SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 14 2018 15.00

A testing week, that started with an extra time cup final win, followed by a battle with Glebe and a difficult trip to Crowborough, came to an end in the tranquil surroundings of Jockey Farm on a sunny afternoon. After the intensity of the game on Thursday evening, Whitstable took a while to get going against relegation threatened Rusthall, with the chief goal threat coming from set pieces and Stuart West saw one header cleared off the line and also had an effort ruled out for offside. Dan Hanshaw and Steph Harper both had good chances for Rusthall, before Ricky Freeman finished well after a knock down to give Whitstable the lead on 38 minutes. Dan Eason superbly tipped a Harper drive over the bar just before the break. Whitstable created more chances in the second half, but struggled to hit the target and Harper should have equalised on 60 minutes, but missed from close range. Danny Williams finally settled the nerves when he won a penalty, then tucked away the rebound after Callum Christie had initially saved his spot kick. Chris Saunders soon added a third, allowing Whitstable to coast through the last 20 minutes to their ninth straight win.

Manager Scott Porter named the same eleven that had won at Crowborough less than 48 hours earlier. Craig Cloke made a return as a substitute after an injury lay off, whilst Josh Burchell was still suspended. Rusthall have recently slipped into the bottom two, so need some points to ensure they remain in this division for more than just one season. The reverse fixture at the Belmont resulted in a 2-0 home win, although fewer than half of the Rusthall team from that day started here.

The first half was a fairly even affair that contained a few chances for both teams. Freeman shot wide on the turn, when he was left in space in the box in the 3rd minute, then Tom Bryant and West each got their head to corners, but neither were on target. Sloppy defending left Hanshaw free on the edge of the penalty area, but he lifted his shot over the bar with just Eason to beat. Rusthall had a good spell, winning two corners and shooting wide on a couple of occasions. In the 21st minute, John Walker burst into the box and won a corner on the right that was taken by Macauley Murray, in the absence of Burchell. West rose highest and headed the ball towards goal, but it was cleared off the line by Stuart Thorley. The next Whitstable corner was partially cleared, but when the ball came back into the box, it was headed down and West put it in the net, only to be denied by an offside flag.

Stuart West heads towards goal
The ball is cleared off the line
Stuart West has one ruled out for offside

Freeman was booked following a challenge on the home goalkeeper. On 31 minutes, the former Burgess Hill and Folkestone striker, Harper created a chance for himself on the edge of the box, but Eason was able to make the save. Whitstable had not been at their best, but opened the scoring when a Murray free kick from the right was swung into the box and after Whitstable had won a couple of challenges the ball dropped nicely for the in-form Freeman to sweep home from about 8 yards.

Ricky Freeman is about to pounce on the loose ball
Whitstable lead 1-0

Shortly afterwards, Freeman brought the ball down on his chest and shot over the bar, then Rob Gillman and Louis Sprosen combined to create another opening for Freeman, but he volleyed over again. In added time, Harper once more found himself with just Eason to beat, but the Whitstable keeper pulled off a great save, tipping a well struck shot just over the bar. The resulting corner was headed wide by Daniel Mitchell and the home team were perhaps a little unfortunate to trail 1-0 at the break.

Immediately after the restart, a good break by Freeman and Williams created a chance for Walker, but he dragged his shot just wide of the far post. After an injury delay, while the Rusthall keeper Callum Christie received treatment, Walker shot wide in similar fashion, as he was played in again by the two Whitstable strikers. On 57 minutes, Saunders was fouled by Luke Stratford as he released the ball, but the referee played a good advantage, leaving Freeman time to line up a shot, but he sent the ball past the foot of the left post and Stratford was subsequently cautioned for the foul. The injured Thorley was then substituted by Dan Kommu and he almost made an instant impact as his left wing cross was helped on by Hanshaw, but Harper drove the ball the wrong side of the near post when he seemed certain to score. Rusthall would not get a better chance.

John Walker shoots just wide

Sprosen had two efforts following the next Whitstable corner, the first being blocked and then, as the ball came back to him, he curled a shot just wide. After a brief spell of pressure from the home team, Freeman pulled the ball back for Saunders, who struck the right hand post from inside the 6 yard box. On 70 minutes, Sprosen played the ball down the left to Freeman, who crossed to Williams and he was fouled as he was about to shoot and the referee awarded a penalty. Williams hit it low down the middle, where it was kept out by the legs of Christie, but the Whitstable striker was able to fire home the rebound.

Chris Saunders hits the post
Callum Christie saves the penalty with his legs
Danny Williams follows in to score

Cloke made his playing return when he came on to replace Bryant for the last 20 minutes. In the 73rd minute a Rusthall free kick was well defended by Gillman and Whitstable struck again on the break. Williams raced away and picked out James Morrish, whose shot was saved by Christie. The ball was soon back in the box however and this time Saunders made no mistake, finding the far corner to make it 3-0.

Chris Saunders shoots across goal
Whitstable have their third goal

The points were safe, but there were a few more chances at both ends and each team made use of their three substitutes. Mitchell was booked for a challenge on Sprosen. Kommu and Harper had further attempts for Rusthall, but Eason was not seriously tested. Cloke and West were both too high with efforts, before Freeman carved out a good chance for Whitstable substitute Shaun Welford, but his shot also went over the bar. In added time, Williams made a great run from his own half down the left to win a corner, which was eventually headed over by West and then Teddy Nelson glanced a Murray free kick just wide.

Another win for Whitstable

The win was comfortable enough in the end, but Rusthall did have a few opportunities that they failed to take and Whitstable will be pleased to have kept their great run going after a busy week. Things do not get any easier however with 7 more league games to play in the final 15 days of the season.

Rusthall Whitstable
12 Attempts 22
4 On Target 7
5 Corners 9
0 Offside 4
13 Free Kicks Won 11

Callum Christie, Daniel Mitchell, Stuart Thorley (Dan Kommu 59), Paul Butler (c), Stewart Gostlow, Luke Stratford, Matt Hathway, Jack Humphrey, Daniel Hanshaw (George Rogers 79), Steph Harper, Joe Fuller (Ryan Waterman 68).
Sub (unused): James Jordan
Yellow cards: Luke Stratford 57, Daniel Mitchell 76.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Louis Sprosen, Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (Craig Cloke 70), Chris Saunders (Teddy Nelson 76), James Morrish (c) (Shaun Welford 80), Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Owen Fitt, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Ricky Freeman 38, Danny Williams 70, Chris Saunders 73.
Yellow card: Ricky Freeman 26

Attendance: 102
Referee: Nick Fruin
Assistants: Danny Geary & Liam Vitoria


Date Time League Season
Sat 14 Apr 2018 3:00 pm SCEFL1718 2017-2018


Jockey Stadium
Nellington Rd, Tunbridge Wells, UK


Club1st Half2nd HalfGoals
Whitstable Town123