Ten Man Town Battle Through

SCEFL Challenge Cup Third Round
Tuesday January 10 2017 19.45

Whitstable showed real determination to win a place in the quarter finals of the competition, playing with ten men for around 60 minutes after Charlie Smith was sent off for receiving two yellow cards. Ashley Brown and Craig Thompson both had to limp off with injuries forcing the only two fit substitutes, coach Brendon Cass and goalkeeper Harry Brooks, to play in midfield for a substantial part of the match. Corinthian had the better of a first half full of incident, cards and some controversy. It was Whitstable though who got the decisive goal just before the break as Aaron Quain lifted a free kick over goalkeeper Joseph Hagan. Whitstable were much better in the second half and defended superbly to protect their advantage. In total the home team won eleven corners and conceded just one, but they failed to create many clear chances. When they did get a sight of goal Dan Eason was on hand to deny them, making a few good saves to ensure another clean sheet.

The squad was missing several regulars for this evening cup tie at Gay Dawn Farm against a Corinthian team that had travelled to Devon three days earlier, when their FA Vase campaign ended at Exmouth Town. The playing surface was good and the home side started brightly winning two early corners. From the second, when the ball arrived at the far post there appeared to be some holding and the Corinthian players and bench were incensed that no penalty was given. On 10 minutes a through ball sent Louis Clarke clear but Eason was quickly out to prevent the danger. The game was only 19 minutes old when Ashley Brown had to go off with a leg injury to be replaced by Cass, who went into the middle as the team reshuffled with Calvin Sedenu, Tom Bryant and Ollie Lee playing at the back and Connor Hood and Quain out wide.

The remainder of the half became very disjointed with plenty of free kicks, cards, stoppages and discussion. Corinthian had the better possession, but rarely looked like scoring. Two of their players were shown yellow cards on 25 minutes after the referee blew for a foul in the middle of the pitch. A few minutes later Smith slid in with a late challenge after the ball had gone out for a throw and was shown a yellow card, despite suggestions from the home bench that it should have been red. He soon collected a second yellow however for complaining after a foul had been awarded against Sedenu and the team were down to ten men. A Whitstable free kick was allowed to bounce in the penalty area and Bryant got to the ball ahead of the goalkeeper, but could only hook it over the bar. On 40 minutes Newman Poku won a corner on the right and the when the ball came in it was headed into the net at the far post by Kane Rowland, but the effort was disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Goal disallowed for a foul

Cass was then shown a card, before Corinthian had another penalty appeal waved away. In stoppage time Craig Thompson was brought down just outside the area on the left, earning a booking for Marcus Evans. As Hood and Quain stood over the ball, Joseph Hagan seemed surprised by Quain taking it left footed and the ball sailed over him into the far corner. The half time whistle blew immediately after the restart.

The free kick by Aaron Quain beats Joseph Hagan

The game calmed down in the second half with Corinthian trying to break down a disciplined Whitstable defensive display. An early Jamie Billings free kick was partially cleared to Josh James who volleyed over. Eason made a couple of comfortable saves before Junior Alade chipped over the bar. After 64 minutes Craig Thompson pulled up with his hamstring and goalkeeping substitute Harry Brooks had to come on to replace him. The home defence managed to clear a dangerous ball into their box before Eason had to get down to make a save at the other end. Brooks then showed a bit of skill on the ball to earn the team a free kick as he was chopped down. Lee, Bryant and Sedenu all made some timely interceptions as the whole team worked hard to protect the lead.

Reserve goalkeeper Harry Brooks (18) in attack

Into the last ten minutes, Billings was booked for dissent and then Sedenu also went into the book after being harshly penalised for a challenge, but Oscar Housego hit the resulting free kick over the top. Eason had to be at his best to push a Clarke shot away for a corner after he broke into the box. Brooks was doing his best to help hold the ball up for the team, but he too earned a yellow card for continuing his run after the whistle had blown. James was awarded the final card of the evening on 90 minutes before substitute Brima Daramy shot over from distance and Eason got down to make a final save to secure the win.

Dan Eason would not be beaten

It was a notable victory given the circumstances and a gutsy defensive performance, but perhaps Corinthian will reflect that they could have better utilised their numerical advantage. Whitstable can await the draw for the quarter finals.

Joseph Hagan, Adam Cooper, Joe Brown (Conor Johnson 50), Jamie Billings, Marcus Evans, Billy Carter (Michael Hagan 50), Abiola Junior Alade, Josh James, Luke Tanner (c) (Brima Daramy 62), Oscar Housego, Louis Clarke.
Subs (unused): Sam Groombridge, Jack Smith.
Yellow cards: Joe Brown 25, Billy Carter 25, Marcus Evans 45+2, Jamie Billings 80, Josh James 90.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain, Calvin Sedenu, Ashley Brown (Brendon Cass 19), Ollie Lee, Charlie Smith, Tom Bryant, Craig Thompson (Harry Brooks 64), Kane Rowland, Newman Poku.
Sub (unused): Harry Brown
Goal: Aaron Quain 45+3
Yellow cards: Charlie Smith 30, 35, Brendon Cass 42, Calvin Sedenu 82, Harry Brooks 86.
Red card: Charlie Smith (two yellows) 35

Attendance: 59
Referee: John Nazari
Assistants: Jamie Eacott & Dan Friar