WHITSTABLE TOWN 7 CROYDON 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday March 25 2017 15.00
Whitstable recorded their biggest win of the season, scoring seven without reply, against a Croydon team that had stunned title chasing Crowborough just four days earlier. Perhaps their efforts in achieving that win might go some way to explaining a rather lacklustre performance at the Belmont, as they had also held Whitstable to a creditable 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the month. They got off to a poor start when Kane Rowland scored an early goal from a corner and then Frankie Sawyer went on to claim a first half hat-trick. Croydon had a great opportunity to pull one back when they were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half time, but Kamelko Pope-Campbell saw his effort come back off the post. After the interval Rowland put away the rebound after Francis Ameyaw had parried a fierce drive from Aaron Quain and two late goals from substitute Newman Poku completed the scoring. Dan Eason in the home goal saw little action to warm him up on a very chilly, breezy afternoon on the Kent coast.
With the second leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final scheduled for Tuesday, this was potentially a tricky game for Whitstable who were still without a number of players, although the return of the captain Rob Gillman was a boost. Declan Kirk and Dan Smith started on the bench, having been promoted from the B team. The game was only 5 minutes old when Croydon failed to clear a Quain corner and Rowland was on hand to score at the near post.
It was nearly two just afterwards when some good play down the right released Connor Hood and he got into the box and pulled the ball back to Sawyer on the six yard line, but he lifted the ball way over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
He was soon to make up for the early miss though, scoring three times before the break. On 15 minutes Rowland collected the ball just outside the box and tried a shot that went low into a crowd of players, but deflected perfectly into the path of Sawyer who knocked it past Ameyaw into the far corner. On 32 minutes a poor back pass by Oscar Hall sold his goalkeeper short and the alert Sawyer nipped in, rounded Ameyaw and fired the ball into the unguarded net. The hat-trick was completed on 41 minutes when Craig Thompson played a nice pass through to Sawyer who shot past Ameyaw to make it 4-0.
In between the goals there were a few other chances for the dominant home side. Thompson had a couple of goal attempts and Ollie Lee shot wide after breaking into the box. Rowland was thwarted by Ameyaw after some good work by Sawyer and Thompson. Croydon had offered little by way of an attacking threat and won their only corner of the game on 39 minutes – Whitstable had eleven. The final piece of first half action though did give the visitors a great opportunity to get on the scoresheet. Harry Brockman sent the ball across from the left and Pope-Campbell went down as he battled for the ball by the goal line with Gillman and Quain. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty so Pope-Campbell stepped up and shot towards the bottom left corner, only to see the ball come back off the post where it was cleared away. Croydon were not to get a better chance.
Both teams made a change at half time, with Kirk coming on for his Whitstable debut in place of Calvin Sedenu and Wesley Bartlett replacing Hall for Croydon. Some early pressure from the home side almost got Sawyer and Rowland in again, then after another Quain corner Rowland had a shot blocked. On 59 minutes Quain was given too much space and hit a great left footed shot from way outside the box that Ameyaw did well to push away, only to see the ball fall into the path of Rowland who sent it back across goal into the far corner.
Both teams made further substitutions, allowing Dan Smith to make his first appearance for Whitstable and Noir Gordon came on for Croydon. The pattern of play was little changed though and Sawyer struck a free kick just over after Thompson was fouled just outside the box. Sawyer had another couple of shots saved before being applauded off the pitch and replaced by Poku. On 78 minutes a long throw into the area by Kirk was not dealt with by the Croydon defence and Poku was on hand at the near post to score with his first touch.
After Croydon had made their final substitution, Poku was to score again on 86 minutes. A ball forward by Gillman somehow found its way through everyone leaving him free to take the ball around the stranded keeper to make it seven.
Charlie Smith sent a late free kick into the wall and Thompson almost managed to add an eighth before the final whistle. It was one day at the seaside that Croydon will probably wish to forget. Whitstable won 7-0 at Sporting Bengal in the Kent League Cup in October 2006, but there were not many big wins in the Ryman League years. The next visitors to the Belmont on Tuesday are Sheppey United and hopefully a big crowd to see if Whitstable can make it through to the cup final.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain (Dan Smith 64), Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c), Calvin Sedenu (Declan Kirk 46), Charlie Smith, Ollie Lee, Kane Rowland, Frankie Sawyer (Newman Poku 77), Craig Thompson.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks.
Goals: Kane Rowland 5, 59, Frankie Sawyer 15, 32, 41, Newman Poku 78, 86.
Francis Ameyaw, Oscar Hall (Wesley Bartlett 46), Veejay Miller, Ibrahim Bah, Tolulope Jonah, Jamie McGeoghegan (c), Reiss Franklin (Cory Rose 78), Rohann Howell, Kamelko Pope-Campbell (Noir Gordon 60), Lauris Chin, Harry Brockman.
Sub (unused): Kenny Brockman
Referee: Jak Hill
Assistants: Brian Woodhouse & Paul Franks