WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 LORDSWOOD 0
Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Tuesday March 27 2018 19.45
A cup double is still on for Whitstable, following a 4-2 aggregate victory over Lordswood in this SCEFL Challenge Cup semi-final. With a single goal advantage and three away goals from the first leg, Lordswood knew that they needed to win and score at least two goals to go through to the final. The first half was fairly comfortable for Whitstable, as they allowed their opponents no shots on goal or corners, but Dan Eason did have to be alert to beat Bradley Webb to a low cross just before the interval. Whitstable should really have been ahead, as Danny Williams grazed the top of the bar when he looked certain to score and Joe Kane cleared a deflected Josh Burchell cross off the line. Lordswood gave it a go in the second half, although their task was made more difficult when Teddy Nelson nodded in at the far post following a free kick in the 59th minute. Eason was called upon to make a few saves, but substitute Jack Mahon came closest to pulling a goal back when his header hit the post. There were to be no further goals however, as Whitstable extended their unbeaten run to sixteen games and booked their place in the final against Tunbridge Wells, who completed a 5-0 aggregate win over Crowborough.
Stuart West returned to the Whitstable team after his suspension and took the place of Rob Gillman, who started on the bench after being delayed on his journey to the ground. Shaun Welford was nursing a slight strain, so Danny Williams returned to the starting eleven. Lordswood made a couple of changes from the first leg, with Bradley Webb and Adam Hooper replacing Jordan Gallacher and Jack Mahon.
The opening stages were relatively quiet and a couple of good in swinging corners by Burchell that were pushed out by Ryan Chandler were the closest Whitstable came to opening the scoring. In the 15th minute, John Walker played the ball forward to Williams, who raced clear only to see his shot blocked by Chandler and as the ball came back to him, he lifted his shot onto the top of the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Chandler then saved from Ricky Freeman after West had headed the ball on for him. Then, a good pass by Macauley Murray found Burchell on the left and his low cross deflected off the goalkeeper towards the goal, but Joe Kane was on hand to clear. The only real threat to the home goal in the first half came on 35 minutes, when a good low cross from the right almost presented Webb a chance, but Eason got to the ball just before the Lordswood player. Whitstable reached the interval without ever looking quite as sharp as they had been in the previous couple of games, but they seemed comfortably in control, although with just the one goal lead they knew that things could still change in the remaining 45 minutes.
Shortly after the restart, Gary Cook was booked for bringing down Freeman and then a well struck shot from distance by Frankie Griffin brought a save from Eason. The hard working Freeman set up Williams and he took the ball forward into the box but his initial shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of Kane and as the ball rebounded to him, he struck it well, but this time Chandler managed to push the ball over the top to keep the scores level.
On 53 minutes, Tom Bryant appeared to be fouled, but play was allowed to continue, giving Lordswood a great chance, but they failed to make the most of the opportunity. Burchell was then cautioned for a challenge on Griffin as he tried to break. The only goal arrived on 59 minutes when Whitstable won a free kick on the right and Murray curled the ball into the box, where West jumped with the goalkeeper and a couple of defenders and the ball was helped on towards the far post where Nelson managed to shrug off some holding by Jason Hollick to head the ball into the net. It was a reward for another good performance by the young academy player.
Lordswood raised their game in the later stages, as they had done in the first leg and a good James Huggins cross was met by Hooper with a diving header, but it was an easy save for Eason. Mahon then came on for Huggins, whilst Whitstable sent on Louis Sprosen for Burchell. A Lordswood free kick was headed just wide and then a short corner was punched clear by Eason. A Griffin cross from the right was headed against the upright by Mahon, before a low shot from the rebound was safely gathered by the Whitstable goalkeeper. The referee awarded a free kick when Helge Orome went down just outside the box, much to the frustration of the home players, but the attempt by Hooper was saved low by Eason. More substitutions were made by the managers, with Ashley Miller and Gillman both coming on in the 75th minute as Whitstable made a double change. On 85 minutes Freeman ran through from midfield, keeping possession after a couple of challenges, to shoot low across the goal where West was just unable to force the ball in at the far post.
A determined run by James Morrish created an opening for Miller, but he was unable to get a shot away. West was booked for a foul, but the Lordswood free kick from 25 yards out was off target. The visitors felt they should have had a corner in stoppage time, but the officials gave a goal kick and there were to be no further opportunities and Whitstable were through to another final, to be played in early May.
|7||Free Kicks Won||10|
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell (Louis Sprosen 62), Teddy Nelson, Stuart West, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders (Rob Gillman 75), James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams (Ashley Miller 75), Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Shaun Welford, Dean Ruddy.
Goal: Teddy Nelson 59
Yellow cards: Josh Burchell 57, Stuart West 86.
Ryan Chandler, Frankie Griffin, Jason Hollick (Lennie Laker 90), George Blake, Gary Cook (c), Joe Kane, Bradley Webb, James Huggins (Jack Mahon 62), Adam Hooper (Tom Wooldridge 74), Jordan Wells, Helge Orome.
Subs (unused): Tom Carter, Peter Huggens.
Yellow card: Gary Cook 48
Referee: Stuart Marriott
Assistants: Dan Friar & Matthew Sell