WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 PHOENIX SPORTS 1
Bostik League South East
Saturday April 13 2019 15.00
Whitstable completed the league double over their opponents in an entertaining game at a bright and breezy Belmont Ground. Whitstable started well and almost took the lead from a long Connor Sanders throw, although Zak Bryon and Jeff Duah-Kessie both put good chances wide for the visitors. Ricky Freeman opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Miles Cornwell had been fouled. Phoenix improved in the second half and Solomon Taiwo equalised at the back post following a right wing cross. They continued to threaten and Dan Eason had to make a couple of saves to prevent his team falling behind, while Steve Phillips somehow managed to keep out a low strike by Stephen Smith at the other end. It was Whitstable that eventually claimed all three points, when Sanders fired home the winner in the 90th minute.
Tenth played ninth in this game and both teams were already set for a respectable finish with just four games remaining. When they met at the Mayplace Ground back in mid-September, two Freeman goals had given Whitstable the points in a confident display. Stuart West has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and Harry Stannard started on the bench, trying to shake off a niggling injury. Phoenix named an unchanged team after beating East Grinstead 5-1 in their previous game.
Whitstable spent the early stages of the game on the attack and the ball was frequently in the Phoenix penalty area from several free kicks, corners and long throws, but the closest they came to taking the lead was from a Sanders throw in the 11th minute, when the ball almost found its way into the net through a congested box. Home goalkeeper Eason was first called into action with a routine stop from Duah-Kessie on 15 minutes. After Phillips had saved a Smith shot, Kenny Aileru made a good run down the right, before sending over a low cross for Lee Bird, who miskicked the ball when well placed at the back post. Freeman had a couple of shots, as the home team continued to look the most likely to score, but a misdirected header left Bryon with a clear run at goal in the 24th minute, but he lashed the ball over the top with only Eason to beat. Jack Hopkins then set up Duah-Kessie, who controlled the ball well before slicing his shot badly wide. Freeman played the ball through to Cornwell, but his low shot lacked the power to beat Phillips.
The visitors were now asking a few more questions and a Duah-Kessie cross from the left was headed wide by Bryon at the back post when he might have done better. James Morrish made a surging run forward for Whitstable, before cutting inside and trying a low shot that Phillips saved comfortably. A good ball was then played forward, releasing Cornwell into the penalty area, where he went down under the challenge of the two covering defenders and the referee had no hesitation in awarding Whitstable a penalty. Freeman stepped forward to send Phillips the wrong way and give his team a 34th minute lead. The game was now going from end to end and Morrish made a great interception and found Smith, whose cross seemed to be pushed behind for a corner although the officials gave a goal kick, to the frustration of the home bench who were spoken to by the referee. Curiously, Whitstable did not concede a foul until the 43rd minute, but Phoenix then won two late corners, the first of which Ashley Probets almost curled in before the ball was scrambled away and Whitstable went in at half time leading 1-0.
Whitstable had to make a change at the start of the second half, with Harry Brown replacing Taylor Fisher. Smith began the half brightly and played a great cross field ball to Morrish, who strode forward before shooting over. Phoenix went in search of an equaliser though and after a period of pressure Duah-Kessie was given two chances to send over a cross from the right and from the second the ball reached Taiwo at the far post and he was able to squeeze the ball past Eason to level the scores. Duah-Kessie was starting to prove a handful and was denied by a last ditch tackle as he was about the shoot. Aileru then turned and shot from the edge of the box, but Eason touched the ball over the bar and the Whitstable goalkeeper then had to save a long shot from Bryon.
Smith and Freeman combined well at the other end and Smith hit a low shot through the legs of a defender, but Phillips just managed to get down and deflect the ball for a corner. John Walker replaced Tom Bryant in the home defence, before Rob Gillman headed a deep Brown corner over the top. Phoenix won several corners themselves, one of which almost gave them the lead as the in-swinger by Probets missed everyone before curling just past the far post. Bird shot wide after being picked out by Duah-Kessie, then substitute George Whitelock forced a good save from Eason. Smith saw his shot blocked when Morrish found him with a good pass, then Eason denied the dangerous Duah-Kessie once more. Whitstable won a free kick in the 90th minute and Brown curled the ball towards Smith, who did well to play it back for Sanders who found the top corner from 10 yards to put Whitstable in front again. In added time, Sanders found himself in the book for taking a throw from the wrong place and Smith had a shot deflected just past the post, but Whitstable had done enough to secure the win.
Whitstable move to within one point of their opponents, but remain in tenth place. Their last three games see two visits to Sussex to face East Grinstead and Three Bridges, with a home fixture against Hythe Town on Easter Monday sandwiched in between.
|14||Free Kicks Won||9|
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, Taylor Fisher (Harry Brown 46), Nick Treadwell, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant (John Walker 63), Connor Sanders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Harry Stannard 78), Stephen Smith, Miles Cornwell.
Sub (unused): James Trueman
Goals: Ricky Freeman pen 34, Connor Sanders 90.
Yellow card: Connor Sanders 90+1
Steve Phillips (c), Ryan Andrews, Ashley Probets, Jack Hopkins, Danny Young, Lewis Clarke, Lee Bird (George Whitelock 73), Solomon Taiwo, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Zak Bryon (Ryan Solan 81), Kenny Aileru.
Subs (unused): Oliver Andrews, Jack Barry, Andrew Dythe.
Goal: Solomon Taiwo 53
Yellow cards: Solomon Taiwo 14, Ryan Andrews 35, George Whitelock 81, Danny Young 90+2.
Referee: Peter Cruise
Assistants: Daniel Friar & Joseph Dann-Pye