Two Hat Tricks Win Vase Thriller

WHITSTABLE TOWN 6 LANCING 5 (After Extra Time – Score After 90 Minutes 4-4)
Buildbase FA Vase Second Round Qualifying
Saturday September 23 2017 15.00

Whitstable scraped through to the First Round Proper of the FA Vase after a crazy game of football at the Belmont on a warm, sunny afternoon. There were eleven goals, three penalties and a number of good saves, but it was the home side that eventually came out on top against their visitors from West Sussex, who played some good football, although both managers will have headaches about some of the defending. Danny Williams gave Whitstable an early lead, but Lewis Finney soon equalised, before Shaun Welford and Williams again made it 3-1 midway through the first half. Lewis Finney scored his second after his penalty had been parried by Dan Eason and then a free header by Alex Fair sent the teams in all square at the break, helped by Tyler D’Cruz saving a Welford penalty. Lancing started the second half on top and Alex Bygraves put them in front for the first time, only for Williams to complete his treble from the penalty spot a few minutes later. There was plenty of action, but no further goals, so the game went into extra time. Two trademark Welford headers either side of a 35 yard strike by Fair put Whitstable 6-5 up at the interval and with both teams tiring, there was little goal threat at either end in the final period and Whitstable go into the draw on Monday.

Lancing play in the Southern Combination Football League, where they currently sit fifth from bottom of the Premier Division, although their recent form had been quite good and they had won 5-3 at Rochester United in the previous round of the FA Vase. Whitstable made one change to their starting line up from the previous game, with the unfit James Morrish being replaced by Ollie Lee.

There was an early stoppage as Lee required treatment for an injury that saw him briefly leave the field. In the 5th minute Whitstable opened the scoring from a Tom Bryant corner, when goalkeeper D’Cruz failed to collect whilst under pressure from Welford and the ball looped towards the goal where Williams rose to head home despite being surrounded by yellow shirts.

Tyler D’Cruz fails to hold the corner
Danny Williams scores the first

With 12 minutes played, Lancing were back on terms as Mike Williamson saw George Rudwick in oceans of space on the right and Bryant was unable to prevent a good low cross which found its way to the back post where Lewis Finney arrived to shoot past Eason.

Lewis Finney makes it 1-1

Five minutes later, the home side were in front again when Ricky Freeman chased a ball down the right and played it back for Louis Sprosen whose pass sent Welford through and he shot past D’Cruz and into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Shaun Welford (out of shot) scores the second

Bygraves had a sight of goal when he met a Lewis Finney corner, but the ball was just too high for him to direct his header on target. It seemed like Whitstable might be heading for another comfortable win when another mistake by the Lancing keeper gifted them a third goal on 22 minutes. He failed to collect another Bryant corner and Craig Cloke headed the ball back across the goal to the waiting Williams, who once again nodded in from close range.

Williams nods in the third goal for Whitstable

Lancing were not about to give up though and the speedy Luke Donaldson had two good efforts saved in quick succession, the second of which came out to Williamson and his well struck shot from outside the box was just kept out by the diving Eason as he turned the ball around the post. They did not have long to wait for another goal however as Donaldson ran into the box and went down when challenged and the referee decided to award a penalty. Eason saved the spot kick by Lewis Finney, but was unable to prevent him firing home the rebound on 26 minutes.

Dan Eason is at full stretch to save this one
Eason saves the penalty, before Lewis Finney scores from the rebound

Whitstable came close to restoring their two goal advantage from a couple of corner kicks, before the visitors made it 3-3 on 35 minutes. A free kick following a foul by Lee on the left was clipped into the box by the right foot of Lewis Finney and an unmarked Fair headed the ball over Eason from around the penalty spot. Donaldson skipped past Jack West down the left wing and the Whitstable right back chased back and brought him down earning the first yellow card of the match. Lewis Finney struck the resultant free kick into the wall. Williamson then broke into the box, but his weak finish was gathered by Eason. Whitstable went close after some interplay between Lee, Freeman and Welford. It was a long throw by Welford that led to a great chance for a half time lead, when the ball was flicked on at the near post by Lee and struck the raised arm of Elliot Finney. A penalty was given, but Welford saw his shot saved by D’Cruz diving to his right.

Handball at the near post
The penalty is saved

In stoppage time Freeman turned and hit a shot, but it lacked the power to trouble the keeper and an action packed half ended level at 3-3.

