ROCHESTER UNITED 3 WHITSTABLE TOWN 4
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday December 17 2016 15.00
Whitstable came away from a foggy Rede Court Road with a win after an eventful encounter, despite having to play the second half with ten men. Charlie Smith opened the scoring from close range after a quiet start, but former Whitstable striker Michael Hurcomb equalised for the home side. A good move finished by Ollie Lee put Whitstable back in front before Connor Hood received his second yellow card and was sent off after 44 minutes. Rochester made it 2-2 on the stroke of half time as Steve Rothery fired the ball past Dan Eason. The Whitstable management team reorganised the defence during the interval and Kane Rowland restored the lead on 63 minutes, but Rochester came back again after Whitstable failed to clear a corner and Ricki Holmes scored. The home side were pushing for a winner, but after some good defensive clearances Whitstable played the ball up field and a Charlie Smith shot from the edge of the area found its way into the net to secure the points.
For this first visit to Rochester United, known as Bly Spartans prior to their promotion to the Kent League in 2012, manager Scott Porter moved Connor Hood back to his favoured position on the right and started Charlie Smith as a left wing back in the continued absences of Harry Brown and Aaron Quain through injury. The fog threatened to cause problems at times during a dull and damp afternoon, but conditions remained playable throughout. There was an early booking for Hood as he slid in for a tackle in front of an animated home bench. Smith cleared off the line as the ball bobbled around in the box following a Rochester free kick, then Darren Marsden played the ball through to Rowland who was marginally offside before rolling it into the net. Whitstable were ahead on 16 minutes as Hood was fouled on the right touchline and Jack Mahoney clipped the ball into the area, where after a couple of rebounds it dropped to Smith and with the goal at his mercy he thumped it past the helpless Michael Elder.
Another Rochester free kick was cleared by Smith, back in defence, and Marsden broke quickly with Rowland in support, but his pass was just too firm. Rowland then tried a dipping shot from long distance that was safely gathered by Elder. Rochester were level on 24 minutes as a cross from the right was allowed to reach Hurcomb and he finished well back across the goal past Eason. After a couple of Whitstable corners were cleared, Craig Thompson played a good one-two with Rowland and sent in a low cross from the right that the diving keeper could not quite cut out and Lee was in the right position for a simple finish to make it 2-1.
On 40 minutes a misplaced defensive header by Holmes almost let in Rowland, but Elder got down to block. With just a minute of the half remaining Hood was shown a second yellow card for a foul and the away side were down to ten men. Before Whitstable had time to reorganise, a cross from the right went across the goalmouth with no one able to get a touch until it reached Steve Rothery beyond the far post and he shot into the roof of the net to send the teams in all square at the break.
Whitstable came out for the second half with Lee dropping into a back four alongside Joe Kennett, Rob Gillman and Ashley Brown. Lee and Marsden combined to feed Smith on the left and he was taken out by Reion McFarlane earning him a yellow card from the busy referee. Hurcomb then had a great chance to put the home side in front as he found himself clear with just Eason to beat, but his chip over the keeper also went over the bar. It was Whitstable though who took the lead again as Marsden almost set up Rowland and the ball broke to Lee on the right and he did well to pull it back into the path of Rowland who tucked it past Elder.
Mahoney then tried his luck from 20 yards, but Elder saved comfortably. On 76 minutes, with the fog closing in again, Eason saved a long range shot from Tony Whitaker and then Kennett cleared a dangerous high ball. Into the last 10 minutes and Rochester were getting a lot of balls into the Whitstable penalty area and after a shot was deflected behind, the corner was only partially cleared and Holmes was on hand to bring the scores level again. Mahoney was injured as he attempted to block another ball into the box and had to be helped off the field with Calvin Sedenu replacing him. Alex Kendall headed a corner just over on 90 minutes, but then a ball from Sedenu found Lee on the left and he passed to Smith, who shot through a crowd of players from 20 yards and despite the efforts of Andy Pierce on the line the ball ended in the net. There was enough added time for Kendall to head another corner over the bar and some late pressure was cleared by Sedenu just before the final whistle.
The winning team and their supporters celebrated as it had been a great effort after playing with ten men for half the game and in tricky conditions. The result could have gone either way, but Whitstable showed spirit and just enough quality at key moments to claim the points.
Michael Elder, Reion McFarlane, Steve Rothery, Tony Whitaker, Andy Pierce (c), Ricki Holmes, Rob Alderman, Dan Nash, Michael Hurcomb, Chris McDermott (Dan Gonzalez-Bello 70), Alex Kendall.
Subs (unused): Sam Parrish, Ehis Izokun, Abdul-Raheem Sunmonu, Kevin Penfold.
Goals: Michael Hurcomb 24, Steve Rothery 45+2, Ricki Holmes 81.
Yellow cards: Tony Whitaker 32, Reion McFarlane 49, Alex Kendall 83, Ricki Holmes 90+5.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Charlie Smith, Ashley Brown (Scott Punton 80), Rob Gillman (c), Joe Kennett, Jack Mahoney (Calvin Sedenu 90), Ollie Lee, Craig Thompson, Darren Marsden, Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Goals: Charlie Smith 16, 90+1, Ollie Lee 29, Kane Rowland 63.
Yellow cards: Connor Hood 8, 44, Kane Rowland 40, Craig Thompson 90+3.
Red card: Connor Hood (two yellows) 44
Referee: Harry Wager
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Paul Franks