Tough Start For Whitstable

CRAY WANDERERS 2 WHITSTABLE TOWN 0
Bostik League South East
Sunday August 19 2018 15.00

Whitstable faced a difficult challenge in their first game back in the Bostik League, travelling to Bromley to play one of the title favourites, Cray Wanderers. Goalkeeper Dan Eason and the Town defence played well to keep the game scoreless until midway through the second half, when Junior Dadson shot past Eason after he had parried a shot from substitute Ben Mundele. Aaron Rhule, who had earlier missed a couple of great chances, finally made sure the points would go to Cray when he added a second after being set up by Michael Power just before the end. Whitstable did not create many chances, but Nick Blue had to make a good early save from Ricky Freeman and a dangerous Jordan Wright free kick was headed wide by Jai McKinlay towards the end.

For this rare Sunday fixture, Whitstable were without Teddy Nelson and Charlie Smith, the latter having picked up an ankle injury that was decided not safe to risk on the artificial surface. Cray had won their first league outing at Greenwich Borough 3-0 and, having made a few changes for their 2-1 Kent Senior Cup win against Ramsgate, reverted here to their previous starting eleven, apart from the inclusion of Junior Dadson, whose previous clubs include Halifax Town, Bishop’s Stortford and Harlow Town. This was the first league match between the two teams for ten years.

There was an impressive attendance of 316, helped by the presence of the Cray Wanderers youth teams, who stood to greet the teams as they came onto the pitch. The game started in promising fashion, with Karl Dent releasing Power, whose shot from a narrow angle was pushed behind by Eason and from the corner, Eason had to block an attempt by Marcus Evans at the far post. At the other end, a good cross by Freeman was cleared by the Cray defence and another break by Whitstable down the right was spoilt by a poor cross. A good run by the talented Rhule saw him take the ball round Eason, but his ball into the middle was stopped by Tom Bryant. Some neat play on the edge of the box created an opening for Power, but Eason came to the rescue once more, tipping the ball over the bar. The Cray goalkeeper had to be alert on 13 minutes, when Freeman collected a forward pass from John Walker on the right and hit a dipping shot that Blue did well to tip over the top.

An early save by Dan Eason
Nick Blue stretches to keep out a Ricky Freeman effort

Cray continued to dominate possession, but fired a couple of shots wide before Dadson forced another save from Eason. Rob Gillman did well to head a cross behind for a corner, which then led to a bit of a scramble before Rhule had a shot blocked. Whitstable won two free kicks that were dealt with by the Cray defence and then Power did put the ball in the net from long range, but the whistle had already blown for a Whitstable free kick. On 31 minutes, Walker was booked for a foul on the left edge of his own penalty area, but Dent sent the free kick well over the top. Whitstable had another opportunity when a clearance fell to Freeman, but he was unable to get a firm enough connection to trouble Blue. Whitstable felt Brett Ince was pushed over by Power, but he was allowed to continue and passed to Rhule, whose shot was saved by Eason. The Whitstable captain James Morrish was shown a yellow card for a challenge as the interval approached, but there were no further serious efforts on goal and the score remained 0-0 at half time.

The goalkeeper beats Tom Bryant to a corner
Brett Ince on the attack

The second half started slowly in the warm conditions, apart from one wild effort from Dadson. Eason did have to make a save from the former Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient midfielder Bradley Pritchard on 55 minutes, following a good move from a Cray free kick. Cray introduced Mundele from the bench and Whitstable were forced into a change when Ince picked up an injury. A Wright free kick for Whitstable was met by Bryant, but his header was easily gathered by Blue. On 63 minutes a corner by Dent was headed wide by an unmarked Rhule and a couple of minutes later Dadson shot at Eason from distance, then Morrish did really well to block another attempt by Power. The deadlock was finally broken in the 68th minute when Mundele ran at the Whitstable defence and although Eason was able to block his shot, the ball came out to Dadson, who found the far corner to put Cray ahead.

Second half entertainment by the Red Arrows
A Ben Mundele shot is parried by the Whitstable goalkeeper
Junior Dadson’s tucks away the rebound to open the scoring

The lead should have been doubled on 83 minutes when Tom Phipp sent Rhule clear on goal, but Eason forced him wide and he allowed the ball to run out for a goal kick. Power headed a cross wide, before Whitstable had a free kick that Wright curled to the back post and McKinlay beat Bryant to the header, but could not quite get high enough to hit the target. The second Cray goal came in the 88th minute when Power rolled the ball to Rhule, who shot under Eason to wrap up the points. Whitstable won a late corner, but were unable to claim a consolation goal and Cray fully deserved their victory. Whitstable put in an organised, defensive display and did well to stay in the game against a good side until the closing minutes.

Jai McKinlay heads a late free kick wide
Aaron Rhule makes it 2-0

Several Whitstable players left the pitch nursing injuries, so with an FA Cup tie at Hounslow on Saturday, there may be some enforced changes for the Kent Senior Cup match against VCD at the Belmont on Tuesday evening.

Cray Wands Whitstable
19 Attempts 5
11 On Target 3
10 Corners 4
5 Offside 5
11 Free Kicks Won 13

Cray Wanderers
Nick Blue, Barney Williams (c), Archie Johnson (Ben Mundele 58), Tom Phipp, Marcus Evans, Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Zak Henry 87), Michael Power, Aaron Rhule (Malik Solebo 90), Junior Dadson.
Subs (unused): Freddie Parker, Joe Vines.
Goals: Junior Dadson 68, Aaron Rhule 88.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell (Jai McKinlay 70), Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Jordan Wright, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Nathan Hardwick 76), Tom Walmsley, Brett Ince (Chris Saunders 60).
Subs (unused): Kyran Connolly, Chris Elliott.
Yellow cards: John Walker 31, James Morrish 37.

Attendance: 316
Referee: Tom Fell
Assistants: Lawrence Torz-Brown & Tolga Inanc