WHITSTABLE TOWN 7 ASHFORD FC 1
Saturday July 21 2018 15.00
Whitstable completed a comfortable win against Kent County League opposition, scoring five second half goals as their spirited opponents tired in the heat. Ashford did take an early lead with a spectacular long range effort, but goals by Ricky Freeman and Stuart West gave the home team a 2-1 lead at half time. James Morrish had an early second half penalty saved by Danny Regan, but substitutes Nathan Hardwick and Kyran Connolly both scored to put Whitstable in control by the hour mark. Morrish, Chris Saunders and West added further goals and there were a few other opportunities missed. Ashford never gave up though and created a few chances of their own, with one late header bringing an incredible save by Whitstable goalkeeper Dan Eason.
Whitstable made a few changes to their team from the previous game, with player availability always a challenge during the pre-season summer holiday period. Ashford FC finished last season in mid table in the Kent County League Division Two Central and East and play at the Pound Leas Sports Field in Hamstreet.
Whitstable had a couple of early half chances, but were then stunned on 7 minutes, when Jordan Griffin sent the ball in from the right hand side of the pitch and it sailed over the head of Eason and into the net. Brett Ince almost levelled a few minutes later when his powerful shot crashed on to the bar and out, but shortly afterwards a Dan Stubbs cross was headed home by an unmarked Freeman at the far post. Robbie Dolan shot over from just inside the box for the visitors just before a much needed drinks break. When play resumed, it was Whitstable who went ahead on 30 minutes, when a long throw by Chris Elliott was forced in at the back post by West. The home team were beginning to create a number of chances and after a good run by Jordan Wright, Morrish shot just over, then a poor back pass left Freeman clear, but after going past the keeper his shot was blocked by a covering defender. Connolly lifted an effort over the bar and Elliott curled a free kick wide before the teams went in at half time with the score 2-1.
An early glancing header was pushed behind for a corner and Matt Burdon tried his luck from distance as Ashford began the second period brightly. Whitstable were soon in control however and Ince was fouled in the box, only for Morrish to see Regan get down to his right to save his penalty. Both teams made changes and on 55 minutes it was one Whitstable substitute Hardwick who finished a good move involving Wright and Freeman. It was soon 4-1 when a James Webb cross found Freeman and although his shot was blocked, the ball came out to Connolly and he produced a lovely finish into the top corner from the edge of the box. Whitstable scored again on 67 minutes when Hardwick won a corner on the left from which West had a shot cleared off the line and Morrish fired the rebound into the roof of the net.
After a final pause for drinks, Freeman tried an acrobatic effort whilst lying on the ground, but Regan kept it out. On 74 minutes though, Hardwick played the ball in low from the right and Saunders cleverly flicked it in at the near post for the sixth goal. He nearly got another when his shot was saved after a pull back by Webb. Saunders and Webb both had further opportunities, before a tiring Ashford managed to carve out a couple of late chances for themselves, with their number seventeen going close of both occasions. Firstly he shot over after a free kick fell nicely to him in the box, but then Eason had to pull off one of the best saves seen at the Belmont to deny him. A good move saw a cross from the left wing met by a firm header back towards the top corner, but somehow the Whitstable goalkeeper managed to change direction and push the ball away from under the bar. It was to be the home team that had the final say though, when a corner was cleared as far as Wright, who rolled the ball to West and he curled it neatly into the far corner to complete the scoring.
Next up for the two teams are home Tuesday night fixtures, with Whitstable entertaining Lydd Town and Ashford hosting New Romney, as pre-season continues.
|10||Free Kicks Won||5|
Dan Eason, Dan Stubbs (Kyran Connolly 24), Josh Burchell (Josh Spencer 68), Rob Gillman, Teddy Nelson (James Webb 52), Stuart West, Chris Elliott (Chris Saunders 52), James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Rhys Brain 80), Brett Ince (Nathan Hardwick 52), Jordan Wright.
Subs (unused): None
Goals: Ricky Freeman 15, Stuart West 30, 88, Nathan Hardwick 55, Kyran Connolly 59, James Morrish 67, Chris Saunders 74.
Danny Regan, George Argar, Matt Burdon, Craig Norman, Liam Sheldon Smith, Stephen Cowell, Craig Haynes, Robbie Dolan, Ryan Norman, Jordan Griffin, Casper Floyd.
Subs: Names not provided.
Goal: Jordan Griffin 7
Referee: Ollie Butcher
Assistants: Luke Sidaway & Lou Saunders