Town Finish Fifth After Draw

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday April 29 2017 15.00

Whitstable got off to a flying start with two goals in the first ten minutes, as Kane Rowland and Rob Gillman both scored from close range. A comfortable win looked likely, but Corinthian soon pulled one back as the visitors defence went missing, allowing Marcus Evans the time and space to beat Dan Eason after a free kick was chipped into the box. Louis Clarke equalised midway through the half, converting a cross from the right. Gillman was then sent off after reacting to a poor challenge and Whitstable were down to ten men in the first half for the second time this season at Corinthian. Frankie Sawyer was unlucky not to put Whitstable back in front just before the break as his lob beat the goalkeeper but bounced just over the bar. Whitstable reorganised for the second half and did well to restrict the home team to a few opportunities, with Ollie Lee, Tom Bryant and Calvin Sedenu all making timely interceptions and Eason was only really called upon to make one good save from Michael Hagan. Bola Dawodu, Sawyer and Kane Rowland had chances at the other end and a draw was probably about right as the season came to an end.

The teams emerge with the Corinthian physio Stacey Watts

Several Whitstable players were missing for the conclusion to the season through suspension, injury or unavailability and a couple of those in the squad were not fully fit. The home team were saying farewell to their physio Stacey Watts after four years and she accompanied the team on to the pitch at the start. It initially seemed that Corinthian had decided their season had already ended, as they failed to offer much in the early stages. A good run down the left by Bola Dawodu, and a one-two with Sawyer, led to a cross into the box that was met by Craig Thompson and the ball eventually fell nicely for Rowland who finished just inside the post giving Whitstable the lead in the 4th minute.

Kane Rowland scores the first

Lee won the ball in midfield and passed to Rowland, but his cross went across the box without anyone being able to make contact. Whitstable soon made it 2-0 however as Louis Sprosen, playing in the right wing back role sent in a fierce, dipping shot from outside the penalty area. Martyn Young failed to gather the ball as it bounced awkwardly just in front of him and Gillman was able to bring it under control and lift it past the goalkeeper into the top right corner.

Rob Gillman about to score the second
Martyn Young is beaten and Whitstable lead 2-0

A couple of minutes later Jamie Billings, down injured, was booked- presumably for something said to the referee – and then substituted, with Jordan Campbell coming on to replace him. On 16 minutes Calvin Sedenu was penalised for a foul a few yards outside the box. Oscar Housego curled the free kick over the defence, straight to the unmarked Evans, who was able to pick his spot and fire the ball low past the diving Eason to bring the home side back into the match.

Marcus Evans makes it 2-1

The momentum had swung and now the home side began to get the upper hand, as Housego volleyed a cross just wide. Aaron Quain fouled Alexander Jack Billings in front of the home bench who all rose to demand a card, which was duly shown by the referee. The ball was then sent into the Whitstable box where Evans battled to gain possession and send it out to the right and as the cross came back in low to the far post, Clarke was first to it and brought the scores level. Sprosen shot wide for Whitstable at the other end from a corner routine, but Corinthian were soon back on the attack. On 34 minutes, as Gillman made a clearance he was caught late and high and his reaction was spotted by the assistant. After some discussion, the referee booked Luke Tanner and sent off the Whitstable captain. After Eason had easily saved a shot by Alexander Jack Billings, Thompson was booked for a late tackle near the touchline. On 41 minutes, a great ball over the defence by Quain found Sawyer and he lobbed the goalkeeper who had come out of his area. It looked like a good finish, but the ball bounced up and just over the crossbar.

Frankie Sawyer lobs the keeper, but the ball bounces over the bar

In stoppage time a through ball sent Clarke clear, but he sliced the ball well wide from the edge of the box when he looked likely to send Corinthian into the break with a lead.

Whitstable replaced Thompson with Seb Rowland at half time and played with a back four of Sedenu, Lee, Bryant and Quain in the second half. Sprosen, Dawodu, Kane and Seb Rowland played across the midfield leaving Sawyer in a lone role up front. This formation seemed to regain some control for the visitors who kept the ball better than they had done in the latter stages of the first half. There was an early scare however as a Corinthian corner led to a scramble that saw the ball cleared off the line several times before Eason tipped an Evans header over the bar.

Dawodu ran through the home defence, but his shot was comfortably held by Young. On 60 minutes Corinthian sent on Michael Hagan to replace Clarke and he almost got on the scoresheet straightaway when he got free in the box, but was denied by Eason. A dangerous Housego free kick was headed out by Bryant as far as Campbell who volleyed the ball over the bar and then, after Corinthian had made their final substitution, Evans headed a Hagan free kick wide. Sawyer shot past the post for Whitstable after being played in by Sprosen.

Some good defending by Lee halted a neat move as the game entered the last few minutes. Sedenu then appeared to be fouled as he tried to clear the ball, but the officials saw nothing wrong and as the ball was chipped into the box it just missed the head Alexander Jack Billings at the far post. A Quain free kick curled just wide of the post at the other end and then Kane Rowland worked his way into the box, but his shot hit the side netting. A late Housego header was well off target and the last home threat was ended as the referee blew for a foul following a disputed Corinthian corner.

Kane Rowland hits the side netting
The season is over

The point was enough to see Whitstable finish in fifth place, as sixth placed Sheppey lost to Cray Valley. Despite being towards the higher end of the table for most of the season, Whitstable never really threatened to finish in the top three and improvement will be needed against the better teams in order to mount a serious challenge next time around.

Martin Young, Bradley Large, Josh Gilbert (Josh James 70), Jamie Billings (Jordan Campbell 13), Marcus Evans, Sam Groombridge, Alexander Jack Billings, Jack Smith, Luke Tanner, Oscar Housego, Louis Clarke (Michael Hagan 60).
Subs (unused): Joseph Hagan, Jack Bath.
Goals: Marcus Evans 16, Louis Clarke 25.
Yellow cards: Jamie Billings 13, Luke Tanner 34.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Louis Sprosen, Aaron Quain, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Bola Dawodu, Kane Rowland, Frankie Sawyer, Craig Thompson (Seb Rowland 46).
Subs (unused): Harris Rodgers, Dan Smith, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Kane Rowland 4, Rob Gillman 10.
Yellow cards: Aaron Quain 24, Craig Thompson 38.
Red card: Rob Gillman 34

Attendance: 96
Referee: Matthew Pollington
Assistants: Dan Friar & Danny Swannell