Sevenoaks Equalise Late Again

Bostik League South East
Tuesday February 5 2019 19.45

For the second time this season, a Sevenoaks substitute scored in added time to earn a 1-1 draw after a Stephen Smith goal had given Whitstable the lead. After the weather had given them a weekend off, Whitstable, playing with a different formation that gave them more width, started in promising fashion. Despite seeing a lot of the ball in the Sevenoaks half, there were very few chances at either end in the first half, although Dan Eason was called upon to make one good save just before the break. A well worked goal gave Whitstable the lead just before the hour mark, when Smith fired home after being played in by Jordan Wright. Both teams went close with good crosses, although chances remained limited. Sevenoaks looked more threatening towards the end after both teams had made substitutions and Eason did well to save one effort by Tommy Whitnell at his near post. Substitute Ainsley Everett finally found a way through with a great low strike into the bottom corner in the first minute of stoppage time and a draw was probably the right result in the end.

The two teams promoted from the SCEFL Premier Division in the summer met for their second Bostik League fixture. The game at the Belmont had ended 1-1 back in September with Sevenoaks scoring in the 6th minute of added time, after Whitstable had earlier been reduced to ten men for much of the second half as a result of a red card for Chris Saunders. The referee was interestingly the same for both fixtures, as was the case for the two Faversham games. Whitstable started with a different formation, playing unusually a back four with Louis Sprosen and Taylor Fisher providing extra width in midfield. The hard working Smith played a lone role up front. Sevenoaks included recent signings Dan Parkinson from Sittingbourne, Tommy Whitnell, previously with Tonbridge Angels, Makhosini Ryan-Khanye, a left back who started as a youngster at Brentford and on loan Gillingham goalkeeper Louie Catherall.

It was Whitstable that started the better and they had the ball in the net in the opening minutes when John Walker found Sprosen, whose cross was helped on by Miles Cornwell to the back post, where Smith came in to put the ball into the net, but it was ruled out by an offside flag. The first real action at the other end came in the 9th minute, when Kenny Pogue had a shot deflected over for a corner. Whitstable attacked down the right again and when the ball reached Sprosen just outside the box, his shot was blocked by Tom Ripley and Wright dragged his shot past the post from the rebound. A good run by Ryan-Khanye created a chance for Frankie Sawyer, but his long shot was comfortably saved by Eason. A dangerous Walker cross was headed behind for a corner, but Whitstable could not get the delivery right.

Stephen Smith jumps with Tom Ripley
Louis Sprosen has a shot blocked

Alec Fiddes sent over a cross from the Sevenoaks left that was met by Ripley, but he could only give Eason some more catching practice. The home team then had a couple of corners that came to nothing, but they were given a chance by some sloppy play in midfield by Whitstable and the ball was knocked forward to Sawyer, but again Eason was able to gather at the second attempt. Just before the break, it was Sawyer who set up Fiddes and he forced Eason to dive to his right to turn the ball around the post. The Whitstable supporters who had made the trip were relatively happy with their team’s performance in the first half, which had been an improvement after some below par games. Despite playing the ball around quite well at times however, the home goalkeeper had not really been tested, so 0-0 was no great surprise as the team left the pitch.

Jack Miles clears the ball
Dan Eason saves

In the 53rd minute Smith did well to hold up the ball and play it into the path of Sprosen, but his shot flew over the bar. Stuart West then rose to meet a free kick, but there was no one there to take advantage when the ball dropped. Whitstable did eventually take the lead with a good goal on 59 minutes, as Cornwell found Wright who threaded a neat pass through for Smith and he clipped it over the advancing Catherall into the far corner. West did well to clear a Pogue cross at the back post and then after Wright was booked for catching an opponent as he stooped to head the ball, Ryan-Khanye curled in the free kick that was headed over by Jack Miles. Words were then exchanged between the referee and the Whitstable bench after they felt a foul had been missed, before Sevenoaks introduced Everett in place of Pogue. Ryan-Khanye curled his shot wide after receiving a cross from the right.

Stuart West challenges for the ball
Stephen Smith lifts the ball over Louie Catherall
The shot is on its way into the net
Whitstable celebrate taking the lead

Ricky Freeman came on in place of Smith, who had given his all for the cause. A great cross by Sprosen was headed just over his own bar by Osman Proni. Sevenoaks were gradually increasing the pressure, without really looking as though they were going to beat Eason, who made a smart block to deny Whitnell as he tried to finish a cross from the left. Sprosen and Freeman worked an opening for James Morrish, but the Whitstable captain shot just wide from 20 yards. Both managers made their second substitutions as the clock ticked down and a foul by Tom Bryant in a central position just outside the penalty area gave Everett a chance, but his free kick went straight into the defensive wall. He made up for it though just after the 90 minute mark, when Whitstable missed a chance to clear following a run by Ryan-Khanye and the ball was played to Everett who hit a dipping shot past Eason into the bottom right corner from 30 yards. There were few alarms in the remaining minutes and at 1-1, the points were shared.

Osman Proni heads a good Louis Sprosen cross just over his own goal
The Whitstable wall blocks this late free kick
Sevenoaks equalise in stoppage time

Whitstable have not managed a win since Boxing Day, but this was a better performance and some confidence can be taken into the next games, starting with a visit from Hastings on Saturday.

Sevenoaks Whitstable
10 Attempts 5
7 On Target 1
7 Corners 3
4 Offside 3
11 Free Kicks Won 12

Sevenoaks Town
Louie Catherall, Fraser Walker, Makhosini Ryan-Khanye, Dan Parkinson (Ryan Fowler 86), Tom Ripley (c), Jack Miles, Tommy Whitnell, Alec Fiddes, Kenny Pogue (Ainsley Everett 70), Frankie Sawyer, Osman Proni.
Subs (unused): Mikey Dalton, Josh Dorling, Luke Holness.
Goal: Ainsley Everett 90+1

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, James Trueman, Stuart West, Louis Sprosen (Tom Walmsley 83), Tom Bryant, Jordan Wright, James Morrish (c), Stephen Smith (Ricky Freeman 75), Miles Cornwell, Taylor Fisher.
Subs (unused): Charlie Smith, Michael Jenner, Rob Gillman.
Goal: Stephen Smith 59
Yellow cards: Stephen Smith 51, Jordan Wright 63, Tom Walmsley 86, Tom Bryant 89.

Attendance: 162
Referee: Kane Dempster
Assistants: Chris Price & David Lunani