Town Leave It Late

SCEFL Challenge Cup Second Round
Tuesday December 13 2016 19.45

Whitstable progressed to the last sixteen of the SCEFL Challenge Cup thanks to a stoppage time winner from Craig Thompson, who found enough space in the box to thump the ball past Sam Ogedengbe. Whitstable generally had the better of the possession against their lower league opponents, but were unable to find the net until the late winner. In truth they rarely worked the visiting goalkeeper despite winning eleven corners. Kent Football United, on their first visit to the Belmont, grew in confidence as the game progressed and with around 15 minutes left had a spell of attacking that threatened an upset. Dan Eason had to make a couple of smart saves and Gerry Gonnella hit the angle of post and bar with a well struck free kick. Whitstable got themselves back on top in the last few minutes and, just as it looked as though extra time would be required, eventually booked a trip to Corinthian in the next round.

Manager Scott Porter had to reshuffle the team with Harris Rodgers, Harry Brown and Aaron Quain all missing through injury and with Rob Gillman unavailable, Ashley Brown was made captain. Kane Rowland and Joe Kennett both returned to the squad, there was a start for Calvin Sedenu and Connor Hood was moved to the left. Opponents Kent Football United, who were sitting in fourth place in the SCEFL Division One, had some travel problems on the night and the kick off was put back five minutes. The game started slowly and for most of the first period Whitstable looked the better side without ever looking totally convincing. On 10 minutes, Darren Marsden found Rowland whose shot was blocked and shortly afterwards Thompson brought the ball down on the edge of the box and shot just past the far post. After some good passing Thompson set up Rowland, but the visiting keeper saved his shot and from the resulting corner Kennett saw a header tipped over the bar. Scott Punton got forward down the right and a good pass by Rowland gave him a chance to shoot, but his effort landed on the roof of the neighbouring Godfrey House. Thompson chipped into the hands of Ogedengbe after a good run and one-two with Marsden.

An early chance for Whitstable

After 25 minutes the visitors had their best opportunity of the first half when a Gerry Gonnella free kick was headed wide by Adam Williams. Ollie Lee who was having a good game in midfield played a clever ball out to Punton and his cross was met by Rowland, but his header went just wide. Lee and Marsden then combined well to set up Punton whose shot was just too high and the game remained goalless at the break.

The second half produced more entertainment for the sparse crowd with Whitstable winning nine corners, although Kent Football United created some decent chances of their own. Perrie Rose ran on to a Williams pass and got into a good position in the box before pulling up injured before he had a chance to shoot. Whitstable brought on Jack Mahoney for Brown after 50 minutes and Lee dropped back into the defence. Punton, Marsden and Rowland did well to set up Hood who shot over. Mahoney had a shot deflected wide, then Hood won a corner that was headed off the line after the ball was headed through a crowd of players. The tricky Ismail broke into the box and went down, but the referee saw no foul. A Rowland effort appeared to come back off the post after a build-up down the right, then Thompson saw a shot saved.

After 75 minutes the visitors won a free kick in a dangerous position as Dean Carpenter was brought down and Gerry Gonnella curled it over the wall, but it came back off the woodwork and an offside flag denied Ismail the chance to score from the rebound. Then Phillip McBean forced a great diving save out of Eason as the ball came back to him following a corner. A defensive mix up let in Carpenter, but again Eason was on hand to save. Whitstable recovered some control and with a few minutes remaining Mahoney struck a free kick over the bar after Charlie Smith had been fouled. Marsden and Mahoney had efforts blocked before Marsden was booked for halting a threatening counter attack. Finally in added time Marsden played the ball out to Hood and his ball in from the left fell to Thompson who turned and shot past Ogedengbe from around the penalty spot. A late corner at the other end was cleared by Sedenu to seal the win.

Craig Thompson hits the winner
Relief and despair

Whitstable therefore remain in two competitions but will need to find something more in the later rounds if they are to have any chance of progressing to a final. This Tuesday night pre-Christmas fixture clearly did not appeal to supporters and the crowd must be the lowest gate recorded at the Belmont for a competitive fixture in a very long time.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Joe Kennett, Connor Hood, Ashley Brown (c) (Jack Mahoney 50), Calvin Sedenu, Ollie Lee, Charlie Smith, Scott Punton (Brendon Cass 86), Craig Thompson, Darren Marsden, Kane Rowland.
Subs (unused): Newman Poku, Harry Brooks.
Goal: Craig Thompson 90+1
Yellow cards: Connor Hood 60, Craig Thompson 83, Darren Marsden 89.

Kent Football United
Sam Ogedengbe, Antonio Gonnella, Briggs Ojemen, Phillip McBean, Danny Willis (c), Luke Coleman, Perrie Rose (Nicholas Gonsalves 51), Dean Carpenter, Adam Williams (Dominic Weston 61), Gerry Gonnella, Ismail Ismail.
Sub (unused): Kieron Burrell
Yellow card: Dean Carpenter 84

Attendance: 42
Referee: Joseph Dann-Pye
Assistants: Daniel Barham & Ryan Chantrill-Smith