Sprosen Scores Late Winner

SCEFL Premier Division
Monday August 28 2017 15.00

A late goal by Louis Sprosen decided this Bank Holiday encounter that started half an hour late due to traffic delays. Following an entertaining start to the game, visitors Sheppey United were reduced to ten men after 18 minutes when Remell Davis received a straight red card. Whitstable were denied on a number of occasions by goalkeeper Adam Highsted who pulled off a series of fine saves, whilst Dan Eason, in the home goal, only had one save to make. Sheppey did have the ball in the net on the stroke of half time, but the officials spotted it had been handled. Whitstable failed to make the most of their numerical advantage for much of the second half, playing too many hopeful long balls on a hot afternoon, but some late pressure finally brought the decisive goal when a free kick by Sprosen was missed by Highsted and the ball curled straight into the far corner of the net.

Whitstable made two changes to their starting eleven for this second fixture of the holiday weekend, with Danny Williams and Charlie Smith replacing Ricky Freeman and Shaun Welford. The visitors, who had beaten Chatham 7-1 two days earlier, only named their team a few minutes prior to the delayed start due to fitness doubts and as a result, Kwasi Amoah, Jon Ralph and Luke Harvey were missing from their team sheet. There were however four former Whitstable players in their team – Adam Highsted, Tom Brunt, Jack Mahoney and Luke Girt, who was utilised in an unfamiliar defensive position.

The game started in lively fashion with a Williams header gathered by Highsted, while at the other end Timmy Babbington lifted a shot over the bar after being played in by Dan Bradshaw. Williams then charged down an attempted clearance by Highsted and the ball rebounded just wide of the open goal. Whitstable went close from a couple of free kicks, with a Tom Bryant header being saved before a Harry Brown cross narrowly missed three red shirts waiting at the far post. The tricky Davis cut in from the right and worked himself an opening, but Eason was able to save his shot. That was to prove the last meaningful action for the Sheppey forward, as shortly afterwards he was dismissed for striking a home player and eventually escorted off the pitch following a few heated exchanges. George Batten was booked a few minutes later by the referee. On 27 minutes, Williams struck a powerful shot from outside the box that Highsted did well to turn around the post for a corner and when the ball was played into the area, it was volleyed just wide by Craig Cloke. Harry Goodger did really well to bring a high ball under control, turn and shoot, but again Highsted made the save. From the resulting corner, Whitstable were twice denied with close range efforts being blocked.

Danny Williams hits a good shot from outside the box
Craig Cloke is just off target
Adam Highsted denies Harry Goodger

Trey Williams won Sheppey their only corner of the first half on 35 minutes, but the ball in by Mahoney was headed over the top by Rob Saunders. Harry Brown put the last Whitstable chance before the break wide after running onto a ball played across the box and then the injured James Morrish had to be replaced by Nick Treadwell. The final action of the half took place at the other end when a great Brunt cross from the right was put into the net at the far post by Bradshaw, but a hand was used and the celebrations were cut short as the effort was ruled out and a yellow card shown.

At the start of the second half another smart shot on the turn by Goodger was well saved low down by Highsted. Bryant then created a chance for Williams, but Sheppey captain Saunders did really well to avert the danger. A good pass by Sprosen allowed Williams to sprint clear of the defence, but Highsted pulled off a great save low to his right.

Highsted saves from Williams again

Bryant was shown a yellow card for a midfield challenge before Whitstable brought on Freeman and Welford for Goodger and Smith after 61 minutes. The next period of the game saw Whitstable generally pushing forward and there were several corners and free kicks that the Sheppey defence handled with few alarms and the frustration grew as balls were often knocked forward too hastily, giving the ten men the chance to regain possession. Sheppey rarely threatened apart from one corner and a free kick that Mahoney struck wide after Stuart West had been booked for a foul. The Whitstable pressure grew though as the game entered the final ten minutes, but Highsted continued to deal with any balls into the box. On 84 minutes a Harry Brown corner was met at the far post by Treadwell and Highsted made a great reaction save to keep it out and loud appeals for handball were waved away after the corner was sent into the box. Just afterwards Whitstable won a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area, which substitute Hicham Akhazzan was subsequently booked for disputing, and Sprosen curled the ball into the crowded box where it was missed by everyone and found the far corner. It was unfortunate for Highsted, who had looked like earning his team a point, but relief for Whitstable.

The free kick by Louis Sprosen flies past everyone into the net

There was still time for Highsted to deny Welford with another save after Sprosen had won the ball and played him in. Sheppey tried to respond and a late cross went right across the home box, but nobody was able to apply the finishing touch and Whitstable had their third league win.

Shaun Welford is denied by Highsted

The next game for Whitstable is a rearranged trip to Bearsted, as scheduled opponents Erith Town have an FA Cup tie against Burgess Hill.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Stuart West, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Louis Sprosen, James Morrish (Nick Treadwell 45), Danny Williams, Harry Goodger (Shaun Welford 61), Charlie Smith (Ricky Freeman 61).
Subs (unused): Jack West, Carl Harrold.
Goal: Louis Sprosen 85
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 58, Stuart West 78.

Sheppey United
Adam Highsted, Tom Brunt, Darren Cooper, Luke Girt, Rob Saunders (c), Timmy Babbington (Hicham Akhazzan 83), George Batten, Dan Bradshaw, Remell Davis, Trey Williams, Jack Mahoney.
Subs (unused): Tom Montgomery, Josh Spencer.
Yellow cards: George Batten 23, Dan Bradshaw 45+3, Hicham Akhazzan 86.
Red card: Remell Davis 18

Attendance: 225
Referee: Zoltan Konkoly
Assistants: Matthew Sell & Matt McCaughan