CHATHAM TOWN 1 WHITSTABLE TOWN 3
SCEFL Premier Division
Tuesday November 14 2017 19.45
Whitstable put in one of their best performances of the season to return from Chatham with a fully deserved three points. It was in stark contrast to the very poor display when their opponents won 1-0 at the Belmont in the reverse fixture just over five weeks ago. The team worked hard from the start in a disciplined display, restricting Chatham to very few opportunities and notably, not even conceding a free kick for the first 25 minutes. Dan Eason had to make one good save from Justin Ascheri, after Charlie Smith had headed Whitstable in front on 19 minutes, getting on the end of a great cross. The home side did equalise early in the second half, when Danny Smith whipped a ball in from the left that appeared to be deflected past Eason, but Stuart West headed Whitstable back in front from a free kick almost immediately. Danny Williams set up Smith, who finished well into the far corner, to make the game safe towards the end.
Stuart West returned after suspension to the Whitstable defence alongside Rob Gillman and Tom Bryant, replacing Ashley Brown who has now left the club, with everyone’s best wishes, to join the armed forces. Recent signing John Walker started his first game and Chris Saunders, who was cup tied in the FA Vase, returned to the midfield in place of dual registration signing Tijan Jadama, who was in the Ramsgate team for the evening. Chatham have improved their squad since they appointed former Cray Valley manager James Collins, but are still in the bottom three and in need of some points to climb the table.
Smith had an early shot for Whitstable deflected over for a corner, before Chatham won three corners of their own in quick succession – they were in fact their only corners of the match. Smith caused problems for the home defence throughout and had a couple of efforts blocked before Whitstable took the lead with a very well worked goal. Walker was up supporting the attack and played a clever flick out to James Morrish on the right and he delivered the perfect cross for Smith, who was first to the ball and thumped his header down into the right hand corner of the net.
Both Whitstable wing backs had good games and Josh Burchell sent over a good ball that was just tipped away by Ryan Nicholls. Williams was then pulled down on the edge of the box, but Murray was unable to find the target from the free kick. Whitstable had successfully prevented their opponents getting any meaningful possession, but Eason had to come to their rescue on 29 minutes when a long ball from Billy Brown reached Ascheri on the right and he broke into the penalty area and struck a good low shot that was just kept out by the advancing goalkeeper. Shortly afterwards Danny Grant made a dangerous run forward, but was eventually crowded out.
Williams had a shot blocked at the other end and then a free kick was helped on by Smith to Williams and he hooked a left footed shot over the bar from close range when it might have been easier to have tried a header. The hard working Williams then just failed to connect with another good ball across the goal area. Chatham had a couple of sights of goal as half time approached. Grant, one of their better players on the night, got himself into a good position before testing Eason with a low strike from well outside the box and Taylor McDonagh also tried his luck from distance, but he sent the ball wide of the far post.
Trailing by the one goal when it might have been more, the Chatham manager made two substitutions at half time, reorganising and bringing on Grant Brown and Michael Hagan for Freeman Rogers and Justin Ascheri. A bit of early head tennis in the Chatham box failed to create an opening, but then Saunders was very unlucky to be shown a yellow card by the otherwise excellent referee. On 54 minutes though Chatham were level when Danny Smith collected a pass from Russell Bedford out on the left and did well to send over a dangerous cross from a narrow angle. The ball somehow ended up in the net and although it looked as though someone might have got a touch, the goal was credited to Smith. If Whitstable were stunned by that setback, they need not have worried as they were back in front within a couple of minutes. Macauley Murray took a free kick out on the left and Stuart West rose to send a firm header into the roof of the net from around 8 yards.
There was a lengthy delay on 65 minutes when Eason went down as he was challenged by Jesse Darko and stayed on the ground for a few minutes. He was eventually able to continue, so academy goalkeeper Ryan Birch was not called into action. Whitstable spent the next few minutes on the attack, but were unable to test Nicholls. Saunders made a poor challenge on Jamie Miller that might have brought him a second yellow card, although the referee instead spoke to the player and his captain and he was then substituted, with Louis Sprosen coming on to replace him. Whitstable scored a third on 82 minutes to virtually wrap up the points. Williams robbed a hesitant Laurence Collins inside his own half and broke down the right before playing the ball to Smith at the near post and he kept his composure to turn and find the bottom corner just inside the far post from a tight angle.
Both captains were then substituted as Chatham replaced Bedford with Michael Habte and Jack West came on for Morrish. Sprosen fed Williams who ran at the home defence before seeing his shot caught by Nicholls. Chatham won a late free kick when Jack West was booked for bringing down Billy Brown outside the box, but Eason comfortably saved the effort by Grant Brown. With seven minutes of added time, there was a chance of a debut for Rhys Brain who took the place of Williams for the final moments, but there was no further goalmouth action and Whitstable ran out 3-1 winners.
Next up is a Saturday trip to Tunbridge Wells, followed by a visit to the Belmont by league newcomers Rusthall three days later.
|10||Free Kicks Won||12|
Ryan Nicholls, Danny Grant, Danny Smith, Russell Bedford (c) (Michael Habte 83), Freeman Rogers (Grant Brown 46), Laurence Collins, Jamie Miller, Taylor McDonagh, Jesse Darko, Billy Brown, Justin Ascheri (Michael Hagan 46).
Subs (unused): Josh Bray, Kyron Lightfoot.
Goals: Danny Smith 54
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Rob Gillman, Stuart West, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders (Louis Sprosen 77), James Morrish (c) (Jack West 83), Danny Williams (Rhys Brain 90+4), Charlie Smith, Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Ryan Birch.
Goals: Charlie Smith 19, 82, Stuart West 56.
Yellow cards: Chris Saunders 49, Jack West 90+2.
Referee: Jordan Whitworth
Assistants: Matthew Sell & Harry Graham