ball towards Smith, who did well to play it back for Sanders who found the top corner from 10 yards to put Whitstable in front again. In added time, Sanders found himself in the book for taking a throw from the wrong place and Smith had a shot deflected just past the post, but Whitstable had done enough to secure the win.

Dan Eason claims this one
Connor Sanders fires in the last minute winner
The ball is in the net
Whitstable lead 2-1
A stoppage time shot by Stephen Smith is deflected past the post

Whitstable move to within one point of their opponents, but remain in tenth place. Their last three games see two visits to Sussex to face East Grinstead and Three Bridges, with a home fixture against Hythe Town on Easter Monday sandwiched in between.

Whitstable Phoenix Sports
14 Attempts 14
9 On Target 6
6 Corners 10
2 Offside 5
14 Free Kicks Won 9

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, Taylor Fisher (Harry Brown 46), Nick Treadwell, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (John Walker 63), Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Harry Stannard 78), Stephen Smith, Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): James Trueman
Goals: Ricky Freeman pen 34, Connor Sanders 90.
Yellow card: Connor Sanders 90+1

Phoenix Sports
Steve Phillips (c), Ryan Andrews, Ashley Probets, Jack Hopkins, Danny Young, Lewis Clarke, Lee Bird (George Whitelock 73), Solomon Taiwo, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Zak Bryon (Ryan Solan 81), Kenny Aileru.
Subs (unused): Oliver Andrews, Jack Barry, Andrew Dythe.
Goal: Solomon Taiwo 53
Yellow cards: Solomon Taiwo 14, Ryan Andrews 35, George Whitelock 81, Danny Young 90+2.

Attendance: 211
Referee: Peter Cruise
Assistants: Daniel Friar & Joseph Dann-Pye

Narrow Defeat In Sussex

HAYWARDS HEATH TOWN 2 WHITSTABLE TOWN 1
Bostik League South East
Saturday April 6 2019 15.00

After a good five game run that yielded four wins and a draw, Whitstable went down to a 2-1 defeat in a hard fought game at play-off chasing Haywards Heath. Whitstable had the better of the first half, despite falling behind when Tom Graves planted a firm header past Dan Eason from a good Callum Saunders cross. Nick Treadwell headed the equaliser when he was first to Ricky Freeman’s corner. Freeman then went close to giving Whitstable the lead on a couple of occasions and was unlucky when he lobbed the ball over Anthony Ender, only to see the ball bounce up and hit the bar. Neither goalkeeper was tested in the early stages of the second half, but Whitstable gradually found it harder to get up the pitch, playing against a strong breeze. Kenny Pogue headed an Omar Folkes cross past Eason to put the home side back in front and they almost added a third, but Eason just managed to touch a long range shot by Alex Laing on to the post. Some late Whitstable pressure failed to bring an equaliser and Haywards Heath held on to win 2-1 and consolidate their fifth place.

Haywards Heath, like Whitstable, were promoted to the Bostik League this season, although unlike Whitstable, this was their first time at this level. They would have been promoted the previous season, but for being deducted points due to an unfortunate administrative error. Whitstable had lost 1-0 on a previous visit to Hanbury Park in an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie in September 1980, when their team contained some well-remembered players such as Brian Gambrill, Trevor Gowan and Martin Mills. The home team have had a successful season and are looking set for a play-off place, with a good advantage over their closest challengers. They were without several players for this match, including goalkeeper Josh Heyburn, captain Nathan Cooper, Sean Roddy and Trevor McCreadie. Whitstable were missing Stuart West and John Walker though injuries.

The home team started with some hesitant defending that almost let Harry Stannard in, but the ball was pushed away for a corner, following which Miles Cornwell shot over from just outside the box. The first threat at the other end came from a right wing cross that Rob Gillman cleared as far as Karl Akehurst, whose shot was blocked in a crowded area. A long throw by Connor Sanders somehow found its way right through to the goalkeeper, Anthony Ender, with nobody able to get a decisive touch. Haywards Heath opened the scoring on 13 minutes, when a Saunders cross to the back post from the right wing was headed powerfully into the net by Graves. Whitstable tried to respond immediately as James Morrish found Freeman on the right, but his angled effort went wide of the far post. Laing always looked the biggest threat for the home team and tried a low shot that was gathered by Eason. Whitstable had a good spell, winning most of the balls in midfield, with Treadwell, Morrish and Sanders all playing well and they forced three corners in a few minutes. Freeman took the third in the 25th minutes and Treadwell rose well to head past Ender.

