Draw At Star Meadow

Pre-season friendly
Saturday July 13 2019 15.00

Whitstable travelled to Gillingham to play SCEFL premier division opposition, Hollands and Blair. Closure of the M2 and roadworks on the alternative A2 contributed to a difficult journey for some. There were a number of familiar faces in the Hollands and Blair team, including former Whitstable players Harry Goodger, Darren Marsden, Sam Welch, Reiss Crimmen and Calvin Sedenu. They are now managed by Simon Halsey, who has had a couple of spells in the dugout at the Belmont. Whitstable were without a couple of players that had picked up injuries in the previous game. There was a minute’s silence before the kick-off, in memory of the late Hollands and Blair vice chairman Kevin Chelton.

A minute’s silence for Kevin Chelton
Whitstable pay their respects

Whitstable made a perfect start when Tarik Ibrahim broke into the box, went round a defender and fired the ball past the home goalkeeper inside the 1st minute to open the scoring. He looked lively and went down inside the box when challenged shortly afterwards, but unfortunately had to be substituted a few minutes later, due to injury, to be replaced by the returning Harry Stannard. Hollands and Blair had one effort ruled out for a foul on Dan Eason, but equalised in the 38th minute through a Goodger header, although there was more than a hint of offside, but the strong Whitstable protests were waved away.

Tarik Ibrahaim breaks into the box
The keeper is beaten
A first minute lead for Whitstable
Harry Goodger scores for the home team as Whitstable appeal for offside

The second half saw the usual wave of substitutions from both teams. Whitstable had a great shout for a penalty turned down and Hollands and Blair had another goal chalked off for offside. Whitstable showed some good touches in midfield, but were struggling to add to their score, with trialist Alex Anderson getting into some good positions on several occasions without testing the goalkeeper. He finally put his team back in front in the 61st minute, finding the net after some good play by Liam Gillies. Whitstable looked likely to increase their lead, but it was the home team that scored after the ball was given away in midfield and eventually fell kindly for Caleb Bearman-Dyce in the box and he shot past Eason to make it 2-2 on 81 minutes. Whitstable played out the remaining time with ten men, generally keeping possession quite well with a 4-4-1 shape, which will be useful practice should the team find itself in this position during the months ahead. There were no further goals, although James Trueman and Muhammed Cham both threatened to find a winner.

Liam Dickson had a good game
Alex Anderson shoots past the goalkeeper
Whitstable lead 2-1
Reiss Crimmen blocks a shot by Liam Gillies
Muhammed Cham tries to find a late winner

It was a useful workout on a tricky playing surface against a physical team containing some good players and we wish Simon Halsey and his new squad all the best for the season ahead. The next game see champions Cray Wanderers visit the Belmont on Saturday afternoon.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jake Mackenzie, Taylor Fisher, Connor Sanders, Liam Dickson, Tom Bryant (c), Osman Proni, Luke Girt, Marcus Elliott, Tarik Ibrahim, Alex Anderson.
Subs: Owen Fitt, Danny Patterson, James Trueman, Liam Gillies, John Walker, Muhammed Cham, Harry Stannard, Ryan Birch.
Goals: Tarik Ibrahim 1, Alex Anderson 61.

Hollands and Blair
No team line up received
Goals: Harry Goodger 38, Caleb Bearman-Dyce 81.

Attendance: n/a
Referee: Piotr Zachweija

The manager’s thoughts:

“On Saturday we took part in our second pre-season game, away at Hollands and Blair. Simon Halsey has had a busy summer constructing a very competitive side and I knew they would present us with a whole different set of challenges and problems than what we encountered against Thanet United. Up against a physical and strong opposition on a very difficult pitch was going to be a test of our bravery, both physically and tactically.

What impressed me was the players weren’t phased and continued to look do to the right things that we’ve been working on. Yes, there were obviously things we need to work on but considering we’ve only been together for four sessions, I was immensely pleased with our work. Players are taking information on at a rate quicker than I expected.

It was great to see Harry back and we were forced to give him more minutes then we would’ve ideally liked when Tarik Ibrahim felt some tightness in his hamstring. Tarik took his first goal very well and I was pleased with how we started.

There were areas I felt we needed to do better in the first half and after a chat during the break I was pleased with how we then controlled the game and to be honest had it not been for a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions then we would’ve found ourselves three maybe four up, but I’d rather those dodgy calls now than in a month’s time.

Dan Eason’s distribution was outstanding and he has really taken what I have asked him to do in his stride. Myself and Laney have had plenty of conversations and Dan really has impressed me with the role I have asked of him.

Girty looked like the Girty we know in the second half and having worked with Luke before he knows the things I require and fair play to him, he’s taking it all on board.

Senior players are really standing up to the task and the younger lads are learning quickly and it was definitely a game that was more representative of a league game and we all agreed afterwards, a fantastic workout.

Best of luck to Simon and his staff. We were made to feel really welcome and I wish them all the best for the season.

We know have a full week of training before we entertain last season’s champions Cray Wanderers. There’s no doubt it will be an extremely tough challenge but one we look forward to.