Williams Double Puts Town Second

WHITSTABLE TOWN 2 HOLLANDS AND BLAIR 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday February 3 2018 15.00

Whitstable continued their good form with a 2-0 home win against the bottom team, Hollands and Blair. Despite collecting only five points all season, they do have players capable of causing problems and this match remained competitive throughout. It was the visitors who almost scored in the opening moments, when Justin Ascheri raced clear only to be denied by a diving Dan Eason. Whitstable started to create the better chances though and following several near misses, Ricky Freeman was fouled in the box and top scorer Danny Williams tucked the penalty past Louis Lawlor. Tom Bryant had a header ruled out for offside and just the single goal separated the sides at the break. The early minutes of the second half saw chances at both ends and the goalkeepers were called upon to make good saves, before John Walker set up Williams for his second goal. With a two goal cushion, a home win looked the likely outcome, but the Whitstable defence still had to earn their clean sheet and Jack Simon went close with a great strike that was deflected just over the bar. Whitstable were unable to add to their score, but had done enough to move up to second in the table.

With several players returning, Whitstable manager Scott Porter had some decisions to make with his starting eleven, although Ronnie Dolan had been recalled by Folkestone after three games. James Morrish was available after suspension and started in midfield, together with Stuart West and Macauley Murray, who missed the game at Erith. Ricky Freeman and Williams were reunited up front and the bench looked strong. Hollands and Blair are having a terrible season with a 4-3 win against Lordswood and two draws being their only league games that have not ended in defeat. A glance at some of the names on their team sheet however suggested it would not be an easy game. They are now managed by Clint Gooding, whose playing career included a spell at Whitstable, where he was also the assistant manager to Mark Lane in 2010. Ronnie Porter, the young son of the Whitstable manager, was the mascot for the afternoon.

Mascot Ronnie Porter lines up with the captains before the start

In the 1st minute, an unfortunate slip by Tom Bryant on the halfway line left Ascheri with space to run into and he took the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area before shooting. The ball may have taken a slight deflection from one of the defenders trying to get back, but Eason dived to his right and just managed to turn the ball around the post. A few minutes later Freeman might have been fouled at the other end, but the ball found its way to Williams who shot just wide. Williams then did well on the left and crossed the ball for Morrish, whose curling shot from 20 yards was just tipped over by Louis Lawlor. Bryant went close from the corner, but after a bit of a fumble from the next corner the ball was cleared.

Dan Eason makes a crucial early save

Hollands and Blair went close when a cross by Ascheri was headed wide from an awkward angle by James McDonald. Williams and Freeman created an opening for West, but his shot was easily gathered by Lawlor. Austin Edwards picked up the loose ball after another corner and twisted and turned before shooting wide. On 16 minutes, the home side won a penalty when Walker found Freeman on the right and he was brought down as he ran towards goal. Williams stepped forward and confidently rolled the ball into the right hand corner, sending Lawlor the wrong way.

Danny Williams takes the penalty
It’s 1-0 to Whitstable

Louis Valencia shot into the side netting after a good run and he then sent a dangerous ball into the box that was well defended by Josh Burchell, who headed it out for a corner. West released Williams, who might have played the ball on to Freeman, but elected to shoot and his effort was deflected just past the post. Murray took Whitstable’s fifth corner in the 37th minute and played it short to Burchell whose cross was helped on to Williams and he in turn sent a header back across goal to Bryant, who nodded the ball past Lawlor, but the assistant had his flag raised for offside. There was one more attack from the visitors before the break that resulted in a corner that Eason punched away and the last action saw a booking for Steve Damper, who chopped down West after he had won the ball in midfield.

The ball is headed across goal…
Tom Bryant heads home, but is flagged offside

The second half started in end to end fashion with both teams having chances. Williams fired in a shot from the left edge of the box that was saved by Lawlor and then a clever ball through the home defence found McDonald, but Eason was quickly down to block his shot. After a good spell of Whitstable possession, Freeman shot well over the bar from distance. In the 50th minute, Walker made a timely interception, drove forward and played a perfect pass for Williams who stabbed the ball past Lawlor to make it 2-0. Scott Whibley was shown a yellow card by the referee as the home side were celebrating.

Danny Williams beats Louis Lawlor to make it 2-0

Whitstable were having the majority of the chances, but Simon tried his luck with a long range shot that Eason caught just under the bar. Travis Jackson, once with Whitstable, was introduced by Hollands and Blair and made a few promising runs. Bryant, who had a good game at the back alongside Rob Gillman and Craig Cloke, picked out Morrish and his ball across the box rebounded off West and went just the wrong side of the post. Another great ball by Walker was just cut out by the defence and then Williams raced down the left wing and into the box, but was unable to keep his shot down.

The ball rebounds off Stuart West and goes wide

Both teams used their full quota of substitutes with Chris Saunders, Shaun Welford and Charlie Smith coming on for Whitstable and George Keen and Ethan Stewart were the remaining introductions for the visitors, replacing Valencia and the usually dangerous McDonald. On 69 minutes Simon hit a powerful shot from just outside the box that took a slight deflection and skimmed over the top of the bar. Another mazy run by Edwards ended with a shot that was comfortable for Eason, whilst Saunders and Smith had late attempts for Whitstable, but there were no further goals and the game ended 2-0.

Ricky Freeman worked tirelessly up front for Whitstable
Mark Lane presents the man of the match award to John Walker

It is now six wins and two draws for Whitstable since their last defeat, which was at the Belmont against Cray Valley, who visit again next week for the semi-final of the Kent Senior Trophy.

Whitstable Hollands & Blair
15 Attempts 9
9 On Target 4
7 Corners 6
2 Offside 0
12 Free Kicks Won 14

Whitstable Town
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Rob Gillman, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Stuart West (Charlie Smith 82), James Morrish (Chris Saunders 66), Danny Williams, Ricky Freeman (Shaun Welford 74), Macauley Murray.
Subs (unused): Teddy Nelson, Louis Sprosen.
Goals: Danny Williams (pen) 16, 50.

Hollands & Blair
Louis Lawlor, Harvey Killick, Lewis Taylor (c), Kieran Sharp, Scott Whibley, Steve Dampier (Travis Jackson 62), Jack Simon, Louis Valencia (George Keen 77), James McDonald (Ethan Stewart 82), Justin Ascheri, Austin Edwards.
Sub (unused): Damien Hodge
Yellow cards: Steve Dampier 45, Scott Whibley 50.

Attendance: 170
Referee: Matt Charles
Assistants: Daniel Blades & Michael Skerratt