Depleted Town Earn A Point

WHITSTABLE TOWN 0 HAYWARDS HEATH TOWN 0
Bostik League South East
Tuesday September 18 2018 19.45

Whitstable and Haywards Heath had to settle for a point each at the Belmont in a poor game with few chances. Whitstable, missing several key players through injury and illness, came closest to scoring when Louis Sprosen smacked a 20 yard shot against the bar late in the first half. Haywards Heath generally looked the more likely to snatch the win, particularly in the second half, but Dan Eason and the home defence worked hard to earn a draw.

Ricky Freeman and Stuart West both failed to recover from injuries sustained during the away win at Phoenix Sports and Whitstable were also without the unwell John Walker. This meant a first start for Chris Elliott and recent signing Elliott Hartnell-Baker was named among the substitutes as was Charlie Smith, available again after his suspension. This was the first of three consecutive home games for Whitstable against the other teams promoted to the Bostik South East division in the summer, with Three Bridges and Sevenoaks Town to follow. Haywards Heath had collected four points from their first four games, including a 5-4 win at Horsham. It was a round trip from Sussex of over 150 miles for this midweek fixture.

The game started quietly and the first serious goal attempt came in the 14th minute when the first corner by the visitors was cleared as far as Max Miller, whose cross was met by the head of tall striker Melford Simpson, but Dan Eason was able to save comfortably just under the bar. A few minutes later, Miller tried a long low shot that again Eason was able to gather easily. Nathan Cooper headed a corner well wide, when picked out in the box. Whitstable were not really creating any opportunities and conceding possession far too easily. On 34 minutes though, it was the turn of Haywards Heath to give the ball away as Sean Roddy was robbed by Tom Walmsley and then earned a caution for bringing him down.

Steve Smith Wins A Header
Haywards Heath go close

Whitstable suffered a further injury blow when their captain James Morrish, who had been suffering with a back problem, limped off to be replaced by Louis Sprosen. The substitute was soon in the action, as Walmsley played the ball through and his shot from 20 yards beat Joshua Heyburn, but struck the bar and rebounded to Steve Smith, whose attempt was deflected wide for a corner. There was little further action of note before the interval, although Smith picked up a caution and was later joined in the notebook by Callum Saunders, who had been causing Whitstable a few problems with his runs, but was penalised for a poor challenge in stoppage time. The home team failed to make the most of a number of set pieces, with the delivery often not in the right areas to cause problems.

Louis Sprosen shoots
The ball beats the goalkeeper
The ball comes back off the bar

The game picked up a little in the second half and Sprosen had a low half volley saved by Heyburn and then in the 51st minute a Saunders free kick was headed wide by an unmarked Simpson, who might have done better. An injured Cooper was replaced by Ibrahim Fofane, forcing Haywards Heath into a change of shape. Some hesitant defending gifted a chance to Smith just outside the box, but his low shot was blocked by Heyburn. Kane Louis tried a shot from distance that was saved low down by Eason and then Byron Napper made a strong run past a couple of challenges, but his shot was well blocked by Chris Saunders. Elliott was booked for a foul and a few minutes later replaced by Kyran Connolly. Saunders was perhaps fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for another foul, but after presumably receiving a final warning by the referee, he was promptly taken off and replaced by Karl Akehurst.

Steve Smith has a shot saved

The Whitstable defence, with Rob Gillman a calming influence, did well to block several more dangerous balls into the box. Heyburn had to be alert to cut out a curling ball from Jordan Wright, but the Sussex team were looking the more likely winners at this stage and Simpson, who was creating some problems, passed to Akehurst whose deflected shot was saved by Eason as it was heading for the bottom corner. On 79 minutes, it was Simpson again who headed the ball down for Akehurst, but he shot over the bar. Simpson was on the end of another deep cross, but when the ball eventually fell to Miller, he could only find the side netting. As the game entered the final minute, a good effort by Akehurst was well saved by Eason and when the ball came out to Naim Rouane, his shot was deflected wide. Charlie Smith, who had been introduced as a substitute for the final quarter of an hour, had two late attempts for Whitstable. He first headed a Sprosen corner over the bar and then tried a final curling shot from distance that went past the far post.

Dan Eason grabs the ball after a Haywards Heath attack
Charlie Smith challenges for the ball

Neither team could find the net before the final whistle however, so both had to settle for a hard earned point. Haywards Heath will probably be the happier team on the night, although they were unable to find a winner against a resolute home defence. Whitstable will hope for the return of some key players for their forthcoming matches, after a below par performance.

Whitstable Haywards Heath
8 Attempts 13
3 On Target 5
2 Corners 3
1 Offside 1
17 Free Kicks Won 10

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, Chris Elliott (Kyran Connolly 67), Teddy Nelson, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c) (Louis Sprosen 35), Tom Walmsley (Charlie Smith 75) Steve Smith, Jai McKinlay.
Sub (unused): Elliott Hartnell-Baker
Yellow cards: Steve Smith 40, Chris Elliott 63, Jai McKinlay 76.

Haywards Heath Town
Joshua Heyburn, Sean Roddy, George Brown, Byron Napper, Nathan Cooper (Ibrahim Fofane 53), Joshua Spinks, Callum Saunders (Karl Akehurst 69), Naim Rouane (c), Melford Simpson, Kane Louis, Max Miller (Kieran Rowe 85).
Subs (unused): George Fenton, Patrick Akwasi-Bronyan.
Yellow cards: Sean Roddy 34, Callum Saunders 45+3.

Attendance: 139
Referee: Ian Fissenden
Assistants: Daniel Doyle & Richard Joss