Town Battle To Ninth Straight Win

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday January 28 2017 15.00

Whitstable made it nine wins in a row thanks to two second half goals and some determined defending. Opponents Rochester United were in fact the last team to score a goal against Whitstable in the reverse fixture a week before Christmas. On a difficult pitch the home side were second best in the first half, but a couple of smart saves by Dan Eason kept the game goalless at half time. Whitstable improved after the interval with an early effort being headed off the line before Rochester goalkeeper Dan Houckham had a couple of nervous moments with the ball slipping through his hands, once going on to hit the woodwork. Dan Nash struck the top of the bar with a free kick for the visitors. Craig Thompson finally headed Whitstable in front from an Aaron Quain cross on 64 minutes and top scorer Kane Rowland added a second from a Connor Hood cross with 10 minutes remaining. Rochester did press again in the latter stages, but could not find any way through.

Charlie Smith was serving a one game suspension and Ashley Brown was not quite ready to return from injury. The previously frozen pitch had only thawed in the previous 24 hours leaving it quite heavy in places. Rochester seemed to adapt the quicker and in a first half of few chances they were more effective in the midfield areas, picking up the loose balls and looking for the pass to unlock the home defence. On 10 minutes the ball was threaded through to Alex Kendall who found himself with just Eason to beat, but the Whitstable keeper was out quickly to save. The first Whitstable attempt was a speculative long range shot from Hood on 15 minutes with the Rochester keeper out of his area, but the ball went well wide. James Alderman was a bit fortunate to escape a card after a poor challenge and a bit of pushing in the aftermath, although Rob Alderman was shown a yellow card for a foul shortly afterwards. Joe Kennett also went into the book on 26 minutes after a sliding tackle halted a Kendall run down the left, but Eason was able to punch away the resultant Nash free kick.

The referee played the advantage after a heavy challenge on the halfway line and James Alderman raced clear only for Eason to block his shot and then Dan Gonzalez-Bello saw his follow up effort deflected for a corner. The away side were pressing and Kennett rose high to head away a couple of corners in quick succession. On 38 minutes a header by Bola Dawodu released Rowland, but he was closed down as he tried to get a shot away. In the final minute of the half a one-two between Rowland and Dawodu earned Whitstable their first corner, but the ball in by Quain was easily cleared.

Whitstable came out in the second half and immediately started to create the chances that had been absent before the interval. Dawodu first played in Thompson whose shot failed to trouble Houckham, then he found Quain on the left and his dangerous cross was touched behind for a corner. Quain took the corner from the right and Rowland appeared to divert it towards the top corner, but it was headed out by Steve Rothery. Rowland then ran on to a long clearance and won a corner that slipped through the hands of Houckham, but fortunately for the Rochester keeper it went just wide for another corner.

Steve Rothery heads this one off the line

On 55 minutes a Rochester attack saw a cross cleared from under the bar, but as the ball was played back in a free kick was given on the left edge of the penalty area for hand ball. Nash curled in a dipping effort, but it clipped the top of the bar. Back at the other end a Rowland cross caused more problems for Houckham who failed to catch it but it came back off the woodwork. A good break by Rowland then earned a corner that was taken by Hood and cleared back towards him, but Quain called for it and his first time cross was met perfectly at the far post by Thompson whose header flew past Houckham.

Craig Thompson heads for goal
The ball beats Dan Houckham

On 70 minutes a clever pass by Rowland set Quain free and he broke into the box and tried to chip the advancing keeper. It might have been a great goal, but he only managed to slice it wide of the near post. A promising run by Kendall earned Rochester a corner that was met by a Rochester head and appeared to be tipped over the bar by Eason, although a goal kick was awarded. A couple of minutes later though Whitstable broke down the right and substitute Harris Rodgers went down on the edge of the box, but the loose ball was curled in by Hood for Rowland to force over the line to make it 2-0.

Kane Rowland gets the second

Some good play allowed Dawodu to break clear and round the keeper, but his shot was just the wrong side of the post. Eason and his defence stood firm as the visitors applied some late pressure, but the closest they came to a consolation was after a mistake allowed Michael Hurcomb a good chance, but he curled his shot just high and wide of the far post. A final attack by Whitstable saw Hood shoot past the post after some good work by Tom Bryant and Rowland.

Bola Dawodu rounds the keeper
The shot hits the side netting

Whitstable had done enough in the second half to keep their winning run going and perhaps significantly another clean sheet. It had been hard work on a tricky pitch, but despite not playing well before the break their resilience saw them pick up another three points and rise to fifth in the table.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Aaron Quain (Harry Brown 86), Calvin Sedenu, Rob Gillman (c), Joe Kennett, Tom Bryant, Ollie Lee, Kane Rowland, Craig Thompson (Harris Rodgers 76), Bola Dawodu.
Subs (unused): Newman Poku, Brendon Cass, Harry Brooks
Goals: Craig Thompson 64, Kane Rowland 80.
Yellow cards: Joe Kennett 26, Kane Rowland 53.

Rochester United
Dan Houckham, Dan Nash, Steve Rothery, Tony Whitaker, Andy Pierce (c), Ricki Holmes, Rob Alderman (Michael Hurcomb 75), Harrison Hume (Sam Parrish 55), Dan Gonzalez-Bello, James Alderman, Alex Kendall (Chris McDermott 84).
Subs (unused): Reion McFarlane, Ehis Izokun.
Yellow card: Rob Alderman 18

Attendance: 135
Referee: James Hurst
Assistants: Brian Woodhouse & George Lowe