Emirates FA Cup – First Round Qualifying
Saturday September 8 2018 15.00

Whitstable were dumped out of the FA Cup by an impressive Bognor Regis team in front of nearly 300 spectators at the Belmont Ground. Whitstable created a few early opportunities, without testing the goalkeeper, but were soon behind to a great strike by Jimmy Muitt who lifted the ball over Dan Eason into the far corner from outside the box. He doubled the lead midway through the half, firing a low cross past Eason when the home defence failed to react quickly enough. Tom Walmsley was denied by a good Dan Lincoln save, when it looked as though he might bring Whitstable back into the game. Most of the action though was at the other end and a string of fines saves by Eason kept the score to 2-0 at the break. An early second half goal by Bradley Lethbridge put the result beyond doubt, when he found the far corner following a pull back by Muitt. Eason continued to perform heroically in the home goal, but he was unable to prevent further goals from Portsmouth loanee Dan Smith and substitute Mason Walsh, who competed the scoring with a great finish. The biggest cheer of the day from the home supporters came in the closing minutes when Whitstable finally won a corner that was headed over the bar by Tom Bryant.

Having successfully negotiated the two preliminary rounds, Whitstable had already banked just over £5,000 in prize money and this was a chance to add a further £6,000. It always looked likely to be a difficult challenge once the draw was made, with Bognor being one of the stronger teams to enter the competition at this stage. They were relegated from the National League South last season, but have started well in the Bostik Premier League this time around. Top scorer Dan Smith and Bradley Lethbridge are on loan from Portsmouth, who gave permission for them both to play in this cup tie and Bognor also included Joe Tomlinson, a new loan signing from Brighton. Whitstable, despite beating Ashford United in their previous game, were still short of numbers. Tom Bryant was fit enough to return on the bench, which also included Harry Brown, who has yet to play since his knee operation.

Both goalkeepers had early crosses to deal with, but the opening goal arrived in the 6th minute. A ball forward down the right by Calvin Davies bounced into the path of Muitt, who shrugged off the covering defender and hit a great shot from the edge of the box that flew over Eason and into the top left hand corner of the net. Despite the early setback, Whitstable pushed forward in the next few minutes and won a free kick on the left that was taken by Wright, but Jai McKinlay headed the ball over the top. A cross by Ricky Freeman was only cleared as far as Chris Saunders, who shot wide from 20 yards. Tomlinson tried his luck from distance, but his low shot was safely gathered by Eason, then a dangerous cross from the Whitstable right was just missed by a stretching Walmsley. A great chip by Muitt from the left edge of the box was tipped over the bar by Eason. In the 22nd minute however, the visitors added a second goal when a free kick on the right edge of the penalty area was played low into the box by Harvey Whyte. Muitt was first to the ball and hit a first time shot into the bottom right corner.

Dan Lincoln claims an early cross
Chris Saunders tries a shot from outside the box
Jimmy Muitt scores the second for Bognor

Whitstable almost pulled a goal back on 26 minutes, when a Wright cross into the box was taken down by Walmsley, but his shot was pushed away by Bognor goalkeeper Lincoln, who had a trial for Arsenal last season. Bognor then won a free kick on the left and Davies tried for the top corner from a narrow angle, but Eason managed to turn the ball around the near post. Davies tried another dipping shot from the resulting corner, but Eason again denied him, getting across to save at the far post. A few minutes later another Bognor corner was played into Smith at the near post, but the busy Eason made a great block. As half time approached Freeman turned and shot just over the bar from 20 yards, but the last meaningful action before the break saw Eason make yet another save, this time from Muitt.

Tom Walmsley shoots, but his effort is saved
Dan Eason saves from Calvin Davies

Whitstable had struggled to match their opponents in the first half, but thanks to Eason they were just about still in the tie. They needed to find an early response after the restart, but it was Bognor who extended their lead on 49 minutes when a Muitt shot was parried by Eason, but the Bognor number ten next pulled the ball back for Lethbridge and he fired it into the bottom corner past the Whitstable goalkeeper. The home goal was soon under siege again when three shots in quick succession from Lethbridge, Muitt and Smith were all somehow kept out. It was soon 0-4 though when Lethbridge slipped the ball through to Smith and he shot into the bottom left corner, giving Eason no chance.

Eason parries a shot from Muitt
Bradley Lethbridge makes it 3-0
The Whitstable keeper saves another shot
This time Dan Smith’s shot beats Eason and it’s 4-0

Both teams then made substitutions, but the pattern of the game continued, as Eason parried a fierce shot by Tommy Scutt. On 67 minutes there was a goalmouth scramble with several attempted shots blocked before Scutt was denied by Eason from close range. The fifth goal did arrive in the 73rd minute, when substitute Mason Walsh, the son of former Liverpool and Tottenham striker Paul, took the ball across the box before letting fly from 20 yards and finding he top right corner. Further substitutions followed and Corey Heath picked up the only caution of the game for a late challenge on John Walker. Muitt made space for himself on the 18 yard line, but Eason was able to push his shot over the bar. On 87 minutes, Whitstable won a corner, to the delight of the Oysterboys behind the goal, and Bryant rose highest to meet the delivery by Freeman, but looped his header over the bar. Walker tried a long shot that missed the target and the final whistle sounded right on 90 minutes to confirm a place for Bognor in the next round.

The home defence are in a heap, but Eason saves again

It was a comprehensive win for the Rocks, whose performance was one of the best by a visiting team at the Belmont. Whitstable kept trying, but never threatened a surprise result. Eason was rightly named the home “man of the match” for his magnificent contribution to keeping the score down. The midweek league cup tie at Ramsgate has been postponed due to their involvement in an FA Cup replay, so Whitstable next play on Saturday at Phoenix Sports.

Whitstable Bognor Regis
6 Attempts 22
1 On Target 18
1 Corners 10
0 Offside 5
8 Free Kicks Won 9

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright (Kyran Connolly 78), John Walker, Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Teddy Nelson, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman, Tom Walmsley, Jai McKinlay (Tom Bryant 56).
Subs (unused): Chris Elliott, Harry Brown.

Bognor Regis Town
Dan Lincoln, Calvin Davies, Joe Tomlinson, Doug Tuck, Chad Field (Tommy Scutt 56), Keaton Wood (Corey Heath 74), Harvey Whyte (c), Tommy Block, Dan Smith, Jimmy Muitt, Bradley Lethbridge (Mason Walsh 65).
Sub (unused): Charlie Osborne
Goals: Jimmy Muitt 6, 22, Bradley Lethbridge 49, Dan Smith 55, Mason Walsh 73.
Yellow card: Corey Heath 80

Attendance: 297
Referee: Ryan Whitaker
Assistants: Wally James & Jak Hill


Date Time League Season
Sat 8 Sep 2018 3:00 pm Emirates FA Cup 2018-2019


The Belmont Ground
58 Grimshill Rd, Whitstable CT5 4LN, UK