WHYTELEAFE 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 1
Bostik League South East
Saturday March 26 2019 15.00
Whitstable gained a useful point in a 1-1 draw at Whyteleafe to take their unbeaten run to four games. A promising start might well have seen them take the lead, as they pushed the home side back and created several chances, but instead they fell behind when Ashley Robinson found Junior Aikhionbare in the box and he was able to turn and shoot past Dan Eason. Whitstable got the equaliser that their first half performance deserved, when Harry Stannard was fouled in the box and scored from the spot just before the break. Whyteleafe posed more problems in the second half, with a lot of possession and threatening runs at the Whitstable defence, who did a great job of protecting Eason. In fact, neither goalkeeper had a serious save to make in the half and in the end a draw was probably the right result.
When the two teams met back in early November, Whyteleafe left the Belmont having gained a fairly comfortable 2-0 win, but their promising start to the season has recently stuttered and they came into this game on the back of five consecutive defeats. In contrast, Whitstable had put an end to their poor run, winning their last three games. Whyteleafe have a 3G pitch and Whitstable were one of the first to play on it, when they drew 1-1 back in September 2014. Rob Gillman returned to the Whitstable team for this game, having missed the midweek victory against VCD, whilst there was a start for Taylor Fisher.
It was Whitstable that looked the sharper in the opening stages with most of the play in the Whyteleafe half. Stephen Smith did well on the right before finding Jordan Wright, whose shot was blocked and then pushed away by Sheikh Ceesay, who had returned in goal for Whyteleafe in the absence of regular goalkeeper Tyler McCarthy. Smith was causing problems and he next nodded the ball over Nathan Campbell before stabbing it past Ceesay, but the wrong side of the post. A good run and cross by Stuart West was parried by Ceesay, then cleared by his defence. Smith had another effort, latching on to a high ball, but his shot missed the target. Connor Sanders sent a number of long throws into the home penalty area, but Whitstable were unable to really test Ceesay. They had a couple of penalty appeals that were turned down by the referee. There had been little action at the other end, until a tricky run by former Hythe striker Aikhionbare led to a cross that was put wide. In the 19th minute though they took the lead, as Robinson collected the ball in midfield and played a clever pass forward to Aikhionbare with his back to goal, but he turned past the last defender and beat Eason from a few yards out.
The game then became more even, with both goalkeepers relatively untroubled. Matthew O’Donoghue shot wide after a pull back by the lively Aikhionbare and Miles Cornwell helped the ball on for Smith, who turned smartly and volleyed over the bar. As the interval approached, Whitstable pressed forward again, with another Smith shot deflected for a corner. Stannard then exchanged a couple of passes before driving into the box, where he appeared to be brought down by the left leg of Campbell and the referee awarded a penalty. Stannard took the kick and although Ceesay made a good attempt to save, diving to his left, the shot was too good and it was 1-1 in the 44th minute. It is now four goals in four games for Stannard, since his return to Whitstable. Eason had a weak shot to save before the teams left the pitch for half time.
Stannard was almost gifted an early chance in the second half and broke into the box from the right, but the ball just got away from him, allowing Ceesay to gather. Aikhionbare went down in the box, but the officials were not interested in the penalty appeals. Emmanuel Mensah made a good run, but his cross was well cut out, but then Gillman picked up his first booking of the season for halting another threatening break, as the home team tried hard to find a second goal. Whyteleafe took off the experienced Robinson, who had shown some great touches on the ball and brought several cheers from the home supporters, despite looking as though he would have been more comfortable wearing a larger shirt, while Whitstable had to replace the injured West with a fit again John Walker. Marvin Armstrong was getting forward regularly and once made good progress towards goal before being stopped by a timely challenge by Gillman.
Both teams made further substitutions, but the goalkeepers were rarely called into action. Walker delivered a good cross that Ceesay was able to claim and Eason safely collected a downward header from a corner. Whyteleafe continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock and Campbell glanced a header well wide, then Aikhionbare lifted his shot over the bar from a good cross. Whitstable had to play the last few minutes with ten men when Sanders was forced to depart early through injury, with all three substitutions already made, but they held on without too much difficulty to claim a point.
The 1-1 draw brought an end to a losing run for Whyteleafe, while continuing the recent improved form for Whitstable and that will be certainly be put to the test when league leaders Cray Wanderers visit the Belmont on Saturday.
|16||Free Kicks Won||9|
Sheikh Ceesay, Marvin Armstrong, Matthew O’Donoghue, Nathan Campbell (c), Ricardo Thompson (Bryan Akongo 80), Jamie McGeoghegan, Bradley Wilson, Emmanuel Mensah, Junior Aikhionbare, Daniel Hector (Andre McCollin 74), Ashley Robinson (Adam Aziz 59).
Subs (unused): Kelvin Ogboe, Valentino Carpene.
Goal: Junior Aikhionbare 19
Dan Eason, Stuart West (John Walker 68), Taylor Fisher, Jordan Wright, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c), Harry Stannard (Ricky Freeman 76), Stephen Smith (James Trueman 86), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): Nick Treadwell, Harry Brown.
Goal: Harry Stannard pen 44
Yellow cards: Rob Gillman 54, Connor Sanders 83.
Referee: Scott Rudd
Assistants: Stephen Matthews & Nick Blogg