Poor Game Ends All Square

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday February 25 2017 15.00

Whitstable managed their first draw of the season in a game largely devoid of quality with very few chances at either end. The home side showed plenty of promise in the first few minutes as they looked to continue their winning run, but it was short lived. Despite the blustery conditions, the ball spent most of the time in the air resulting in numerous misplaced passes. There were a number of fouls but the delivery from most of the free kicks, and indeed the few corners won, was not of sufficient quality to cause problems and the goalkeepers were rarely troubled before the break. The second half was little better, although the deadlock was broken on 57 minutes as Tunbridge Wells were awarded a soft penalty that was converted by Jamie Lawrence. Aaron Quain missed the best chance of the game, shooting just wide of the far post after a missed header left him clear. The game became increasingly niggly, but Charlie Smith finished a good move to equalise on 85 minutes. Whitstable then started to knock the ball around with increased confidence and urgency, but could not find a winner.

Tom Bryant returned to the Whitstable starting line-up against his old club with Bola Dawodu and Harris Rodgers both away. Calvin Sedenu came in at the back in place of the unavailable Joe Kennett. Tunbridge Wells are struggling at the wrong end of the table and their starting eleven contained five players that did not feature in their 1-0 win when the two sides met back on 5 November.

The referee was soon into the action as a very poor challenge on Sedenu saw Jamie Lawrence collect a yellow card in the first minute. Whitstable applied some early pressure as James Morrish played Kane Rowland in, but his effort was blocked and then Quain won a corner after combining with Smith, but the delivery was too deep. On 6 minutes the visitors sent over a cross from the right that Connor Hood cleared just past his own post. The game then saw Whitstable pushed back for a spell, but Dan Eason was not really tested. Quain was booked for a foul on the halfway line and then Jon Pilbeam caught Bryant with an elbow, but escaped with a yellow card. Chances were hard to come by as the ball was launched backwards and forwards with little accuracy, but on 33 minutes Eason failed to catch a free kick and the ball had to be scrambled clear and then shortly afterwards Kane Rowland broke well down the left and saw his shot deflected for a corner that Hood curled straight behind. Hood then set up Quain for a cross that was blocked for another corner, but it was easily cut out at the near post. There was a bit of late pressure from the visitors, but the half time whistle was greeted with some relief as the crowd hoped for better after the interval.

Quain struck a free kick into the wall following a foul on Smith soon after the restart, then a Smith attempt from a narrow angle was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Steve Lawrence. Rowland then played the ball into the box where Morrish had an effort deflected for a corner.

James Morrish sees this effort deflected for a corner

Tunbridge Wells were given a penalty as they broke from the left and Sedenu then Ashley Brown both made challenges in the box and the referee decided that sufficient contact had been made and Jamie Lawrence lifted the ball into the roof of the net from the spot. This was the first league goal that Whitstable had conceded since 17 December at Rochester.

Jamie Lawrence scores from the spot

A good pass by Quain created a chance for Smith whose shot was saved and the resulting corner was headed into the hands of Lawrence. On 62 minutes Ashley Brown went off with an injury that could keep him out for several weeks and he was replaced by Craig Thompson, with Ollie Lee dropping back into defence. A cross from the right was missed by the covering defender with the ball dropping nicely for Quain, who took time to line up his shot only to see it go wide of the far post. On 72 minutes Tunbridge Wells almost had a chance to double their lead as Sedenu failed to cut out a through ball, but Eason was able to collect. Bryant then went down following a head to head with substitute Callum Smith, who was shown a yellow card. Morrish was not able to get enough power in his shot to trouble the goalkeeper after a ball in from the right. With time running out though Whitstable struck as Smith released Quain on the left and he played a good ball back into the box where Smith fired it past Lawrence.

Charlie Smith fires past Steve Lawrence
Relief all round as the scores are level
Man of the match Rob Gillman

This seemed to inspire the home side and they suddenly believed the win was on. Lee made a couple of surging runs forward, Rowland turned and shot just wide and then after a good move Hood sent in a cross that was caught by Lawrence. There was a corner for the visitors in stoppage time that was too short and the final action was a Quain free kick from the centre circle that was easily gathered by Lawrence.

So it was the first draw of the season for Whitstable and a disappointing performance after a long winning run. Hopefully a visit to leaders Crowborough next week for the first game between the two teams this season will inspire something better.


Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain, Ashley Brown (Craig Thompson 62), Rob Gillman (c), Calvin Sedenu, James Morrish, Tom Bryant, Kane Rowland, Charlie Smith, Ollie Lee.
Subs (unused): Harry Brown, Jack Mahoney, Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Goal: Charlie Smith 85
Yellow card: Aaron Quain 17

Tunbridge Wells
Steve Lawrence, Luke Hackett, Kieron Tarbie, Jamie Lawrence, Brad Potter (c), Perry Spackman, Jon Pilbeam (Luke Carpenter 90+2), Paul Butler, James Pinnock (Callum Smith 67), Ryan Crandley, John Shea.
Subs (unused): Tom Mackelden, Alfie Hall.
Goal: Jamie Lawrence (pen) 57
Yellow cards: Jamie Lawrence 1, Jon Pilbeam 25, Callum Smith 77.

Attendance: 150
Referee: Daniel Procter
Assistants: Nick Derrane & Matthew Sell