CROYDON 0 WHITSTABLE TOWN 3
SCEFL Challenge Cup First Round
Wednesday October 12 2016 19.45
Whitstable won 3-0 at the Croydon Sports Arena to progress to the Second Round of the SCEFL Challenge Cup and a home tie against Kent Football United. After some early scares when the home side dominated the opening minutes, Whitstable opened up the Croydon defence in their first serious attack after 14 minutes with a good move finished by Kane Rowland. There were no further goals in the first half, although Croydon might have felt they had created enough chances to have been at least level. Whitstable were the better side after the break and Craig Thompson headed the second after 50 minutes, then hit the bar shortly afterwards. Rowland won a penalty and scored at the third attempt after his spot kick and initial follow up were both saved on 74 minutes. Croydon did have a good opportunity for a consolation towards the end, but Dan Eason saved a Karl Douglin penalty.
The Croydon Sports Arena has redevelopment work going on outside the ground and is currently a difficult place to access with no parking and a lengthy walk over uneven ground to reach the pitch which has an athletics track around the perimeter. With just 42 people in attendance the ground had a bleak feel about it on a showery night and the friendly group of dedicated people running the club must be hoping for the work to be completed soon. On the field, Whitstable manager Scott Porter had to cope with the unavailability of seven regular players and named just coach Brendon Cass and goalkeeper Harry Brooks as substitutes. Scott Punton returned after injury to play alongside Ashley Brown in the middle of the defence. Charlie Smith started in midfield and Craig Thompson played up front with Kane Rowland.
Croydon started well and Michael Craveiro shot just wide of the far post from the right of the penalty area after 4 minutes and they then won three corners that were well defended with one attempt being cleared off the line. Having been under pressure for most of the opening minutes, Rowland found himself well placed to on the halfway line, but he was chopped down by the last defender Tristan Toney as he tried to break clear. Then a slick passing move involving Harris Rodgers, Connor Hood, Rowland and Smith ended with Rowland placing the ball past Francis Ameyaw to give Whitstable the lead. Thompson and Ollie Lee both had sight of goal as the half progressed, but could not add to the score. The home team continued to create chances. Dan Eason punched a deep cross high in the air and after the scramble that followed the ball was eventually fired just wide by Chan Quan. Jeff Duah-Kessie twice worked openings down the right and sent the ball flashing across the box with no one able to get on the end it. Andy Mott shot straight at Eason after good play down the left by Karl Douglin, who later wriggled clear of the defence and saw his shot tipped over by the Whitstable keeper. Craveiro ran through but his shot was also wide and half time came with the score at 0-1.
Despite Croydon having a lot of the ball in the first half, Whitstable had worked hard all over the pitch, improving as the game progressed and after the break played with more control. The defence were getting to the ball first, the shape across midfield was good, Thompson and Rowland linked up effectively and the team did the basic things well. Whitstable did get the ball into the net early in the half although the whistle had already blown for a foul, but after 50 minutes a Dane Luchford cross was met by a glancing header from Thompson to double the lead. Just afterwards, Luchford got through on the left and after Ameyaw had blocked the shot the ball fell invitingly in the box; Thompson got there first, but smacked his shot against the underside of the bar and out.
After a couple of Croydon corners, a good long pass found Rowland who was fouled by the keeper as he chipped it over him and a penalty was awarded with Ameyaw receiving a yellow card. Rowland saw his kick saved, as was his next effort after he was first to the rebound, but he then managed to bundle the ball over the line for his second goal of the night on 74 minutes. With 81 minutes gone, Croydon won a penalty themselves as Duah-Kessie got clear and squared the ball, but Lee brought down his opponent just as he was about to shoot and was shown a yellow card. Eason saved the penalty taken by Douglin, pushing it to safety. There was time for Whitstable to make two changes: Cass came on for Harry Brown and goalkeeper Brooks was used as an outfield player for the last few minutes. The 3-0 final score was comfortable enough in the end, with a home tie awaiting in the next round.
The Whitstable management team will be happy with the performance and result, having given some other squad members valuable time on the pitch and now have some thinking to do to select the team for the next match.
Francis Ameyaw, Ben Seymour, Wesley Bartlett (Harry Bugden 68), Michael Craveiro, Tristan Toney (Rohann Howell 75), Cedric Abraham, Chan Quan (Max Rothwell 62), Andy Mott, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Karl Douglin, Lauris Chin.
Subs (unused): Jason Wyatt, Danny Carpanini.
Yellow cards: Francis Ameyaw 74, Harry Bugden 90+3.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown (Brendon Cass 83), Ashley Brown, Scott Punton, Ollie Lee (Harry Brooks 89), Dane Luchford, Charlie Smith, Kane Rowland, Craig Thompson, Harris Rodgers.
Subs (unused): None
Goals: Kane Rowland 14, 74, Craig Thompson 50.
Yellow cards: Scott Punton 67, Ollie Lee 81.
Referee: Jordan Whitworth
Assistants: Matt Charles & Thomas McCourt