Too Easy For Horsham

WHITSTABLE TOWN 0 HORSHAM 3
Bostik League South East
Saturday February 23 2019 15.00

The season continues to go downhill for Whitstable, as they were easily beaten by a good Horsham team who move up to second in the table. There were only about 15 seconds on the clock when Chris Smith shot past Dan Eason to put the visitors ahead. Whitstable did create a few opportunities in the first 20 minutes. Stuart West almost got his head to a Louis Sprosen free kick and there were several other set pieces that were well defended, but Horsham always looked more threatening at the other end. Lee Harding volleyed home at the far post to make it 0-2 after Eason had parried a Smith shot and it was all over just before the break when West handled a shot in the box and Smith dispatched the penalty kick. The second half was a non-event as Horsham took the opportunity to make some substitutions and Eason managed a few straightforward saves to keep the score down. Whitstable offered nothing to trouble a Horsham defence that have not conceded more than one goal in a match since before Christmas. Whitstable have yet to win in 2019 and that is unlikely to change if they continue playing in this manner.

Whitstable might have feared the worst, having lost the reverse fixture at Lancing 4-0 without a single attempt on target, particularly with strikers Ricky Freeman and Stephen Smith both starting suspensions. Charlie Smith and Teddy Nelson were playing on dual registration for K Sports and Lordswood respectively and the ever dependable Rob Gillman was only on the bench. Promotion chasing Horsham arrived in good form by contrast and few of the 200 in attendance would have expected anything but an away win.

The game kicked off in lovely spring-like conditions, but not everyone had taken their positions when Whitstable found themselves a goal down. Steve Metcalf played the ball down the right and Kieran Lavery knocked it on to his former South Park strike partner Smith, who shot past Eason from a tight angle into the far corner. The goal was timed between 12 and 15 seconds on various watches, but it was certainly an awful start for the home side, who have scored fewer goals than any team at step 4, with the exception of Egham Town and Skelmersdale United. A dangerous cross from the right by Harding was scrambled away to prevent a second goal in the 11th minute. Whitstable then had their best spell of the game as they tried to find an equaliser. Pelling managed to turn a good Sprosen free kick away from the top corner, West and Tom Bryant went close with headers and Taylor Fisher saw his curling free kick headed out from under the bar for a corner. Miles Cornwell had a shot deflected over the bar and Sprosen tried a shot from distance that flew just wide.

Stuart West goes close
A Tom Bryant header goes wide
This cross lands on top of the net

There was always a threat at the other end though and West did well to clear a Metcalf cross, but in the 27th minute Horsham scored again. James Morrish felt he had been fouled in midfield, but play continued and a fierce Smith shot was blocked by Eason and the ball came out to Rob O’Toole whose ball to the far post was put into the net by Harding, who collided with the post in the process. That seemed to put an end to any real hope that Whitstable may have had and they created very little afterwards. Lavery made a good run down the left and pulled the ball back for Smith, but he shot over the top. Joe Shelley was booked for a foul on Nick Treadwell, who battled away well in an unfamiliar role on his return from New Zealand. Just before half time, a Jack Brivio shot struck the arm of West and the referee pointed to the spot. Smith stepped up to find the bottom right corner, sending Eason the wrong way. A teasing cross from Metcalf almost led to another goal a minute later, but somehow it was missed by everyone and the teams went in with the score at 0-3.

Lee Harding (11) puts Horsham 2-0 ahead
Chris Smith beats Dan Eason from the penalty spot

Whitstable sent on Tom Walmsley a few minutes after the restart and Dan Hogan replaced Brivio for Horsham. James Trueman picked up the only Whitstable booking for a foul on Harding, who then had a low shot easily gathered by Eason. Both teams made further changes, but there was never any hint of a comeback by Whitstable. Another run and shot by Harding failed to trouble Eason and Shelley headed a corner wide, but there was little urgency from either team at this stage. The best Whitstable could manage in the half was a curling long range effort by Jordan Wright that was caught by Pelling. Smith was played through, but shot straight at Eason and Harding lifted a shot over the bar, before another Smith effort was easily saved. There was a late caution for substitute Scott Kirkwood, but the game drifted to its inevitable conclusion with little more action of note.

Dan Eason claims a high ball

Horsham had strengthened their play-off chances, being the only team in the top half of the table at the start of the day to win. Whitstable meanwhile must surely look to change things, with a tricky end of season awaiting at the wrong end of the table, starting with a trip to local rivals Herne Bay.

Whitstable Horsham
5 Attempts 11
2 On Target 8
5 Corners 4
2 Offside 6
8 Free Kicks Won 12

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, James Trueman, Jordan Wright, Stuart West, Tom Bryant, Louis Sprosen (Tom Walmsley 48), James Morrish (c), Miles Cornwell, Nick Treadwell, Taylor Fisher (Harry Brown 60).
Subs (unused): Michael Jenner, Rob Gillman.
Yellow card: James Trueman 54

Horsham
Josh Pelling, Steve Metcalf (Scott Kirkwood 76), Harvey Sparks, Dean Lovegrove, Joe Shelley, Dylan Merchant, Kieran Lavery, Jack Brivio (c) (Dan Hogan 56), Rob O’Toole (Tyrell Richardson-Brown 63), Chris Smith, Lee Harding.
Subs (unused): Lewis Hyde, George Hayward.
Goals: Chris Smith 1, pen 44, Lee Harding 27.
Yellow cards: Joe Shelley 41, Scott Kirkwood 81.

Attendance: 200
Referee: James Hurst
Assistants: Jordan Whitworth & Daniel D’Urso