Croydon Fight Back To Draw

SCEFL Premier Division
Wednesday March 8 2017 19.45

A reshuffled Whitstable side came away with a point following a somewhat disjointed performance at the Croydon Sports Arena. The game was quite entertaining for the small crowd, with four well taken goals and numerous other chances, but Whitstable will be disappointed they could not hold on to a two goal lead. Regan Payne opened the scoring with a good finish and Kane Rowland added a second, rounding the keeper and finding the far corner on the half hour. Croydon pulled one back soon afterwards when Jeff Duah-Kessie made space and fired a great shot past Dan Eason. The equaliser came early in the second half as the dangerous Lauris Chin went past Eason on the right edge of the box and scored from a narrow angle. Despite a promising start, Whitstable were struggling to keep any meaningful possession, but the introduction of a couple of substitutes seemed to improve things and both teams had chances to find a winner. Harris Rodgers had a shot well saved after a good move and the Croydon captain Jamie McGeoghegan blazed a great chance over the bar.

There were a number of changes to the Whitstable starting eleven for this Wednesday evening fixture with several players unavailable due to injury, work or family reasons. Ashley Brown, Aaron Quain, Connor Hood and Craig Thompson did not travel. Rob Gillman had to start on the bench as he was unable to get to the ground in good time and Ollie Lee picked up an injury in the warm up, but did manage to get through the game. Charlie Smith and Harry Brown played as the wing backs alongside a defensive trio of Lee, Calvin Sedenu and captain for the night, Tom Bryant. Croydon had problems themselves with two of the players originally named to start having to be replaced before the kick off.

Eason dealt with an early cross shot from Reiss Franklin, but then Whitstable were mostly on the front foot in the opening stages. Smith shot wide from a narrow angle and then after the ball had been back and forth across the goal a couple of times Payne, making his first start for the club, headed a good opportunity over the bar. On 10 minutes though, as Croydon were appealing for a free kick in midfield, the ball was played forward to Payne on the edge of the box and he took his chance with a good shot into the far corner.

This effort is just wide
Regan Payne opens the scoring

Croydon thought they might have had a penalty a minute later, but the referee was not interested. A good ball forward from left to right found Smith and he chipped the ball over goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw, but it landed on the roof of the net. The home number nine, Duah-Kessie, was beginning to cause a few problems and broke down the left but his cross missed everyone. The quick Chin then attacked down the right and shot just wide of the near post and a few minutes later he ran on to a through ball but fired over. On 25 minutes Dawodu was brought down just outside the box, but the Whitstable free kick routine was not the best and led to a quick break by Croydon which ended with Eason having to parry a fierce attempt by Duah-Kessie into the path of Oscar Hall, whose shot was saved. Then came a comical moment on 30 minutes as Franklin tried a shot from 20 yards, but sliced it so badly it went backwards and out for a throw on the far side of the pitch. From the throw the ball eventually came to Rowland on the left edge of the penalty area and he kept his cool to take it past the advancing keeper and score from a tight angle.

Kane Rowland sees his shot cross the line

Brown then passed to Payne who looked as though he might add a third, but Ameyaw made a good block. Croydon were back in the game on 34 minutes when Duah-Kessie received the ball just inside the box, worked himself an opening and beat Eason with a powerful shot into the top corner giving him no chance. Rowland created another opening for Dawodu who failed to beat Ameyaw and then Chin outpaced the Whitstable defence but dragged his shot wide. Dawodu shrugged off a couple of challenges with a strong run through the middle but shot over as the game became end to end. A good four man move ended with Rowland shooting over. Duah-Kessie shot straight at Eason and then Smith blazed a shot wide after being set up by James Morrish as half time approached.

Whitstable were less effective after the break and resorted to too many high balls that were easily dealt with by the home defence. Chin shot over from a great position, but soon afterwards on 49 minutes Duah-Kessie released Chin on the right and he took the ball around Eason and rolled it into the net from a very narrow angle to make it 2-2. On 55 minutes Jack Mahoney was replaced by Gillman and Lee was pushed further forward. The Whitstable defence dealt well with another dangerous cross by Duah-Kessie and then Eason saved another Chin effort. Payne shot just wide after a Rowland pass, although a corner was awarded despite Ameyaw appearing to let the ball go past him.

Rodgers replaced Payne, who had taken a knock, on 71 minutes and Whitstable started to look more threatening again. Rodgers and Lee, from midfield, both started to run at the home defence and this was causing more problems than the tactic of knocking long balls forward. Lee and Dawodu combined to find Rodgers whose firm strike was pushed out for a corner by Ameyaw. A neat one two by Croydon created a great opening for McGeoghegan, but he shot over from close range. Croydon won their only corner on 90 minutes, but it was scrambled clear of danger. In added time Andy Mott tried his luck from 20 yards, but he was off target and a late drive into the box by Lee was stopped before the final whistle blew with the points shared.

Francis Ameyaw under pressure

There had been plenty of action for the sparse crowd and in the end it was probably a fair result. The people behind the scenes at Croydon FC are always very welcoming and it is a shame that this traditional non-league club is unable to attract more support from the local community. They do play some nice football and currently sit comfortably in mid table. Whitstable next play an improving Beckenham team that are still in the bottom two, but will travel to the Belmont with confidence after a good display against Crowborough in their last game.

Francis Ameyaw, Veejay Miller, Oscar Hall, Rohann Howell, Tolulope Jonah, Harry Brockman (Kamelko Pope-Campbell 78), Reiss Franklin, Jamie McGeoghegan (c), Jeff Duah-Kessie, Andy Mott, Lauris Chin.
Subs (unused): Wesley Bartlett, Cedric Abraham, Danny Carpanini.
Goals: Jeff Duah-Kessie 34, Lauris Chin 49.
Yellow cards: Rohann Howell 66, Harry Brockman 76.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Calvin Sedenu, Harry Brown, Tom Bryant (c), Ollie Lee, Bola Dawodu, Jack Mahoney (Rob Gillman 55), James Morrish, Kane Rowland, Regan Payne (Harris Rodgers 71), Charlie Smith.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Regan Payne 10, Kane Rowland 30.

Attendance: 46
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
Assistants: Amechi Onwugbonu & Alan Prime