Points Shared At The Belmont

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday February 17 2018 15.00

Whitstable and Lordswood battled to a 1-1 draw in a poor game at the Belmont Ground on a sunny, but chilly afternoon. For the first third of the match, Whitstable pushed forward, winning six corners, but failed to create any clear goal scoring opportunities. Jordan Wells made one promising early run for the visitors, but the goalkeepers had little to do until Ricky Freeman opened the scoring with a good finish in the 30th minute. Shortly afterwards Lordswood won their first corner, from which an unmarked Joe Kane headed the equaliser from close range. As half time approached, Freeman shot over the bar when well placed and Dan Eason had to get down quickly to gather the ball after the Whitstable defence had failed to clear. Neither team managed a serious effort on target after the interval, as the defences dealt comfortably with any danger. Whitstable rarely looked like extending their winning run, as Lordswood seemed content to settle for a point to maintain their own unbeaten start to 2018.

Whitstable manager Scott Porter had a full squad at his disposal as league action returned to the Belmont. John Walker returned to the team, leaving a strong looking bench. Lordswood arrived in good form themselves, having not lost since a 4-3 defeat at Hollands and Blair at the end of December. Their team contained a number of players who had appeared in a Whitstable shirt in recent seasons. The pitch had dried considerably in the previous few days, but was still a little soft in places.

The home team began quite confidently and the majority of the early play took place in the Lordswood half. Wells did cause a few problems for the Whitstable defence with a good run down the right, but his low cross was blocked as it came into the box. Whitstable won a number of corners and sent in a few other crosses and deflected shots, but Ryan Chandler in the Lordswood goal was relatively untroubled, although he was at full stretch to tip one dangerous Josh Burchell corner away from the waiting home attackers. James Huggins hit a free kick into the Whitstable box that almost caused problems before the ball was eventually cleared. The deadlock was broken when Walker played a low pass forward from the right and the ball reached Freeman in space just inside the penalty area and he controlled it before shooting past Chandler into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Lordswood responded quickly when a Bradley Webb corner was swung in from the left and Kane found himself unmarked in the six yard box and headed the ball past Eason, who had stayed on his line.

Early pressure from Whitstable
Ricky Freeman scores
Contrasting emotions
Joe Kane heads the equaliser

After Whitstable had failed to make the most of another corner, Danny Williams found himself in the book for an aerial challenge. Little else of note happened until the last few minutes of the half. A great cross field ball by Tom Bryant picked out Williams and he headed the ball back across the box to Freeman who had an opportunity to put his team back in front, but he lifted the ball over the bar. At the other end, a mistake in the home defence almost gifted the visitors a half time lead, but Eason was quickly down to gather the ball.

Ricky Freeman tries for a second goal
It’s over the bar

The second half started with a couple of free kicks for each team, before a Lordswood ball across the box was well cut out by Walker with a last ditch interception. James Morrish picked up the ball in his own half and burst forward, only to be brought down by Jordan Gallagher who was booked by the referee.

James Morrish breaks away
Jordan Gallagher collects a yellow card for this tackle

Both teams then made substitutions with Helge Orome coming on for Lordswood and Shaun Welford and Louis Sprosen replacing Williams and Walker for Whitstable. It was Welford who had the next attempt, heading a Macauley Murray over the bar in a crowded area. Lordswood had a couple of corners without troubling Eason and then Freeman was fouled on the edge of the box, earning a booking for Huggins, but the free kick was headed away from danger. Huggins was substituted by ex-Oyster Grant McIlheron shortly afterwards. The referee was having his patience tested as Lordswood looked to run down the clock, although when he did eventually show a card for delaying a throw in, Carl Harrold was perhaps a little unfortunate as he had not been the worst offender. Morrish soon followed him into the book when he took exception to being penalised for a challenge in midfield.

Shaun Welford heads over
Tom Bryant has a late effort saved
James Morrish with the final attempt to win the game

In the five and a bit added minutes, there were a few half chances as firstly Welford headed the ball down for Bryant whose shot was blocked, then a Burchell free kick was deflected past the near post. The hard working Freeman shot wide and finally a Morrish header was comfortably held by Chandler. The whistle soon followed and a game containing little excitement for the crowd ended 1-1. Lordswood defended well once they had quickly cancelled out the Whitstable lead, but the home team will know they will need to play better if they are to collect the points needed to challenge for a top two spot at the end of the season.

Whitstable Lordswood
7 Attempts 3
3 On Target 2
10 Corners 4
3 Offside 1
13 Free Kicks Won 16

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker (Louis Sprosen 74), Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish, Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams (Shaun Welford 67), Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Rob Gillman, Charlie Smith, Teddy Nelson.
Goal: Ricky Freeman 30
Yellow cards: Danny Williams 35, James Morrish 87.

Ryan Chandler, Joe Kane, Carl Harrold, George Blake, Gary Cook (c), Peter Huggens, Bradley Webb (Helge Orome 61), James Huggins (Grant McIlheron 87), Jack Mahon (Frankie Griffin 90+4), Jordan Wells, Jordan Gallagher.
Subs (unused): Jason Hollick, Tom Carter.
Goal: Joe Kane 32
Yellow cards: Jordan Gallagher 56, James Huggins 83, Carl Harrold 85.

Attendance: 138
Referee: Nick Fruin
Assistants: Andrew Worthington & Mark Cheeseman