Poor Display At Easter

Bostik League South East
Saturday April 20 2019 15.00

Whitstable slumped to a heavy defeat at East Grinstead on a pleasantly warm Easter Saturday afternoon. Some changes were made to the team that had beaten Phoenix Sports, with two holiday games in three days in mind, but after a quiet first half an hour, the home team opened up a 3-0 lead by half time. Karn Miller-Neave scored from a free kick, then Greg Cundle added two more just before the break, one from the penalty spot, as Whitstable offered little in response. A couple of half time substitutions helped produce some improvement, but the game was already lost. Whitstable had the majority of the chances in the second half, but were let down by some poor finishing and it was East Grinstead that found the net once more, from their only goal attempt of the half, as Cundle completed his hat-trick when he turned in a low cross.

Whitstable travelled to play a team four points below them in the table in the first of two Easter fixtures. Both teams are set for a mid-table finish and with Whitstable seemingly having their minds on their final home game against Hythe Town on Monday, both captain James Morrish and leading scorer Stephen Smith were rested and joined John Walker and Taylor Fisher on the bench. Stuart West is out for the season, but Louis Sprosen was brought back into the team. East Grinstead had been inconsistent of late, following a 5-2 win against Hythe with 1-5 and 4-5 defeats to Phoenix Sports and VCD.

The game kicked off on the warmest day of the year so far and neither goalkeeper was really tested in the first half an hour. Nick Treadwell had a header easily held by Brannon Daly, Miles Cornwell volleyed wide and Connor Sanders sent a few dangerous long throws into the home penalty area, but Whitstable wasted several free kicks with some wayward deliveries. At the other end, Rob Gillman made two timely tackles, Dan Eason collected a couple of Cundle shots from the edge of the box and Drew Cooney headed a corner over the top. East Grinstead took the lead in the 32nd minute from a free kick. Cundle had earlier struck one into the wall from a similar distance and stood over this one alongside Miller-Neave, but this time it was the left back who curled a shot around the wall and into the bottom left corner.

Callum Emptage tries to hold Ricky Freeman back
Tom Bryant heads clear
Karn Miller-Neave puts East Grinstead ahead from a free kick

Daly just managed to get a hand to a deep Harry Stannard free kick to push the ball safely behind for a corner, which was badly overhit. It was 2-0 in the 42nd minute, when Whitstable gave the ball away in midfield and Cundle squared the ball from the right into the box where Jordan Wright and Jordan Johnson collided and the referee awarded a penalty, as the East Grinstead player ended up on the ground. Cundle easily beat Eason from the spot. Ricky Freeman then collected the ball on the left and broke into the box, where he went down as he was challenged and felt his team should have had a penalty, but the officials did not agree. Things got worse for a lacklustre Whitstable team in added time, when Ollie Boulding played the ball through for Cundle and he shot past Eason to give the “Wasps” at three goal advantage at half time.

Brannon Daly tips the ball away
Greg Cundle scores from the penalty spot

Whitstable introduced Morrish and Smith at the restart and at least produced an improved performance in the second half, having ten goal attempts without making any count however. Morrish shot over as the ball was headed down to him, Freeman was denied by the intervention of Jack Bray as he was about to shoot and Tom Bryant lashed a shot over the bar following a corner. Walker came on in place of Sanders, as Wright was moved into midfield. There were then three yellow cards shown in the space of a few minutes, with Bray for the home team and both Whitstable substitutes going into the book for fouls. In the 72nd minute, the ball was stabbed towards goal from a Freeman corner, but was cleared off the line by Boulding. Wright and Smith combined to set up Freeman who shot over. Whitstable were playing better, but were unable to find a finish and a back header by Smith from another corner was easily saved.

Nick Treadwell rises high
The home defence clear as Ricky Freeman closes in
Ollie Boulding clears the ball off the line

East Grinstead however were not having so much difficulty finding the back of the net and they made it 4-0 from their only real effort of the second half. Mitchell Chapman played the ball out to the right for Boulding and, as Whitstable appealed in vain for an offside flag, he crossed to the near post where Cundle was on hand to complete his hat-trick. Wright slipped a great ball through for Cornwell, but he shot wide with just Daly to beat. Smith then made a good run into the box and played in Morrish, who again shot over the top. In the final moments, Wright and Freeman both had chances to get a consolation, but it was not to be on the day and East Grinstead deservedly collected all three points.

James Morrish hits one over the bar

Whitstable will know that their first half display in particular was about the poorest of the season, but their focus seemed to be more on the Easter Monday fixture at home to Hythe, with so many connections between the two clubs. Hopefully the performance will be better and the season at the Belmont can finish on a positive note, although the main objective for the first campaign back in the Bostik League has already been achieved.

East Grinstead Whitstable
8 Attempts 12
6 On Target 4
5 Corners 5
4 Offside 1
7 Free Kicks Won 14

East Grinstead Town
Brannon Daly, Callum Emptage (c), Karn Miller-Neave, Jordan Johnson, Drew Cooney, Jack Bray, Leo Mazzone, Mitchell Chapman, Marcus Elliott (Jerson Dos Santos 77), Greg Cundle (Orlando Smith 82), Ollie Boulding (O’shaye Hutchinson 87).
Subs (unused): Andrew Pead, Matt Day.
Goals: Greg Cundle pen 42, 45+1, 79, Karn Miller-Neave 32.
Yellow card: Jack Bray 66

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, James Trueman, Nick Treadwell, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (c), Connor Sanders (John Walker 63), Louis Sprosen (James Morrish 46), Ricky Freeman, Harry Stannard (Stephen Smith 46), Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): Taylor Fisher
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 42, John Walker 67, James Morrish 70.

Attendance: 141
Referee: Jamaal Horne
Assistants: Joshua Godfrey & Chimango Gondwe