Whitstable Beaten By Late Goal

SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday September 30 2017 15.00

Sevenoaks edged a scrappy encounter with a late winner in a game containing frequent stoppages, but few chances. The home side started the better on their new artificial pitch and Rory Hill scored the opening goal midway through the first half after they took advantage of some hesitant defending. Whitstable put in an improved performance after the break and Danny Williams equalised from the penalty spot when Ricky Freeman was fouled in the box, but they were unable to score again despite pressing forward for a time. Sevenoaks though began to threaten again towards the end, with Harrison Carnegie in particular finding plenty of space wide on the right. Just as a stalemate was looking the most likely outcome, with a couple of minutes remaining some careless play resulted in a Sevenoaks free kick and Hill got his second when his shot was deflected off the wall past a stranded Dan Eason.

Louis Sprosen and Charlie Smith were unavailable for this match, but new signings Chris Saunders and Josh Burchell were both included in the Whitstable squad. Sevenoaks finished in third place last season and have started this season well. There is now a new 3G pitch at The Bourne Stadium, Greatness Park and the pitch and surround looked smart, although facilities for the sparse crowd were somewhat limited on a dull and damp afternoon.

Sevenoaks started quite brightly, winning a couple of early corners, but it was the Whitstable captain Craig Cloke who had the first attempt, hooking the ball just wide following a free kick, before the dangerous Hill shot over the bar from 20 yards for the home side. Tom Bryant went into the book on 14 minutes for impeding Carnegie as he broke down the right, but a few minutes later it was the Whitstable player who needed attention after being caught by the Sevenoaks winger. The goalkeepers were not really being tested, but Eason had no chance when the home side opened the scoring after 25 minutes. Bryant was caught in possession by Carnegie and the ball eventually came in from the right where it was met by an unmarked Hill about 15 yards from goal and he fired it into the top corner.

Rory Hill fires Sevenoaks into the lead

Cloke volleyed just over at the back post from a Bryant corner and Billy Bennett headed off target at the other end. Saunders, who was working hard in midfield, was spoken to by the referee after a tackle on Brett Ince. As the interval approached, James Morrish was fouled on the edge of the box and Bryant rolled a clever free kick out to Freeman on the right, but his well struck shot was saved by Craig Holloway. The final chance of the half also went to Whitstable when Shaun Welford flicked a header on to Williams, whose header was comfortably saved.

Craig Cloke is just off target with this effort

Whitstable were back out on the pitch after a few minutes, no doubt hoping to put in a more creative performance in the second half. The referee did not have the easiest of afternoons and there were a lot of interruptions to play, with both benches having plenty to say and Whitstable coach Brendon Cass was asked to vacate the technical area shortly after the restart. A Freeman corner was met by the head of Welford, but Holloway was able to make the save.

Shaun Welford gets a header in, but Craig Holloway keeps it out

Both number elevens, Hill and Williams, were then booked on the advice of an assistant. A Sevenoaks corner was headed over the top by Robert Jones, but it was Whitstable who looked the more likely to score and they drew level in the 54th minute. Corey Holder was robbed by the impressive Freeman, who was then brought down by the home captain inside the box, earning him a yellow card, and Williams calmly tucked the penalty away, sending Holloway the wrong way.

Danny Williams scores from the spot
The goalkeeper is beaten

The visitors were now seeing more of the ball, although meaningful chances were hard to come by. Byron Walker went into the back of Morrish after they had challenged for the ball, sparking a confrontation that eventually saw both booked, although the Whitstable player was perhaps a little unfortunate. Freeman sent in a dangerous low cross that was well defended and a long throw by Welford kept the pressure on the home defence. A Williams shot was cleared behind for a corner and then he had another attempt easily saved by Holloway.

Sevenoaks gradually started to find more space out wide and a Carnegie shot from distance was deflected wide. Welford did well to win a free kick that was eventually gathered by Holloway. Carnegie went down after running into the box, but the penalty appeals were immediately waved away by the referee. A long cross field pass sent Carnegie away again, but his low shot went past the far post. After Freeman had a punt from distance that failed to trouble Holloway, there were a number of substitutions and the game seemed destined to end in a draw. In the 88th minute though, some casual defending by Whitstable resulted in a foul being given against Jack West as he tried to clear. The Whitstable right back, who felt that he had won the ball, was also booked. Hill struck the free kick and it took a big deflection off Nick Treadwell as the wall jumped and the ball ended in the net. There was little time left for Whitstable to respond and the points went to Sevenoaks.

Rory Hill takes the decisive free kick
The ball is deflected past Dan Eason for the winner

There was little between the teams on the day and both will hope to be around the top of the table come the end of the season. Sevenoaks started and finished the better, with Whitstable having their moments either side of the break. There will no doubt be busier days for both goalkeepers, with all three goals being the result of defensive errors.

Sevenoaks Whitstable
8 Attempts 10
3 On Target 5
4 Corners 4
2 Offside 2
7 Free Kicks Won 13

Sevenoaks Town
Craig Holloway, Jack Miles, Greg Benbow, Brett Ince, Tom Ripley, Corey Holder (c), Harrison Carnegie, Billy Bennett (Yacine Gnahore 82), Robert Jones (Tom Youngs 78), Byron Walker, Rory Hill.
Subs (unused): Stephen Camacho, Chris Edwards, Paul Springett.
Goals: Rory Hill 25, 88.
Yellow cards: Rory Hill 49, Corey Holder 54, Byron Walker 59.

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, Jack West, Tom Bryant, Rob Gillman, Craig Cloke (c), Stuart West, Chris Saunders (Ollie Lee 77), James Morrish (Nick Treadwell 81), Ricky Freeman, Shaun Welford, Danny Williams.
Subs (unused): Josh Burchell, Harris Rodgers, Dean Ruddy.
Goal: Danny Williams (pen) 54
Yellow cards: Tom Bryant 14, Danny Williams 49, James Morrish 59, Jack West 88.

Attendance: 132
Referee: Joshua Howard
Assistants: Chris Spalding & Matthew Sell