CROYDON ATHLETIC 0 WHITSTABLE TOWN 3
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday November 19 2016 15.00
Whitstable eased to a second 3-0 win this season against AFC Croydon Athletic. Both teams created a few openings in the early stages, with perhaps the better chances falling to the home side for whom Warren Mfula was causing some problems with his running. Ashley Brown rose above everyone to head the first from a corner on 28 minutes and Craig Thompson slid in to add the second shortly afterwards following a strong run by Ollie Lee. Croydon still threatened to get back into the game at times, but on 70 minutes Charlie Smith beat the goalkeeper to a long ball and curled the ball into the unguarded net to seal the points. There was still time for another effort to come back off the Croydon bar as the home side seemed to run out of ideas with the Whitstable defence looking more assured and Nick Treadwell, Darren Marsden and Lee winning most of the balls in midfield. It was a good team performance as Whitstable returned to winning ways after a couple of disappointing defeats.
Due to heavy traffic in the area, a number of players were late arriving and the officials delayed the kick off until 3.15pm. A minute’s silence was then held in respect of the victims of the recent Croydon tram crash. Aaron Quain and Harris Rodgers were both unavailable and Jack Mahoney, a new midfield signing from Thamesmead, had problems getting to the match and was unable to start. Croydon started quite brightly and their number nine Mfula, one of the league’s top scorers, was at the heart of most of their attacking threat. In the first few minutes he controlled a pass from Jack Guilford with his right foot and fired it just over the bar with his left. Austin Gacheru than released him with a through ball and he struck it well, but just past the far post. At the other end Thompson shot at the keeper from a narrow angle after a good build up and then almost got in following a mix up in the home defence. On 15 minutes Rob Gillman headed the ball away, but it fell to Mfula on the right edge of the penalty area and his swerving shot was beaten out by Dan Eason where it was played back in by Mfula to Morgan Jenden whose shot was just too high. Mfula then headed a good cross over the bar. On a Whitstable break, Lee was fouled just outside the box, but Marsden’s free kick was too high. Mfula was soon in the action again as he controlled the ball 20 yards out and rolled it into the path of Jenden who shot over when he should really have done better.
It was Whitstable who took the lead though as a break down the right saw a Connor Hood cross met by Thompson on the far side of the box and his first time shot was pushed around the post for a corner by Daniel Burnett. Harry Brown’s delivery from the right was met by Ashley Brown, who got his head to the ball ahead of Burnett to score. It was soon 2-0 as Lee picked up the ball after some pressure by Smith, brushed off several attempted challenges and squared the ball to Thompson, who slid in to force the ball into the net. Croydon were awarded a free kick, as Thompson was booked for a foul just inside the Whitstable half, and the ball into the box was helped on by Guilford. Eason pushed it up in the air, then got back to punch clear from under the bar and despite protests from the home team the assistant ruled that it had not crossed the line. Smith and Marsden both had further attempts to extend the lead as half time approached and then Marsden played a clever pass into the path of Harry Brown, but he shot wide when through on goal.
After the break, Smith had an early effort saved by Burnett after a run across the 18 yard line, before Mfula broke away and crossed just out of the reach of the incoming Bradley Wilson. After Marsden saw another attempt clear the bar, Mfula went past several challenges but again failed to hit the target when well placed. On 66 minutes Smith got through after an error by Simon Cooper, but was unable to finish. He did though a few minutes later as he challenged Burnett for a long ball and was able to go past him and from the left edge of the penalty area his curling shot struck the far post and went in to make it 3-0.
After this the home side seemed to resort to playing longer balls that were mostly dealt with comfortably by the Whitstable defence. Treadwell seemed to be winning every ball in midfield, ably supported by Lee and Marsden, who made a number of runs deep into the Croydon half. Some good play down the right between Marsden and Smith led to a shot from outside the box that sailed over Burnett, but struck the bar. Marsden then made a run into the box and went down under a last ditch challenge, but penalty claims were waved away. Ben Rayner had the last effort on goal for Croydon, but his shot was off target as so many of his team’s had been on the day.
So it was a welcome three points for Whitstable on a day when most of the top teams had comfortable wins. Everyone played well in a solid team effort and two cup games now follow. Croydon Athletic showed enough going forward to suggest they will cause teams problems, but on the day just couldn’t find the net.
AFC Croydon Athletic
Daniel Burnett, Chevan Xavier (Larry Boateng 36), Luke Turner, Simon Cooper (c), Janichell Santos, Ben Rayner, Jack Guilford (Carlton Murray-Price 62), Morgan Jenden, Warren Mfula, Austin Gacheru, Bradley Wilson (Emanuel Oloyede 73).
Subs (unused): Jason Coates, Jaydan Thomas-Willis.
Yellow cards: Ben Rayner 54, Austin Gacheru 64.
Dan Eason, Connor Hood, Harry Brown, Ashley Brown, Rob Gillman (c), Scott Punton, Ollie Lee, Nick Treadwell, Craig Thompson (Newman Poku 81), Darren Marsden, Charlie Smith.
Subs (unused): Jack Mahoney, Brendon Cass.
Goals: Ashley Brown 28, Craig Thompson 31, Charlie Smith 70.
Yellow cards: Craig Thompson 33, Connor Hood 59.
Referee: Ronald Albert
Assistants: Jamie Gray & Joe Neanor