WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 ASHFORD UNITED 0
Bostik League South East
Saturday September 1 2018 15.00
Whitstable bounced back from a disappointing performance at Ramsgate to take maximum points from their first home league game of the season. Visitors Ashford United arrived at the Belmont having won their first three league games, but were unable to find a way through the home defence. Ashford had a lot of possession in the first half, but failed to test Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal, despite creating several openings. It was Whitstable who came closest to scoring, as a Jordan Wright header struck the post and Sam Mott saved well from Ricky Freeman. Ashford had a few chances in the second half, but Stefan Cox shot over when well placed and Eason made a couple of good saves and claimed several dangerous crosses. As time ticked away, the visitors looked less of a threat and after Stuart West had headed a corner over the bar, a mix up in the Ashford defence gave Whitstable the opportunity they needed and with Mott out of position, a long range shot rebounded off the bar and Tom Walmsley calmly steered the rebound into the net to score the decisive goal.
With Tom Bryant still not ready to return after his ankle injury, Charlie Smith suspended and Josh Burchell, Brett Ince and Nathan Hardwick not part of the squad, Whitstable were short of numbers for this match. Jordan Wright started at right wing back and John Walker switched to the left, with Jai McKinlay coming into the midfield. A fit again Ricky Freeman returned alongside Tom Walmsley up front, enabling Stuart West to drop back into defence. Ashford had surprisingly lost at home to Horsham YMCA in the FA Cup, but started the game sitting top of the league.
Ashford started the game confidently, putting the home defence under pressure as Eason was unable to claim an early ball into the box, but the ball was eventually cleared. Stefan Cox then shot over the bar from the edge of the area. In the 9th minute however, Whitstable almost took the lead when Walker did well on the left and sent over a great cross to the back post, where a diving header by Wright came back off the post. At the other end, Lanre Azeez sent delivered a good cross that was volleyed over by former Welling United and Greenwich Borough midfielder, Sam Corne. West then sliced the ball over his own goal for the first of four Ashford corners in the space of a few minutes. McKinlay made a timely block, just as the spell of pressure looked likely to result in an opening goal.
On 35 minutes, a promising run by Azeez saw him take the ball past Eason on the left of the box, but his cross was put over the bar by Cox. Walmsley then did well to win the ball in the centre circle and sent Freeman clear with a great pass, but Mott saved his shot at the near post. West headed the resulting corner towards goal, where it was eventually hacked away from the line by Harry Ottaway. Walker became the second home player, after Chris Saunders, to be booked when he halted an Ashford break. Just before half time, Walker was involved in the action once again, but his attempted pass to Freeman was just too firm and the teams went into the interval at 0-0.
Whitstable had an early attempt in the second half when, after some good possession, the ball reached Wright just outside the penalty area, but his left footed shot curled just wide of the far post. Ashford midfielder Jordan Johnson shot wildly over the top from distance, before another good run and cross by Azeez created a chance that should really have given Ashford the lead, but Cox at the back post again failed to hit the target. The game then became a little scrappy for a while with several bookings, although in the 70th minute Eason had to be alert as Ashford almost found a way through the excellent home defence.
An Ashford free kick on 79 minutes was taken by Johnson and helped on across the goal where Eason was at full stretch to get across to make the save and the ball just came off the far post. A few minutes later, West rose to meet a Whitstable corner, but his header went over. The winning goal was scored in the 84th minute, when Mott and Josh Wisson collided as they attempted to clear the ball and it came out to Walker whose attempted lob struck the bar and rebounded into the path of Walmsley just inside the 18 yard line and he finished well with a low shot past Mott and into the bottom right corner of the net. Freeman subsequently collected a yellow card for celebrating with the home fans behind the goal. Ashford made their third substitution and sent a couple of dangerous crosses into the box in the closing minutes, but Eason’s handing was secure and a glancing header over the top by Corne was the final chance and Whitstable had secured their first points.
It was a much better performance by Whitstable than in the loss at Ramsgate and a good Ashford side were shut out, although they will regret a few good chances that they failed to convert. FA Cup action returns to the Belmont on Saturday, with Bognor Regis Town sure to provide a major test.
|8||Free Kicks Won||14|
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, John Walker, Stuart West, Rob Gillman, Teddy Nelson, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman, Tom Walmsley, Jai McKinlay.
Subs (unused): Chris Elliott, Kyran Connolly, Rhys Brain.
Goal: Tom Walmsley 84
Yellow cards: Chris Saunders 32, John Walker 38, James Morrish 58, Stuart West 70, Teddy Nelson 79, Ricky Freeman 84.
Sam Mott, Siao Blackwood, Ollie Rowe, Jordan Johnson, Antonio Simeone, Josh Wisson, Sam Corne, Lea Dawson, Harry Ottaway (Matt Day 75), Lanre Azeez (Brandon Williams 85), Stefan Cox (Fidan Fejzi 63).
Subs (unused): Luis Morrsion, Clark Woodcock.
Yellow card: Lanre Azeez 80
Referee: Alexander Emery
Assistants: Joe Stokes & Rob Columb