An early opening for Harry Stannard
The ball is cleared for a corner
Tom Graves heads past Dan Eason to give Haywards Heath the lead
Nick Treadwell heads the equaliser from a Ricky Freeman corner
Whitstable make it 1-1

Treadwell then got his head to a Stannard cross, but it went well wide. In the 31st minute, a great ball through by Jordan Wright sent Freeman clear and he just reached the ball before the advancing Ender and clipped it over him but it bounced up and came back off the crossbar. Ender had caught Freeman, so the referee brought play back, showed him a yellow card and awarded a free kick outside the box that Stannard struck into the wall. Freeman then intercepted an attempted back pass, turned and shot just past the far post, as Whitstable continued to press. Treadwell and Wright both had further attempts, but neither could find the target. Freeman then appeared to be pushed over in the box as he tried to reach a deep cross, but penalty appeals were turned down, much to his frustration. The score remained 1-1 at the interval, but Whitstable will feel they should have been ahead.

Ricky Freeeman chips the goalkeeper before being brought down, but the ball hits the bar
Another Freeman effort flies just past the far post

Jamie Weston replaced the injured Josh Spinks at the start of the second half, as the home team reorganised a little. On 57 minutes, Cornwell passed inside to Morrish, who hit a left footed shot just wide from distance. Freeman thought he had been fouled near the halfway line, but Cameron Tutt was allowed to break down the left and cross for Laing, who could not find the finish. Laing then turned provider for George Landais, but his effort was well wide and he was replaced by Folkes shortly afterwards. Stannard, who had been struggling with an injury, was also substituted and Stephen Smith came on for Whitstable. Smith almost had an immediate impact when he blocked an attempted clearance by Ender, but the ball rebounded wide of the goal and then Freeman turned and shot over the bar from around 25 yards.

Haywards Heath were seeing more of the ball in the Whitstable half and with the wind behind them, they were looking ever more dangerous. Pogue got up well to meet a deep cross, but the ball went wide. It was a warning of things to come however and in the 71st minute, Folkes did well on the right to hook over a high cross and Pogue jumped the highest, directing his header just out of the reach of Eason into the right corner to give his team the lead for the second time. Morrish and Freeman both earned bookings, as the frustration grew and James Trueman came on in place of the Whitstable captain. In the 80th minute, Laing hit a great shot from over 30 yards out and Eason appeared to just get a hand to it, before it struck the post and was cleared away. Tutt picked up the fourth card of the game as Whitstable tried to find a way through, but despite some late pressure that saw a corner, free kick and long throw all delivered into the box, a blocked shot by Taylor Fisher was as close as they came to an equaliser and the home side held on for a 2-1 win.

Dan Eason touches a long range strike on to the woodwork
Whitstable looking for a late equaliser that never came

Haywards Heath remain in the final play-off position, six points clear of VCD, with just four games left. Whitstable can no longer finish in a relegation spot after the weekend’s results and still sit in a respectable tenth position, with ninth placed Phoenix Sports the visitors to the Belmont next Saturday.

Haywards Heath Whitstable
7 Attempts 12
4 On Target 1
1 Corners 5
0 Offside 3
9 Free Kicks Won 13

Haywards Heath Town
Anthony Ender, Kieran Rowe, Cameron Tutt, Karl Akehurst, Tom Graves, Josh Spinks (Jamie Weston 46), Callum Saunders, Byron Napper (c), Kenny Pogue, George Landais (Omar Folkes 60), Alex Laing.
Sub (unused): Tyrese Gray-Branford
Goals: Tom Graves 13, Kenny Pogue 71.
Yellow cards: Anthony Ender 32, Cameron Tutt 81.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, Taylor Fisher, Nick Treadwell, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c) (James Trueman 78), Ricky Freeman, Harry Stannard (Stephen Smith 78), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): John Walker
Goal: Nick Treadwell 25
Yellow cards: James Morrish 75, Ricky Freeman 77.

Attendance: 128
Referee: John Pike
Assistants: Ciaran Fidler & Dominic Barrow

Changes Announced At Whitstable Town

Whitstable Town Football Club’s chairman, Joe Brownett, is standing down to take up the honorary position of club president. Joe is the club’s longest serving chairman and as president will support the new chairman, Steve Clayton. Steve has been chairman of Whitstable Town Junior Football Club for the last three years and will become chairman of the overall club at the start of the 2019/20 season. This will bring the Senior club and the Junior club together in an exciting development that will hopefully lead to many more home grown players rising through the youth section and into the First Team.

Steve has taken the junior section from 4 teams to 15 over the last three years, building a fantastic team of supportive individuals along the way, ensuring the town’s oldest youth football club is thriving and is the success it is today. Both Steve and his committee are highly committed to the success of the junior section and are determined to ensure that they can provide young talented players in the future for the senior team on a regular basis.

