Good Game Ends Goalless

Pre-season friendly
Saturday July 29 2017 15.00

The last of four home friendlies against higher league opposition was a competitive, end to end game against a good AFC Hornchurch team. Both sides were unable to find a way through despite creating some decent chances and Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal made some good saves to help preserve his team’s unbeaten record.

Whitstable were still without their injured skipper Craig Cloke and also missing from the squad were Aaron Quain, Charlie Smith and Harris Rodgers, although young academy goalkeeper Ryan Birch was on the bench. Tom Bryant wore the captain’s armband. The visitors made four changes to their starting eleven from the team that had drawn 0-0 with Leyton Orient earlier in the week.

Both teams started positively and though Whitstable had a spell of attacking, the first real chance went the way of the visiting side after 10 minutes when a good cross by left back Jay Porter found the head of Martin Tuohy, but Eason got down well to save at the far post. Shortly afterwards a corner taken by Bradley Warner was played to the edge of the 18 yard area where George Purcell fired just over. A ball in from the right was then helped towards the goal by Tuohy, but Eason again made a good save near the post.

Dan Eason saves

After Theo Fairweather-Johnson had shot just wide of the near post, Whitstable won three corners in quick succession, as Harry Goodger and Ricky Freeman caused some problems for the defence. The third was swung into a crowded box by Harry Brown where the ball was deflected towards goal as Danny Williams challenged former Whitstable keeper Sam Mott, but it was cleared off the line by Porter.

Jay Porter clears off the line

Whitstable won a number of corners and free kicks in their opponents half, but the delivery was often not good enough to cause problems. Williams did well to break through on the left, but his ball across was cleared. As half time approached Bryant went down under a heavy challenge in midfield, play was allowed to continue by the referee and the ball was fed through to Warner, but he was denied by Eason.

An early Whitstable free kick in the second half was partially cleared, the ball was played back in by Ollie Lee and Jamie Hursit did well to intercept and avert the danger. Eason had to be alert again to save from Tuohy when another Porter cross came in from the left. On 48 minutes, Elliot Styles received the first card shown by any referee in Whitstable’s pre-season campaign after a foul and a subsequent debate. Whitstable then won another three corners, one of which came after a good attempt by Louis Sprosen from the right was deflected narrowly over the bar.

Just over the top

Hornchurch broke down the left and the ball reached Fairweather-Johnson, but Stuart West was across quickly to block. The teams then started to make some substitutions and one of them, Ross Wall, headed a chance wide for the visitors. At the other end a rare error by Mott allowed the ball to reach Bryant, but his shot rebounded off the leg of a defender and a follow up effort by Freeman was saved. A few minutes later, Freeman felt he was fouled, but the referee thought otherwise and his protests led to him becoming the first Whitstable player to pick up a yellow card. Eason comfortably tipped a Jared Chouman free kick over the bar and then Goodger managed to get in a shot from the edge of the box, but Mott was able to make a routine save.

On 80 minutes a cross by Wall found an unmarked Fairweather-Johnson, but his header was well over the bar. Sam Brown was booked for a foul on 88 minutes, before Whitstable defended a couple of late attacks well and an entertaining match ended in a 0-0 draw. As the players left the pitch, the light rain that had been falling for a while, became decidedly heavier.

Late defending from the home side

Whitstable have one final scheduled friendly at Ashford United on Tuesday, prior to the FA Cup match at home to Croydon next weekend.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, George Savage (Carl Harrold 78), Harry Brown, Stuart West, Ashley Brown (Rob Gillman 60), Tom Bryant (c), Louis Sprosen, Ollie Lee (Sam Brown 67), Ricky Freeman, Harry Goodger (Jack West 76), Danny Williams.
Subs (unused): James Morrish, Ryan Birch.
Yellow cards: Ricky Freeman 62, Sam Brown 88.

AFC Hornchurch
Sam Mott, Jamie Hursit, Jay Porter, Alex Bentley, Paul Goodacre (Tobi Joseph 70), Elliot Styles (Gary Cohen 70), Theo Fairweather-Johnson (Josh Hutchings 82), Jared Chouman (Taj Hussain 85), Martin Tuohy (Leon McKenzie 55), George Purcell (Ross Wall 55), Bradley Warner (Francis 75).
Yellow card: Elliot Styles 48

Attendance: 121
Referee: Kane Dempster
Assistants: Dan Doyle & Roger Wadhams