WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 GRAYS ATHLETIC 0
Saturday August 4 2018 15.00
Whitstable started brightly and Tom Bryant headed a corner down for Charlie Smith to score the only goal in the first few minutes. The home side might well have scored again soon afterwards when Brett Ince headed another Jordan Wright corner wide. Grays gradually got into the game and caused some problems with good approach play, but Whitstable defended well throughout with a number of timely blocks and interceptions. When the Essex team did get a sight of goal, they only managed to test Dan Eason on a couple of occasions. Stuart West put a Whitstable chance wide just after the break and Lloyd Anderson later prevented Rob Gillman and Tom Walmsley adding to the score. It was a good workout for both teams, with the competitive season now only a week away.
Grays Athletic play at the same level as Whitstable in the Bostik League North Division and currently ground share at Aveley FC. Whitstable had a number of players returning for this game, although were still without Josh Burchell. Tom Walmsley, a young striker from Folkestone Invicta, started his first match for Whitstable on the bench.
The home team pushed forward well in the opening exchanges, creating several good openings and winning five corners. It was from the third of these that the decisive goal came after only 4 minutes. Bryant met the cross from Wright and the ball dropped for Smith, who made no mistake from close range. A few minutes later, Ince rose unchallenged to meet another corner, but his header flew the wrong side of the left hand post. The Essex team first threatened in the 14th minute, when the Whitstable defence did well to make three blocks in quick succession, before Adeyinka Cole curled a free kick just over the bar from 20 yards. A good ball then released the tall striker Shomari Barnwell, but Eason was quickly off his line to make the save. Whitstable won a free kick in a promising position, but Ince lifted his shot over the top. Back at the other end, Geofrey Okonkwo tried an overhead kick from a Grays corner that was only just off target. Whitstable were then awarded a free kick, from which Bryant had a header comfortably saved by Lloyd Anderson. As the interval approached, Eason had to block a Cole effort from a narrow angle and Ricky Freeman was flagged offside before he put the ball in the net.
At the start of the second half, a Wright free kick from the right reached West at the back post, but his shot was off target. Some good play by Grays eventually led to a free kick right on the 18 yard line, but Cole struck it just wide. A Whitstable free kick from the halfway line caused a few problems in the box, before the ball fell nicely for Gillman, whose low shot was blocked on the line. Both teams made a number of substitutions and one of the home replacements, Nathan Hardwick, made a good run down the right, but no one was able to meet his cross. On 68 minutes Whitstable sent over a couple of crosses and from the second, a Walmsley header towards goal from 3 yards was kept out by Anderson. Grays continued to strive for an equaliser and had several corners, one of which was rolled tamely behind for a goal kick, but it was from a Whitstable corner that they came closest to scoring. The ball was headed across goal by West, but then Grays broke quickly only for Aron Gordon to curl his shot over the bar after getting into a promising position. Chris Saunders had a late shot easily gathered by Anderson, before the referee blew the final whistle.
The season really starts next Saturday for these two teams, as Grays Athletic begin their league campaign with a visit to Witham Town and Whitstable travel to Deal Town in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.
|8||Free Kicks Won||9|
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, John Walker, Teddy Nelson, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Brett Ince (Jai McKinlay 61), James Morrish (c) (Chris Saunders 61), Ricky Freeman (Nathan Hardwick 55), Charlie Smith (Tom Walmsley 55), Stuart West.
Subs (unused): Chris Elliott, Kyran Connolly.
Goal: Charlie Smith 4
Yellow cards: Ricky Freeman 30, Charlie Smith 41.
Lloyd Anderson, Ryan Mahal (Jamie Stuart), Callum Thompson (Anton Johnson 57), Barry Cogan (Jack Curtis 57), Geofrey Okonkwo, Stanley Muguo (c), Mitchel Hahn, Adeyinka Cole, Shomari Barnwell, Usman Adeniji (James Hawkins 73), Aron Gordon.
Sub (unused): Anthony Page
Yellow card: Barry Cogan 54
Referee: Jack Fagg
Assistants: George Lowe & Ryan Andrew