ASHFORD UNITED 0 WHITSTABLE TOWN 1
Tuesday August 1 2017 19.45
Whitstable won their last, and only away, pre-season game at Homelands, beating last season’s champions Ashford United by a single goal. The decisive moment came after 20 minutes as Ollie Lee powered a near post header past George Kamurasi from a Harry Brown corner. The big Ashford keeper had just pulled off a double save from a Charlie Smith penalty and he made a few other great blocks to prevent Whitstable adding to their score. It was a good performance with a number of regular starters being rested from the team that included three young academy players and former Oyster favourite Nick Treadwell who is currently back in the UK.
With the FA Cup campaign starting at the weekend, Whitstable manager Scott Porter took this opportunity to experiment and young defender Teddy Nelson played alongside Rob Gillman in the centre of defence. Forwards Ricky Freeman, Harry Goodger and Danny Williams sat this game out, but Charlie Smith and Harris Rodgers impressed in their place. Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant and the injured pair James Morrish and Craig Cloke also played no part on the pitch. Top scorer Shaun Welford was a notable absentee from the Ashford line up on this occasion, but summer recruit from Burgess Hill, Tyrell Richardson-Brown did start.
The first real chance fell to Rodgers on 6 minutes as he got a clear sight of goal, but Kamurasi made a good save. The ball was cleared as far as Sam Brown who played Lee in, but the big goalkeeper spread himself to block again. At the other end Dan Eason saved a low shot from Ben Davisson and then after some good play by the dangerous Richardson-Brown, the ball came out to Rory Hill, who tried his luck, but Eason was again able to deal with his shot.
Smith then broke clear, but was taken out by Kamurasi just outside the box and had it not been a pre-season fixture, a card would probably have followed. Harry Brown struck the resulting free kick into the wall. On 19 minutes though the referee awarded Whitstable a penalty as Richard Avery brought down Smith, who took the spot kick himself but his shot was saved low to his right by Kamurasi. The keeper was soon up to push Smith’s follow up attempt out for a corner. The danger was not averted however as Harry Brown swung over the corner and Lee rose unchallenged to head the ball powerfully into the net to give Whitstable the lead.
On 25 minutes Ashford won a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box, but Hill struck it over the bar. Just afterwards Rodgers ran through the Ashford defence and, with the help of a rebound, found himself with just Kamurasi to beat, but once again the keeper saved. The ball came back to Rodgers who curled a right footed effort just high and wide.
A great 20 yard strike by Jason Goodchild was beaten away by Eason, before Lee picked up an injury in a midfield challenge. A Harry Brown free kick was well defended at the far post and the last meaningful action of the half saw Richardson-Brown cut in from the left and blaze a shot just wide of the far post.
Both teams began to make changes from the start of the second half. Whitstable won a couple of early corners and almost made something of the second, but the ball went just wide. Richardson-Brown created another chance, this time for Adrian Stone, but his shot was blocked. There were fewer chances as the game progressed, although both teams won a few corners that were generally well defended. Amongst the Whitstable substitutes were academy players Charlie Vass and goalkeeper Ryan Birch, who both had some time on the pitch. A few minutes before the end a good pass by Louis Sprosen released Stuart West, who had replaced the hard working Smith up front, but he was also denied by the home goalkeeper as he pulled off another good save low to his right. The resultant corner was taken short, then crossed to Stuart West who headed just wide. The game ended a few minutes later.
Whitstable have now completed their pre-season programme with four wins and a draw, all against higher league opponents. The manager has some tricky selection problems before the important business starts on Saturday with Croydon the visitors to the Belmont in the FA Cup and a home tie against Faversham Town is the reward for the winners.
George Kamurasi, Sam Long (Matt Kirby 46), Charlie Sharp, David Botterill, Richard Avery, John Differs (Ollie Perkins 87), Tyrell Richardson-Brown, Ben Davisson (Tom Draper 78), Adrian Stone (Micky Phillips 63), Jason Goodchild (Brandon Williams 66), Rory Hill.
Dan Eason (Ryan Birch 72), Carl Harrold (George Savage 72), Jack West, Teddy Nelson (Ashley Brown 60), Rob Gillman (c), Nick Treadwell, Sam Brown (Charlie Vass 83), Ollie Lee (Louis Sprosen 46), Charlie Smith (Stuart West 55), Harris Rodgers, Harry Brown.
Subs (unused): Aaron Quain, Harry Goodger, Tom Bryant, Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams.
Goal: Ollie Lee 20