Two Penalties, Three Points

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday September 2 2017 15.00

Whitstable moved to the top of the early season table with their fourth straight win on a sunny afternoon at Bearsted. Shaun Welford put them in front from the penalty spot when Ricky Freeman was brought down after only 3 minutes. Any thoughts of a comfortable win were ended though when Reece Collins equalised for the home side with a good finish in their first meaningful attack a few minutes later. Whitstable then found it hard to break through again, despite pressing forward and having the majority of the chances. A couple of efforts were ruled out and goalkeeper Scott Andrews was called upon to make a few saves. It was eventually another Welford penalty that restored the lead on 78 minutes after his shot had struck the hand of Rob Lyall. Dan Eason had been a virtual spectator until Bearsted had a couple of very late corners as they tried to respond, but Whitstable held on to claim the points.

There were a couple of changes to the Whitstable starting line-up, with James Morrish resting a leg injury and Harry Goodger unavailable. Bearsted were missing several squad members for a variety of reasons and had yet to register a win in the current season. Whitstable started the game on the front foot and took an early lead from the penalty spot when Welford and Danny Williams combined to release Freeman inside the box and the referee had no hesitation in giving the penalty when he was brought down before he could test the goalkeeper. Welford stepped up and beat the outstretched left hand of Andrews.

Shaun Welford takes the first penalty
The ball beats the diving Scott Andrews

Welford then sent in a cross from the left that no one could quite reach as Whitstable went in search of a second goal. However with 8 minutes played, a good cross field ball from the halfway line by Cameron Croucher found an unmarked Collins, who controlled and fired the ball past Eason to bring the scores level. It was a good finish, but the Whitstable management team would not have been happy with the simplicity of the goal from a defensive point of view.

The away bench

Williams cut in from the right, beating several home players before shooting from the edge of the box, but Andrews was able to make the save. A Harry Brown corner from the right was fired into the Bearsted net, but the effort was ruled out. On 17 minutes, following one of a number of stoppages in play, Charlie Smith won a dropped ball and Freeman was fouled by Charley Epps 25 yards out. Louis Sprosen took the free kick, but Andrews got across well to save low by the near post and Williams was unable to get to the rebound before the goalkeeper recovered.

A free kick by Louis Sprosen is saved

Sprosen and Tom Bryant produced a good move down the left to play in Freeman, but his shot went wide. Williams had another shot that was easily saved by Andrews before Epps shot well over at the other end and then Croucher was also off target with a free kick. Freeman was the first player into the book on 38 minutes as he reacted to what he believed to be a foul on him. Lyall soon joined him in the notebook for a handball just outside the box, resulting in a free kick that Harry Brown struck high over the bar and the teams went in all square at the break.

Bearsted were forced into a substitution at half time as Lucian Scarlat, who had impressed in the corresponding fixture last season, was replaced by debutant Ignicio Garcia-Fernandez. On 51 minutes Andy Foster was booked for a poor challenge on Williams and from the free kick by Sprosen the ball was met by a head in the crowded area and deflected towards goal, but Andrews did well to see it past the post for a corner, which was headed behind for another one. This time the delivery by Harry Brown was met by Bryant at the far post and his header went back across goal into the net, but was ruled out by the officials.

The Bearsted keeper turns this one past the post
Tom Bryant heads for goal
The ball crosses the line, but it is disallowed

Bryant was booked on 63 minutes for a challenge in midfield, Epps played the free kick forward and the ball reached Garcia-Fernandez, but his weak shot was collected by Eason. Matt Garner was next in line for a yellow card for a foul and as the resultant free kick came into the box, Williams turned well, but failed to get any power in his shot. Epps was then also booked, presumably for an accumulation of fouls. Williams ran on to a good header forward by Stuart West, but again was denied by Andrews, before Craig Cloke headed the following corner over the top. Freeman tried his luck from distance but his effort just cleared the bar.

A long throw by Welford was cleared by Bearsted, who broke quickly, with Garcia-Fernandez just unable to direct his header on target following a good cross by substitute Josh White. Another Welford throw led to a couple of hand ball shouts, as Whitstable tried to increase the pressure on the home goal. It paid off with 12 minutes remaining when a Welford shot was blocked by the arm of Lyall as he went to ground and the referee again pointed to the spot. Welford stepped up once more and beat Andrews to put his team back in front.

A second penalty is given as a Shaun Welford shot strikes the arm of Rob Lyall

Bearsted won their first corner after 83 minutes and a Garcia-Fernandez shot was headed behind for a second and this time the ball was deflected up to Eason for a comfortable catch. The home team tried to apply a bit of pressure, but Cloke, Ashley Brown and Stuart West all covered well in defence when called upon. There was little further action of note and Whitstable went home with their fourth consecutive league win. On the balance of play the result was fair enough, but the feeling around the ground was that despite sitting top of the table, Whitstable have not yet played as well as they promised during a good pre-season campaign.

Bearsted Whitstable
7 Attempts 21
3 On Target 8
2 Corners 6
1 Offside 5
21 Free Kicks Won 19

Scott Andrews, Luke Hughes, Cameron Croucher, Andy Foster, Rob Lyall (c), Charley Epps, Jack Sellens (Josh White 63), Matt Garner, Reece Collins, Constantin Scarlat (Chris Carcary 77), Lucian Scarlat (Ignicio Garcia-Fernandez 46).
Subs (unused): Matt Blendell
Goal: Reece Collins 8
Yellow cards: Rob Lyall 42, Andy Foster 51, Matt Garner 65, Charley Epps 68.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Stuart West, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Louis Sprosen, Charlie Smith (Nick Treadwell 77), Ricky Freeman, Shaun Welford (Jack West 89), Danny Williams (Harris Rodgers 74).
Subs (unused): Rob Gillman, Carl Harrold.
Goals: Shaun Welford (pen) 3, (pen) 78.
Yellow cards: Ricky Freeman 38, Shaun Welford 58, Tom Bryant 63.

Attendance: 97
Referee: Paul Agboola
Assistants: Paul Franks & Matthew Sell