Steve and his team will build on the great work Joe and his team have done over the years in running this club, for the good of those employed by the club and for the benefit of those that support and sponsor the club. The combination of the junior and senior clubs will provide increased stability and resources, which should better enable Whitstable Town Football Club to meet some key objectives:

  • to increase interaction with the local community,
  • continue to maintain and improve facilities, both on and off the pitch,
  • provide the necessary support to ensure the first team can compete successfully in the Bostik League,
  • provide a clear pathway for young footballers to progress to senior football.

Joe commented: “I have a lot of confidence that the club will push forward with lots of new ideas and people and a strong junior section. It was due a change I think. I’m getting a bit older now. I’m not running away from it, but modern football needs a lot of people to do different jobs. My committee are getting a bit older as well, but a lot of them will stay on and we intend to support what the junior club wants to do. It won’t be two separate clubs, but will all be one. I’m proud that we are managing to achieve a handover to people that we know well and who have similar aims for the club and youth development. We’ve got great tradition and were one of the first supporters of the Kent Youth League.”

Steve added: “I have a fantastic team to support me in bringing our vision of making Whitstable Town Football Club the best it can be, laying the foundation today to create the pathways for the juniors of today to progress and play for their hometown club. We look forward with great excitement to the season ahead, where we will be ambitious in our quest to build upon our ongoing success and with everyone’s support will continue to set the bar high.”

Further announcements will be made in due course.

Whitstable Beat League Leaders

WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 CRAY WANDERERS 0
Bostik League South East
Saturday March 30 2019 15.00

Whitstable edged out the long-time pacesetters in the division thanks to a well taken second half goal by Harry Stannard, his fifth in five games since his move from Ramsgate. In a game where both teams defended well and neither goalkeeper had much to do, Cray had plenty of possession in the first half, although a Mitchell Nelson header that went over the bar and a Joe Taylor shot straight at Dan Eason was as close as they came to scoring. The game opened up a little after the break, as Whitstable started to get forward more and Miles Cornwell played in Stannard, who shot past Nick Blue for the decisive goal. Tom Phipp went close when his dipping shot flew just over the bar and then another effort from an indirect free kick was blocked, but Whitstable held on for the win without Eason having to make a serious save.

Cray Wanderers away was the first league game of this season for Whitstable, following their promotion back to Step 4 football, but despite some resolute defending, Cray dominated that game and eventually scored a couple of late goals to seal a 2-0 win. Since then Cray have gone on to establish a large lead at the top of the table and could have sealed an early promotion at a sunny Belmont Ground, had results gone their way. Their only league defeats to date had been by Horsham and Hastings. Whitstable had collected ten points from their last twelve, but suffered some selection headaches with the late withdrawals of Stephen Smith and Stuart West through illness and injury. Rob Gillman was also unavailable, so John Walker was given an unfamiliar role alongside Tom Bryant in central defence and Ricky Freeman started upfront alongside the in-form striker, Stannard.

Whitstable might have taken a shock early lead when some casual play by the visitors saw the ball fall to Stannard, but he curled his shot high and wide. Cray soon started to push Whitstable back, with Ben Mundele and Junior Dadson seeing a lot of the ball on the right. The defence dealt well with a couple of Cray corners, but then a poor pass left Joe Taylor with an opportunity to run towards goal, but he was closed down on the edge of the box. Cray won a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area after 14 minutes and Karl Dent sent over a testing cross for Nelson, who rose above Connor Sanders, but was unable to keep his header down and the ball went over the bar. Dadson put in a low cross from the right, but Phipp was not able to find the power and the ball was hacked away by the defence. Former Ashford United left back Tom Carlse was the next to try his luck, but crashed his long range shot well over the top.

Mitchell Nelson heads a good chance from a free kick over the bar
John Walker, deputising as a centre back for the afternoon, clears the ball

Mundele made another good run down the right and went down on the edge of the box by the goal line. The Whitstable players felt that it might not have been a foul, whilst Cray appealed for a penalty. The referee consulted his assistant and the result was a Cray free kick just outside the box, which was wasted. Cray won two more corners that were taken by Dent, but the home defence were able to clear. In the final few minutes of the half, Cray suddenly became sloppy at the back and as Freeman chased down a through ball, Blue’s clearance went straight to Stannard who lifted the chance over the bar from around 25 yards. A back pass then almost let Whitstable in again and when it was cleared, the ball reached Freeman whose shot was saved by Blue. At the other end, Taylor tried a shot on the turn from 18 yards that was comfortably held by Eason and the teams went in at the break with the score 0-0.