Lancing had their best spell of the match at the start of the second half, as Whitstable had a very sluggish few minutes. The ball was in the net after a couple of attempts following a corner, but a free kick was given for a foul on Eason and then Fair had a shot deflected for another corner. On 51 minutes, the pressure finally told as a deep cross was headed against the bar by an unmarked Lewis Finney and Bygraves was on hand to head in the rebound. Fair was causing lots of problems, sometimes dropping deep to collect the ball, and he twisted and turned on the 18 yard line, but failed to beat Eason. Whitstable gradually got themselves going again and Bryant headed a Sprosen free kick just wide at the back post. On 57 minutes a fierce Sprosen shot struck a hand and another penalty was the result. This time Williams made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way and finding the right hand corner for his third goal of the afternoon.

Louis Sprosen wins another penalty as his shot is blocked with a hand
Williams tucks the penalty away

The remainder of the half surprisingly brought no further goals, but there were a number of opportunities at both ends. The Whitstable manager Scott Porter said afterwards that he felt his team had not played well and certainly they allowed their visitors too much time and space to play their football, with the full backs in particular looking exposed at times. Lancing were a constant threat with some skilful players, but looked very vulnerable at the back and struggled to defend set pieces.

The referee pointed to the penalty spot for the fourth time on 63 minutes when Williams was fouled by the goalkeeper, but he changed his mind on consulting his assistant who appeared to suggest that the ball had been out of play at one point. Charlie Smith replaced Lee for Whitstable before Lewis Finney shot just wide and Freeman had a shot saved at the other end. Sprosen was booked for delaying a free kick and then some poor defending by Lancing gave Freeman a chance, but his well struck shot was just tipped over by D’Cruz. On 83 minutes after a good move, Williamson fired a shot towards the top corner from well outside the area, but Eason somehow got across to deny him and Bygraves headed the corner over the top. Smith was booked for a foul and from the free kick a couple of attempts were blocked by the home defence. In the 90th minute, Smith himself was brought down 25 yards out. He took the free kick himself and struck the foot of the post with the keeper beaten. Normal time ended with the scores level at 4-4.

Charlie Smith hits the post in the last minute

As extra time began, the tricky Fair created himself an opening, but took too long and the chance was gone. Freeman had a shot pushed behind for a corner and Fair and Lewis Finney both had further shots for Lancing. With precisely 100 minutes on the watch, a Freeman corner was headed in off the underside of the bar by Welford to put Whitstable ahead again, but the lead only lasted four minutes as a snap shot from 35 yards by Fair flashed across Eason and into the corner of the net. He almost gave his team the lead when he volleyed just wide shortly afterwards. It was Whitstable though who went 6-5 ahead in added time, when a good Sprosen cross was headed in from beyond the far post by Welford, completing a hat trick for the 38 year old striker.

Shaun Welford heads number five
Welford completes his treble and secures the win

Both teams used all three substitutes, but tiring legs and a more solid shape employed by the home side meant that the final period of extra time was relatively uneventful and so it was Whitstable who progressed to the next round, collecting another £725 prize money. The draw for the next round is due to be published on Monday, but another game like this must be unlikely. It was one of those games that the neutral observer might think neither team deserved to lose.

Whitstable Lancing
19 Attempts 25
15 On Target 17
9 Corners 11
4 Offside 6
7 Free Kicks Won 17

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jack West, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman, Craig Cloke (c), Stuart West, Louis Sprosen, Ollie Lee (Charlie Smith 67), Ricky Freeman (Nick Treadwell 101), Shaun Welford, Danny Williams (Harris Rodgers 93).
Sub (unused): Dean Ruddy
Goals: Danny Williams 5, 22, (pen) 57, Shaun Welford 17, 100, 105+1.
Yellow cards: Jack West 39, Louis Sprosen 81, Charlie Smith 86.

Tyler D’Cruz, David Marsh, Lewis Broughton (Magic Sibanda 120+1), Alex Bygraves (c), David Sharman (Alex Spinks 115), Elliot Finney (William Berry 99), George Rudwick, Mike Williamson, Alex Fair, Luke Donaldson, Lewis Finney.
Sub (unused): Michael Platt
Goals: Lewis Finney 12, 26, Alex Fair 35, 104, Alex Bygraves 51.

Attendance: 129
Referee: Thomas Nicholls
Assistants: Daniel Sanchez & Anjam Mirza