Town Outplayed By Lordswood

SCEFL Premier Division
Monday April 17 2017 15.00

For the second time over the holiday weekend, Whitstable were generally outplayed by a team fighting relegation. A bizarre own goal and good goalkeeping helped secure a somewhat fortunate win on Saturday, but a woeful Easter Monday display meant three valuable points for a hard working Lordswood team containing several ex-Whitstable players. The home team pressed forward from the start and a great strike by Adam Hooper gave them a deserved lead. He was also the key figure in the Whitstable equaliser as he first fouled Craig Thompson when he was the last defender and then deflected the resulting free kick past his own goalkeeper, under challenge by Kane Rowland. It failed to inspire the Oystermen however, as Lordswood continued to dominate and they might well have been given a penalty a few minutes later. Jordan Wells converted a low cross midway through the second half to put the home side back in front and Whitstable offered little in response, apart from a couple of long range Ollie Lee efforts and a strong penalty claim after a handball appeared to halt a Seb Rowland run. Despite an end of season, patchy, uneven playing surface and a few puzzling decisions, there can be little excuse for such a lacklustre performance and Lordswood fully deserved their win.

Whitstable were without Aaron Quain and James Morrish due to illness, while Bola Dawodu was unavailable. Striker Frankie Sawyer was suffering from an injury and therefore not risked in the starting eleven. The Lordswood team contained a few faces familiar to Whitstable fans, but one of their squad had to be helped from the field before the game had started having picked up an injury.

Lordswood pushed Whitstable back in the early stages, winning a couple of corners, and Wells shot wide after a spell of pressure. From another corner, Sean Bremner swung a dangerous ball into the box where Gary Cook just failed to connect with his head. Whitstable did manage to get down the other end after 15 minutes, where Craig Thompson and Rowland set up Harry Brown, whose shot was easily caught by Ryan Chandler. Kyle McDowall then sent in a cross from the left and Wells played the ball back into the path of Hooper who hit it first time with his left foot and it curled away from Dan Eason and into the top corner to open the scoring on 17 minutes. Another good run and cross by McDowall was headed wide a few minutes later. After Charlie Smith had picked up a booking for a foul near the corner flag, a header out by Tom Bryant was picked up by David Smith on the right, who drove forward but shot straight at Eason.

Just on the half hour mark, Thompson robbed Hooper and set off towards goal only for the home captain to bring him down just outside the penalty area before he had a chance to test the goalkeeper. Hooper was clearly the last defender and must have feared it would be his last involvement in the game, but surprisingly he only received a yellow card. Harry Brown sent the free kick into the wall, but the rebound was chipped back into the box and as Hooper and Rowland challenged, it was the former who got the touch that sent it past Chandler to make it 1-1.

Adam Hooper escapes with a yellow card
Adam Hooper heads towards his own net
The ball beats Ryan Chandler

The equaliser did little to alter the balance of play and after David Smith had won another corner, the ball in was stabbed clear by Ashley Brown, but only as far as Wells who went down as the Whitstable defender tried to win the ball back. The home team were certain they should have had a penalty and Wells was booked for his protests. The two Lordswood wide players, David Smith and McDowall, were causing problems and the shape of the Whitstable team seemed to be allowing them too much space. A late challenge on McDowall by a frustrated Thompson earned him a booking. McDowall then had a low shot from 20 yards deflected just wide and Wells met a cross from the right and shot over the bar just before half time. The scores remained level at the break, but the corner count was 7-0 to the home side.

Dan Eason is under pressure

Things did not really improve for the visitors as the teams came out for the second half. A David Smith cross was headed wide by McDowall and the Whitstable manager was spoken to by the match officials for complaining after a handball was missed during another home attack. Smith threatened again on 50 minutes, getting past Harry Brown and seeing his shot saved by Eason, who then had to block an attempt by Wells. The fit again Louis Sprosen replaced Jack Mahoney for Whitstable on 55 minutes. A long punt by Lee clipped the top of the bar and Harry Brown tried a shot from around 50 yards when spotting Chandler out of his goal, but was off target. Seb Rowland was introduced as a substitute for Charlie Smith and did manage to give Whitstable a bit more of an attacking threat on a few occasions, although Lordswood were back in front on 68 minutes when David Smith went past his marker and sent in a low cross that was swept past Eason, low to his right, by Wells.

Eason keeps this attempt out
Jordan Wells scores the winner

Cook was booked for a foul on Thompson, before a well struck half volley by Lee from distance was held by Chandler. Sprosen and Grant McIlheron were next into the notebook for infringements and both teams made substitutions with Calvin Sedenu replacing Thompson in an unusual forward role and Charlie Plummer coming on for Lordswood in place of David Smith. It was on 84 minutes that Lee and Harry Brown combined to win the first of three Whitstable corners. Seb Rowland broke into the box and all of the Whitstable players were convinced a penalty should have been awarded for a handball, but they were to be disappointed. As the third Whitstable corner was taken, Lee was held in the box by Plummer and then Chandler struck out at Lee sparking some routine pushing and shoving, which was eventually sorted out with yellow cards for Lee and the fortunate Chandler. Lordswood made a couple of substitutions in stoppage time and Kane Rowland had a shot comfortably saved as the home side held on with few alarms to claim all three points.

This was a very poor display by Whitstable, who will need to show a lot more application and tactical awareness against Cray Valley PM in their next game if they want to get anything out of the final home fixture of the campaign..

Ryan Chandler, Carl Harrold, Adam Hooper (c), Grant McIlheron, Sam Lovage, Gary Cook, David Smith (Charlie Plummer 84), Sean Bremner, Jordan Wells, Hicham Akhazzan (Jason Hollick 90), Kyle McDowall (Tom Carter 90+4).
Subs (unused: Jake Creed, Steven Mills.
Goals: Adam Hooper 17, Jordan Wells 68.
Yellow cards: Adam Hooper 30, Jordan Wells 37, Gary Cook 70, Grant McIlheron 83, Ryan Chandler 89.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman (c), Ashley Brown, Jack Mahoney (Louis Sprosen 55), Ollie Lee, Kane Rowland, Craig Thompson (Calvin Sedenu 84), Charlie Smith (Seb Rowland 67).
Subs (unused): Frankie Sawyer, Harry Brooks.
Goal: Adam Hooper (o.g.) 31
Yellow cards: Charlie Smith 23, Craig Thompson 41, Louis Sprosen 80, Ollie Lee 88.

Attendance: 83
Referee: Phillip Dunkley
Assistants: Stephen Luke & Matt Charles