Nick Blue saves from Ricky Freeman
Nick Treadwell and Mitchell Nelson challenging for the ball

Cray brought on Archie Johnson for Freddie Parker at the start of the second half. Freeman and Cornwell tried to set up Nick Treadwell, but his attempted shot looped harmlessly off target. Johnson then tried a shot following a Cray corner, but it was blocked. Dent lashed a shot over the top after a partial clearance, but Whitstable were starting to win more challenges in midfield and create a few half chances. Freeman’s shot was blocked, following some pressure caused by a long Sanders throw. Cornwell had an effort deflected for Whitstable’s only corner of the game, but it was overhit. Cray introduced Jordan Clarke and then three players collected yellow cards in quick succession. Taylor Fisher hit a free kick high over the bar and Mundele cut in, before also shooting way over the top. The key moment of the game arrived in the 69th minute, as Whitstable won a challenge in midfield and Cornwell collected the ball, then played a good pass through to Stannard on the left side of the penalty area and he shot past Blue to the delight of the home fans behind the goal.

Taylor Fisher sends a free kick wide
Harry Stannard strikes the winning goal
The ball is in the Cray net in the 69th minute

Cray won two free kicks, as they tried to get back on terms and from the second, the ball was cleared as far as Carlse and his pass was volleyed just over the bar by Phipp from the edge of the box. James Trueman replaced the Whitstable goal scorer, before Taylor tried a chip, but it went wide of Eason’s left hand post. In the 78th minute, the referee penalised Sanders for an overhead clearance from his own penalty area and awarded Cray an indirect free kick that Dent rolled to Phipp, but his shot struck the defensive wall and was cleared as Cray appealed in vain for a handball. Both teams made further substitutions, and there was a stoppage time booking for Joe Vines, who had been sent on as Cray looked for a more direct approach in the final minutes, but the home defence stood firm to claim a hard earned three points.

A midfield battle
Part of the 225 crowd looking on
Tom Phipp’s shot hits the Whitstable wall
Dan Eason had a surprisingly quiet game against the runaway league leaders

Whitstable now find themselves up to tenth place and all but mathematically safe from relegation, after finding some recent good form. Cray are still ten points clear of the chasing pack and will surely go on to deservedly clinch the title in the coming weeks.

Whitstable Cray Wanderers
6 Attempts 7
2 On Target 1
1 Corners 7
1 Offside 1
12 Free Kicks Won 13

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, Taylor Fisher, Nick Treadwell (Harry Brown 90), John Walker, Tom Bryant, Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman, Harry Stannard (James Trueman 75), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): Stuart West
Goal: Harry Stannard 69
Yellow card: Connor Sanders 63

Cray Wanderers
Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (c), Tom Phipp, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Joe Vines 85), Joe Taylor, Freddie Parker (Archie Johnson 46), Junior Dadson (Jordan Clarke 60).
Subs (unused): Jerome Frederico, Charles Etumnu.
Yellow cards: Sean Roberts 64, Jay Leader 66, Karl Dent 81 Joe Vines 90+1.

Attendance: 225
Referee: Ricky Adams
Assistants: Nick Dunn & George Lowe

Points Shared At Whyteleafe

WHYTELEAFE 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 1
Bostik League South East
Saturday March 26 2019 15.00

Whitstable gained a useful point in a 1-1 draw at Whyteleafe to take their unbeaten run to four games. A promising start might well have seen them take the lead, as they pushed the home side back and created several chances, but instead they fell behind when Ashley Robinson found Junior Aikhionbare in the box and he was able to turn and shoot past Dan Eason. Whitstable got the equaliser that their first half performance deserved, when Harry Stannard was fouled in the box and scored from the spot just before the break. Whyteleafe posed more problems in the second half, with a lot of possession and threatening runs at the Whitstable defence, who did a great job of protecting Eason. In fact, neither goalkeeper had a serious save to make in the half and in the end a draw was probably the right result.

When the two teams met back in early November, Whyteleafe left the Belmont having gained a fairly comfortable 2-0 win, but their promising start to the season has recently stuttered and they came into this game on the back of five consecutive defeats. In contrast, Whitstable had put an end to their poor run, winning their last three games. Whyteleafe have a 3G pitch and Whitstable were one of the first to play on it, when they drew 1-1 back in September 2014. Rob Gillman returned to the Whitstable team for this game, having missed the midweek victory against VCD, whilst there was a start for Taylor Fisher.

