WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 CRAY VALLEY PM 2
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday December 16 2017 15.00
Cray Valley continued their recent good form and left the Belmont with all three points after coming from behind in a hard fought encounter. Whitstable started slowly and were second best for the majority of the first half, but went in front just before the interval when the Cray Valley defence failed to deal with a ball into their box and Stuart West was on hand to score. The second half was a much more even affair, although chances were limited despite both teams having good spells of possession. Much travelled striker Kevin Lisbie equalised with a good near post finish and Joe N’Guessan added a second after Lisbie had made a run from midfield. West shot wide when well placed and Whitstable had a couple of good penalty shouts turned down, but failed to really test visiting goalkeeper Andy Walker, as Cray Valley held on for the win.
Whitstable boss Scott Porter, who was due to collect the SCEFL November Manager of the Month award, was unwell and not able to be at the match, so Brendon Cass took over the role for the afternoon. Josh Burchell and Ricky Freeman returned from suspension, but Danny Williams was serving his one game ban. Cray Valley had a poor run earlier in the season after parting company with their previous manager, but Kevin Watson has now assembled a side containing some experienced players and the results have improved greatly. Recent additions include Lisbie, who scored a Premier League hat trick for Charlton in a 3-2 win against Liverpool in 2003 and fellow striker N’Guessan has featured for a number of clubs including Stevenage, Aldershot and Maidstone. Jamie Day can list amongst his former clubs, Bournemouth, Dover and Welling, where he also had a successful spell as player manager, whilst goalkeeper Andy Walker’s previous teams include Colchester, Exeter, Tonbridge, Maidstone and Cray Wanderers.
The visitors started brightly, winning an early corner before Ben Francis shot tamely at Dan Eason. It was 5 minutes before Whitstable had a sight of goal, when West almost got on the end of a cross following a build-up down the right. On 13 minutes, Lisbie had a shot deflected for a corner and then thought he was through on goal just afterwards, only to be denied by an offside flag. Whitstable won a couple of corners, but in between Francis broke away for Cray Valley and his pull back was fired over the bar by Connor Dobson.
Whitstable had to make a change after 27 minutes, with John Walker replacing Burchell. Cray continued to press and a Ryan Flack cross picked out Francis, whose low shot was easily gathered by Eason. Freeman shot well wide from distance in the 30th minute and that was the first goal attempt by the home side. Francis and Day set up N’Guessan, but he skied his shot from 12 yards. West collected the only yellow card of the game for protesting too much about some of the officiating, prior to being chopped down himself on the right touchline, but the free kick failed to trouble the Cray Valley defence. Flack set off on a long run that took him into the penalty area, where he made room for a shot that was turned past the post for a corner by Eason and Josh James headed a left wing cross over the top. Just as the first half was drawing to a close, Louis Sprosen sent the ball in from the right and it was played back across goal at the far post by Walker. Dobson and his fellow defenders failed to clear and the ball dropped nicely for West to fire past Walker to give Whitstable a somewhat unexpected lead at the break.
West nearly got into a shooting position from the restart, before Sprosen needed treatment after a challenge by Matt Parsons. Freeman nipped in front of Walker, who appeared to bring him down just inside the box, but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty. On 55 minutes Cray Valley were level when Francis did well on the left and crossed low to the near post, where Lisbie reacted the quickest to slam the ball into the roof of the net.
Walker sent over a cross that almost found the top corner and then a great pass by Sprosen sent West clear, but his shot was off target as Walker came out to narrow the angle. The game was now quite open and Eason did well to parry a shot by N’Guessan, with Francis having his follow up attempt blocked. N’Guessan tried another shot from long range that went over the bar and a Macauley Murray free kick failed to trouble Walker. In the 66th minute, the home side felt they should have had another penalty for a handball, but a goal kick was awarded after the ball was deflected behind.
Whitstable introduced Charlie Smith for Freeman, but it was Cray Valley who added a second goal after 72 minutes, when a Lisbie run saw the ball knocked into the path of N’Guessan and despite suggestions of handball, he was able to find the right hand corner. A good sequence of passing earned Whitstable a corner that led to another loud shout for handball, but a corner was the outcome and that ended safely in the hands of Walker. A further home attack saw the ball pulled back to Murray, who shot powerfully wide.
Lisbie and Flack caused a few more problems for the Whitstable defence from the right and Eason had to get down to make a save and then some good play created a chance for Flack who shot over. It was his last involvement before being replaced by Alex Nelson. Cray Valley were now looking to run the clock down and the referee asked Walker to speed things up on a couple of occasions. A Murray free kick was headed just over by West and the visitors made another change on 90 minutes with Jordan Sandiford replacing goal scorer N’Guessan. In stoppage time Smith tried a long shot that was the only Whitstable shot on target of the half, but it was comfortably saved by Walker and the final whistle blew just afterwards.
Whitstable may feel a bit unfortunate that a few decisions failed to go their way, but overall it was a fair result on the number of chances created. Whitstable had some good spells of possession in the second half, but just did not test the goalkeeper, with balls into the box being generally too close to him and shots failing to hit the target. Crowborough visit the Belmont for the last home game before Christmas and that will be another stern test as Whitstable attempt to stay in the title race.
|9||Free Kicks Won||17|
Dan Eason, Louis Sprosen, Josh Burchell (John Walker 27), Rob Gillman, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish, Ricky Freeman (Charlie Smith 71), Stuart West, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Teddy Nelson, Owen Fitt, Rhys Brain.
Goal: Stuart West 45+2
Yellow card: Stuart West 33
Cray Valley PM
Andy Walker, Connor Dobson, Matt Parsons (c), Jamie Day, Cem Tumkaya, Jack White, Ryan Flack (Alex Nelson 85), Josh James, Ben Francis, Kevin Lisbie, Joe N’Guessan (Jordan Sandiford 90).
Subs (unused): Junior James, Tommy Osbourne.
Goals: Kevin Lisbie 55, Joe N’Guessan 72.
Referee: Joseph Dann-Pye
Assistants: Mark Cheeseman & Michael Kent