Lee Header Wins Close Game

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 22 2017 15.00

Whitstable won their final home game of the season thanks to an Ollie Lee goal early in the second half. Cray Valley shaded a quiet first period, as Whitstable conceded too many free kicks and rarely got enough players forward to trouble the visitors. Both teams did have a few opportunities though, with Bola Dawodu volleying a Connor Hood cross just wide for Whitstable and Jason Thompson hitting the post for Cray Valley, who also created a few other openings without really testing Dan Eason. Whitstable were better after the break with fit again substitute Harris Rodgers impressing. After Lee had headed home a Louis Sprosen free kick, it was only really in the final ten minutes that the Millers looked like equalising. Denzel Gayle had a fierce shot kept out by Eason and Jordan Sandiford hit the post from close range when he looked certain to score, but Whitstable held on and remain in fifth place.

For this game, Whitstable were without the suspended trio of Charlie Smith, James Morrish and Brendon Cass, whilst Craig Thompson was also unavailable. Cray Valley made a number of changes to their line up after beating Dulwich Hamlet in the London Senior Cup semi-final on Thursday evening and this was their fourth game in eight days.

Whitstable won an early corner that Rob Gillman headed back across goal, where the ball rebounded off fellow centre back Ashley Brown and went just wide. Thompson curled a Cray Valley free kick over the bar on 10 minutes after Sandiford was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Sprosen went down in the box at the other end, but was shown a yellow card for his efforts by the referee, who adjudged it a dive. Hood then chipped the ball into the box for Dawodu, who could not get a clean shot and his attempt went wide. Aaron Sekhon looped a header over the top from a corner and then a free kick was only partially cleared to Sandiford who skipped past a couple of challenges on the left, before shooting over from a narrow angle. Thompson worked his way into the box following a one-two with Chandler Kasai, but his shot came back off the post.

Kane Rowland sent a header over the bar after being found by Quain. The Whitstable defence then failed to deal with a long ball forward by Frankie Griffin, leaving Kasai free in the box, but he could only lob over Eason and the bar. On 26 minutes Brown passed down the right touchline where Hood took the ball forward and sent in a good cross, but Dawodu volleyed the ball just wide of the far post. Another Cray Valley free kick in a dangerous position was wasted by Thompson, but Quain had to hook the ball off the line as it bounced towards goal following a corner. Jamie Miller saw his shot deflected for another corner after he had latched onto an attempted clearance by Brown.

Cray Valley on the attack

The home supporters raised a cheer when Whitstable were awarded their only free kick of the half on 31 minutes. The free kick count for the visitors reached double figures in the first half, although the situation was to be reversed after the interval with Whitstable winning the majority. Frankie Sawyer shot wide from distance after some good play down the left and then saw another attempt go wide as the interval approached. Goalkeeper Jordan Carey was booked on the stroke of half time after the ball had gone out for a goal kick.

Whitstable made a change at the restart with Rodgers replacing Sawyer, who was struggling with an injury. The early stages of the second half saw Whitstable getting more players forward as they tried to find a goal. Dawodu shot just wide and then Sekhon was booked for a foul on Hood. Whitstable broke the deadlock on 52 minutes after Lee was fouled on the left and Sprosen curled the free kick into the box, where Lee rose to glance a header over everyone and out of the reach of Carey into the far corner.

Ollie Lee gets his head to the ball
The only goal of the game

A few minutes later, Quain played the ball into Rodgers, who turned smartly on the edge of the box but his shot was just too high. Dawodu was booked for a foul on Alastair Gordon, but the free kick was cleared by Brown. Dawodu, Rowland and Rodgers did well to win a corner on the right and the delivery by Quain was met by Lee, but his header was cleared off the line by Jamie Wood. On 64 minutes Cray Valley made all three substitutions, introducing regular starters Denzel Gayle, Aaron Rhule and Taylor McDonagh. A Whitstable free kick was lifted just onto the top of the net by Gillman, although one of the players ended up in the goal, necessitating some emergency repairs as a large hole appeared in the back of the net. Sprosen then had a bouncing shot collected by Carey after being played in by Rodgers and Lee. Seb Rowland replaced brother Kane after 76 minutes.

Rob Gillman puts this one just over the top

The visitors threatened on a few occasions in the closing stages. Hood was caught in possession as he tried to play out of defence and the ball was played to Gayle whose well struck shot was parried by Eason and McDonagh put the rebound wide. Back at the other end, Seb Rowland won a corner that was headed over by Tom Bryant. Cray Valley then had a great opportunity to equalise when a ball by Gordon reached the unmarked Sandiford about 6 yards from goal, but his shot cannoned off the post and away to safety.

Jordan Sandiford hits the post

Whitstable managed to run the clock down with a succession of corners and free kicks in stoppage time and held on for the win. Cray Valley will finish in fourth place and have another cup final to look forward to against Metropolitan Police, whereas Whitstable will finish fifth if they win at Corinthian in the final game. Any other result though could see them overtaken by Sheppey United.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c), Ashley Brown, Ollie Lee, Bola Dawodu, Kane Rowland (Seb Rowland 76), Frankie Sawyer (Harris Rodgers 46), Louis Sprosen.
Subs (unused): Harry Brown, Calvin Sedenu, Harry Brooks.
Goal: Ollie Lee 52
Yellow cards: Louis Sprosen 12, Bola Dawodu 58.

Cray Valley (PM)
Jordan Carey, Alastair Gordon, Frankie Griffin, Jamie Wood (c), Aaron Sekhon, Cem Tumkaya, Chandler Kasai (Denzel Gayle 64), Jamie Miller, Jordan Sandiford, Jason Thompson (Aaron Rhule 64), Enoch Adjei (Taylor McDonagh 64).
Subs (unused): Ashley Sains, Laurence Collins.
Yellow cards: Jordan Carey 45, Aaron Sekhon 50.

Attendance: 109
Referee: Matthew Pollington
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Ryan Andrew