It was Whitstable that looked the sharper in the opening stages with most of the play in the Whyteleafe half. Stephen Smith did well on the right before finding Jordan Wright, whose shot was blocked and then pushed away by Sheikh Ceesay, who had returned in goal for Whyteleafe in the absence of regular goalkeeper Tyler McCarthy. Smith was causing problems and he next nodded the ball over Nathan Campbell before stabbing it past Ceesay, but the wrong side of the post. A good run and cross by Stuart West was parried by Ceesay, then cleared by his defence. Smith had another effort, latching on to a high ball, but his shot missed the target. Connor Sanders sent a number of long throws into the home penalty area, but Whitstable were unable to really test Ceesay. They had a couple of penalty appeals that were turned down by the referee. There had been little action at the other end, until a tricky run by former Hythe striker Aikhionbare led to a cross that was put wide. In the 19th minute though they took the lead, as Robinson collected the ball in midfield and played a clever pass forward to Aikhionbare with his back to goal, but he turned past the last defender and beat Eason from a few yards out.

An early chance for Jordan Wright
Sheikh Ceesay pushes the ball out
Stephen Smith shoots past Sheikh Ceesay, but wide
The goalkeeper can’t hold this cross by Stuart West,but the ball is cleared

The game then became more even, with both goalkeepers relatively untroubled. Matthew O’Donoghue shot wide after a pull back by the lively Aikhionbare and Miles Cornwell helped the ball on for Smith, who turned smartly and volleyed over the bar. As the interval approached, Whitstable pressed forward again, with another Smith shot deflected for a corner. Stannard then exchanged a couple of passes before driving into the box, where he appeared to be brought down by the left leg of Campbell and the referee awarded a penalty. Stannard took the kick and although Ceesay made a good attempt to save, diving to his left, the shot was too good and it was 1-1 in the 44th minute. It is now four goals in four games for Stannard, since his return to Whitstable. Eason had a weak shot to save before the teams left the pitch for half time.

Harry Stannard scores from the penalty spot

Stannard was almost gifted an early chance in the second half and broke into the box from the right, but the ball just got away from him, allowing Ceesay to gather. Aikhionbare went down in the box, but the officials were not interested in the penalty appeals. Emmanuel Mensah made a good run, but his cross was well cut out, but then Gillman picked up his first booking of the season for halting another threatening break, as the home team tried hard to find a second goal. Whyteleafe took off the experienced Robinson, who had shown some great touches on the ball and brought several cheers from the home supporters, despite looking as though he would have been more comfortable wearing a larger shirt, while Whitstable had to replace the injured West with a fit again John Walker. Marvin Armstrong was getting forward regularly and once made good progress towards goal before being stopped by a timely challenge by Gillman.

Harry Stannard is almost in, but the goalkeeper gathers
A quiet afternoon for Dan Eason, who comes to claim a free kick

Both teams made further substitutions, but the goalkeepers were rarely called into action. Walker delivered a good cross that Ceesay was able to claim and Eason safely collected a downward header from a corner. Whyteleafe continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock and Campbell glanced a header well wide, then Aikhionbare lifted his shot over the bar from a good cross. Whitstable had to play the last few minutes with ten men when Sanders was forced to depart early through injury, with all three substitutions already made, but they held on without too much difficulty to claim a point.

Dan Eason collects a header down from a corner
Whitstable are first to a high ball
Goalscorer and goalkeeper greet each other at the final whistle

The 1-1 draw brought an end to a losing run for Whyteleafe, while continuing the recent improved form for Whitstable and that will be certainly be put to the test when league leaders Cray Wanderers visit the Belmont on Saturday.

Whyteleafe Whitstable
7 Attempts 5
2 On Target 2
4 Corners 3
4 Offside 1
16 Free Kicks Won 9

Whyteleafe
Sheikh Ceesay, Marvin Armstrong, Matthew O’Donoghue, Nathan Campbell (c), Ricardo Thompson (Bryan Akongo 80), Jamie McGeoghegan, Bradley Wilson, Emmanuel Mensah, Junior Aikhionbare, Daniel Hector (Andre McCollin 74), Ashley Robinson (Adam Aziz 59).
Subs (unused): Kelvin Ogboe, Valentino Carpene.
Goal: Junior Aikhionbare 19

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Stuart West (John Walker 68), Taylor Fisher, Jordan Wright, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c), Harry Stannard (Ricky Freeman 76), Stephen Smith (James Trueman 86), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): Nick Treadwell, Harry Brown.
Goal: Harry Stannard pen 44
Yellow cards: Rob Gillman 54, Connor Sanders 83.

Attendance: 176
Referee: Scott Rudd
Assistants: Stephen Matthews & Nick Blogg