WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 CROYDON 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday January 13 2018 15.00
Whitstable beat Croydon at the Belmont for the second time in five days, this time picking up a valuable three points to push them up into fourth place in the league. It was a more competitive game than the previous 4-0 victory, but the home side were dominant in the early stages and had already gone close on a couple of occasions when Ricky Freeman rifled a shot past Alex Hewitt in the 4th minute. Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal had very little to do before the break, but despite a few close shaves Whitstable were unable to extend their advantage. In the 53rd minute, a good run by Ronnie Dolan was ended when he was brought down in the box and Danny Williams calmly slotted the penalty into the corner of the net to make it 2-0. Croydon introduced a bit more pace from the bench and Raekwon Bailey-Allen did at least force Eason to make a couple of saves, but Whitstable held on for the win with few real alarms.
Both teams made a few changes to their line ups for this game, with three different starters in the home team and four in the Croydon team. Chris Saunders joined Louis Sprosen and Shaun Welford on the Whitstable injury list along with Charlie Smith, who was still suffering from vision problems after getting struck in the face by the ball during the previous game. James Morrish was serving the first of a three match ban. Rob Gillman returned to the defence with Stuart West moving into midfield. The other two additions were Ronnie Dolan, making his debut in midfield after his dual registration signing from Folkestone Invicta, and Ricky Freeman, who was back in the number nine shirt. Croydon brought in Daniel Hector, Bradley Wilson, David Owusu and Trey Williams, who was last seen playing for Sheppey at the Belmont earlier in the season.
Perhaps inspired by the midweek win, Whitstable started really well, pressing Croydon high up the pitch and not giving them any time on the ball. Macauley Murray and Freeman created the first opening for Danny Williams, whose shot was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Hewitt and from the corner that followed, the ball was helped on and went narrowly wide of the far post. The crowd of 164 did not have to wait long for the first goal though, as Dolan chased down the ball and it was collected by Freeman who struck it perfectly, just inside the near post from the right side of the box, giving the Croydon goalkeeper no chance.
A promising run by Trey Williams at the other end came to nothing as he shot tamely wide. A Whitstable free kick in the centre circle was taken by Murray and Craig Cloke met the ball, sending it across goal, but it went just past the post with no one able to apply the finishing touch. Jamie McGeoghegan picked up a blood injury and had to leave the field before returning wearing the number seventeen shirt and a bandage around his head. Whitstable won a couple of corners, the first of which was swung in by Josh Burchell and Tom Bryant rose highest, but he was unable to keep his header down.
On the half hour mark, Croydon were awarded a free kick that did not meet with the approval of most in the ground and Freeman talked himself into the book before the Whitstable manager was also asked to calm down by the referee. The away team looked lively at times going forward, but Cloke , Bryant and Gillman were generally quick to clear any danger and Eason did not really have any shots to deal with in the first half. The Croydon goalkeeper saw more action, clearing a few balls crossed into the box, saving a Freeman snap shot from distance and he had to be alert to deny Freeman again when he got the better of Nathan Campbell after Bryant sent a good header into the penalty area. The away bench were given a lecture by the referee after some complaints and in stoppage time Melvin Adesida was booked following a series of fouls and from the resultant free kick, Gillman glanced a header just wide.
Just after the interval, Burchell became the next player to be booked for committing too many fouls and then Dolan was also cautioned after reacting to several challenges on him as he tried to shield the ball. A good cross from John Walker was a fraction too high for Burchell, but just afterwards Dolan picked up the ball and went past a couple of challenges before being felled in the box. The referee pointed instantly to the penalty spot, but the assistant then flagged for offside against a different player. After some debate, they decided, correctly, that the penalty award should stand and Williams stepped up, sent Hewitt the wrong way and found the bottom right hand corner.
Croydon threatened the home goal after a good move down their right, but Gillman was across to defend well. Whitstable were back on the attack as the game became more open and West found Freeman whose shot from 35 yards was collected by Hewitt. West was soon in the action again, holding the ball up in the box, but the whistle blew for a Croydon free kick before the ball hit the back of their net. Croydon introduced a couple of substitutes, with Bailey-Allen in particular looking full of running and causing a few new problems for the home defence. He forced Eason into his first save in the 65th minute with a shot from outside the box. At the other end, Danny Williams lobbed the ball just wide and then created a chance for Freeman, whose shot was parried by Hewitt with Walker just unable to get to the rebound. Eason got down well to turn another Bailey-Allen shot around the post for Croydon’s first corner on 68 minutes.
After the final Croydon substitution, Freeman was pulled back when chasing a through ball and Cloke had a header saved when he was first to Murray’s free kick. The final 20 minutes saw a couple of corners at each end and Whitstable brought on three academy players: Rhys Brain, Teddy Nelson and Owen Fitt. There were few clear chances, although another good run and shot by Bailey-Allen ended safely in the hands of Eason and Cloke had a well struck free kick deflected wide after Sinn’Kaye Christie was booked for bringing down Danny Williams. The final action was a wild shot over the top by Daniel Hector and an entertaining game ended in a 2-0 home win, pushing Whitstable one place higher up the table. Croydon showed plenty of pace and skill going forward, particularly in the later stages, but Whitstable defended well and Eason enjoyed a relatively comfortable afternoon. The next game is the Kent Senior Trophy quarter final, away to Erith Town in a rare Sunday outing.
|11||Free Kicks Won||12|
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell (Teddy Nelson 86), Rob Gillman, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Ronnie Dolan, Danny Williams, Ricky Freeman (Rhys Brain 77), Stuart West, Macauley Murray (Owen Fitt 90).
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Ricky Freeman 4, Danny Williams (pen) 53.
Yellow cards: Ricky Freeman 30, Josh Burchell 47, Ronnie Dolan 49.
Alex Hewitt, Sinn’Kaye Christie, Melvin Adesida (Daniel Lukombo 56), Bryan Akongo, Jamie McGeoghegan (Andy Mott 70), Nathan Campbell (c), Daniel Hector, Bradley Wilson, David Owusu, Eidan Fejzi (Raekwon Bailey-Allen 63), Trey Williams.
Sub (unused): Aidan Brown
Yellow cards: Melvin Adesida 45+3, Sinn’Kaye Christie 87.
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
Assistants: Andy Butler & Chris Spalding