Poor First Half Proves Costly

SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday September 5 2017 19.45

It was a disappointing night for the good contingent of travelling Whitstable supporters as their winning run ended on a damp evening at Deal. The home team played some good football in the first half as they both outthought and outplayed their previously unbeaten opponents. Sam Wilson scored two early goals, first shooting low past Dan Eason and then following in after a free kick had been pushed out by the Whitstable goalkeeper. There could have been more Deal goals as their wide players in particular were allowed far too much space, but Eason pulled off a couple of good saves to keep the score down to 2-0 at the break. Whitstable had been really poor in the first 45 minutes, but got the perfect start to the second half as Craig Cloke headed in a corner to spark hopes of a comeback. It was then a different game with the visitors generally on the front foot, but despite hitting the bar and forcing James Tonkin to make a couple of smart saves, there were no further goals.

Manager Scott Porter made some changes to his side for this match with Carl Harrold coming in as part of a tactical reshuffle, whilst James Morrish and Nick Treadwell started in midfield, meaning Louis Sprosen, Charlie Smith and Danny Williams started on the bench this time. Deal Town had already beaten Beckenham Town and Canterbury City whilst they sat on top of the early season table and were hoping to do it again with Whitstable in first place after the weekend results, although they had lost to Lordswood in their last home fixture. A band of rain passed through the area shortly before the kick off, but conditions improved for the game.

Whitstable won a couple of quick corners, but any early promise was short lived. In just the 5th minute, Charlie Walsh and Steve Butcher created an opening for Sam Wilson and he had the time to fire a left footed shot low past Eason into the far corner. James Morrish sent a long range effort over the bar and Andy Miller shot wide for Deal. A Whitstable long throw was headed on at the near post to Cloke, who tried an overhead kick that just sailed over the bar.

An acrobatic effort just clears the bar

On 15 minutes though Deal doubled their lead when an Andy Miller free kick from outside the box was struck low through a crowd of players and Eason got down to save at the far post, but he was only able to push the ball into the path of Wilson who found the net again from close range. James Tonkin had to be alert to gather the ball when a Harry Brown free kick bobbled around dangerously in the box. Deal were now causing plenty of problems with Jack Paxman and Harry Alexander in particular having the freedom to run at the Whitstable defence on numerous occasions. Eason did well to save from Walsh as he got on the end of a good move and then another spell of pressure ended with a shot just off target. Paxman sent another low ball right across the box, but there was nobody there to apply the finish. The Whitstable management team had seen enough and Harrold was sacrificed for Williams as they reverted to a back four on 27 minutes. It did little to stem the tide initially however as Paxman pulled another ball back for Walsh, whose first time shot was well saved by Eason.

The game then went through a quiet period until a good run by Williams created a half chance for Freeman, but his shot was wide. Deal were well worth a two goal cushion as half time arrived and they might have had more goals.

Freeman won Whitstable an early corner once play restarted and Harry Brown swung a good ball to the far post where Cloke stooped to head it past Tonkin to give his team a way back into the match.

Craig Cloke stoops to head the Whitstable goal at the back post
The ball hits the back of the net

Shaun Welford was just crowded out on the edge of the box as he almost worked an opening and then Tom Bryant found Harry Brown and his cross was met by Welford, whose header was tipped over the bar by Tonkin. Treadwell got in front of Tonkin from a Freeman free kick, but could only send his header over the top. On 58 minutes Williams won a free kick on the right and as Harry Brown played the ball across the area, Welford saw his shot beat Tonkin but come back off the bar.

James Tonkin saves a Welford header
Shaun Welford hits the bar

At the other end, Paxman did make another good break down the right and got into the box, but the ball was cleared for a corner. Bryant was booked by the referee before having to limp off with a groin injury. A few minutes later Morrish also had to depart with a leg injury. There were by now quite a few stoppages with the referee taking time to speak to a number of players. Ashley Brown appeared to be first to the ball just outside his own box, but the referee thought otherwise, booking him and awarding a free kick to Deal, which was taken by Walsh whose shot was tipped over by Eason.

Dan Eason tips a Charlie Walsh free kick over the bar

Deal then made the first of their three substitutions before Welford flicked the ball on for Freeman and he found himself one on one with Tonkin, but the Deal goalkeeper was able to make a good save.

James Tonkin saves from Ricky Freeman

Deal substitute Connor Coyne shot wide after latching on to a right wing cross and then it was the turn of the Deal bench to vent their frustration as a free kick was given to Whitstable right in front of them, when it appeared the home player had been fouled. Smith was the third Whitstable player to be shown a card on 89 minutes. A good run and turn by Freeman ended with a shot over the bar and as Whitstable were about to take a corner in the sixth of the seven added minutes, the referee called a halt to proceedings and a largely disappointing night for the visitors was over. Whitstable had shown plenty of determination in the second half and might have rescued something from the game, but Deal deserved the points for their first half performance.

Deal Whitstable
13 Attempts 12
6 On Target 7
2 Corners 7
1 Offside 1
18 Free Kicks Won 12

Deal Town
James Tonkin, Jack Paxman, Harry Alexander (Dean Hill 90+3), Liam Hark, Kane Smith, Lee Scott, Luke Bigginton, Steve Butcher (c), Charlie Walsh, Sam Wilson (Joe Reeves 84), Andy Miller (Connor Coyne 80).
Subs (unused): Ryan Philpott, Dan Adams.
Goals: Sam Wilson 5, 15.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Stuart West, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant (Charlie Smith 66), Nick Treadwell, James Morrish (Louis Sprosen 70), Ricky Freeman, Shaun Welford, Carl Harrold (Danny Williams 27).
Subs (unused): Jack West, Harris Rodgers.
Goal: Craig Cloke 47
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 63, Ashley Brown 77, Charlie Smith 89.

Attendance: 134
Referee: Simon Cutler
Assistants: Chris Spalding & Paul Franks