AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC 2 WHITSTABLE TOWN 4
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday January 27 2018 15.00
Whitstable edged closer to the top of the table with a good away win at AFC Croydon and only two points now separate the top four, although leaders Sevenoaks Town still have a couple of games in hand of their rivals. A strong start pushed the home team back and Chris Saunders stooped to head Whitstable in front in the 10th minute. It was soon 2-0 when a Ricky Freeman shot was parried by the Croydon goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw and Danny Williams tucked away the rebound. Croydon had offered little until Emanuel Oloyede clipped the top of the bar on 32 minutes, but for the remainder of the first half the game was more competitive and Dan Eason had to make a couple of important saves from the dangerous Nahum Green. The Rams did get themselves back into the game on 62 minutes when Luis Medina headed in a corner, but Whitstable soon wrapped up the points with two quick goals. Williams had a shot blocked by Ameyaw, but his follow up attempt found its way into the net and just a minute later he broke clear again and lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to claim his hat trick. Shaun Welford made a welcome return from injury as a late substitute, before Medina turned the ball past Eason for a late Croydon consolation goal.
It was two weeks since Whitstable had last played, due to the wet weather. James Morrish was in the middle of a three game ban and Rob Gillman, Charlie Smith and Louis Sprosen were unavailable. Stuart West dropped back into the defence and Saunders returned to the team. The Rams were in good form themselves and had won their last three league games. They started the game only two points behind Whitstable, having played one more game. The match began in damp conditions, after the usual difficult drive through heavily congested roads to the Mayfield Stadium.
Whitstable started very well and an early shot by Williams was safely gathered down by the near post by Ameyaw. Oloyede shot wildly over the top after a free kick had been knocked down into his path in the 3rd minute, but that was as close as Croydon got in the first quarter of the game. It was Whitstable who were winning the ball in midfield and an early goal always looked likely. Saunders played a one-two with Ronnie Dolan before shooting just wide. Williams did well to collect a pass and win a corner that was headed back out to the taker Josh Burchell and he swung in another cross for Freeman to head towards goal and Saunders arrived to score with a diving header in the 10th minute.
The Whitstable fans did not have to wait long for another goal as Freeman found himself in space on the left and shot powerfully at goal and although the goalkeeper managed to get across to block, the ball rebounded into the path of Williams who fired home low from around the penalty spot to make it two goals in two minutes.
It looked like more goals would follow and Freeman had another shot deflected for a corner that was almost headed in by Stuart West. Tom Bryant then headed a Macauley Murray free kick over the bar. On 20 minutes, Whitstable appealed for a penalty as Freeman went down under a challenge, but the referee was well placed and waved play on as Freeman picked himself up to shoot into the side netting from a narrow angle.
The Rams won their first corner after 20 minutes after a speculative shot hit a defender and went behind, but Eason comfortably caught the delivery from Green. A good build up down the right almost got Whitstable in again, but they were denied by a very tight offside decision. The Whitstable goal was finally threatened when a clever ball over the top picked out Oloyede on the right edge of the box and his shot bounced off the top of the crossbar. Back at the other end, a good effort by Burchell was parried by Ameyaw, who was fortunate the rebound fell safely to one of his teammates.
The home team were beginning to look more dangerous and they won a free kick just outside the box that Green struck into the wall and the ball eventually came back to Green out on the right and his fierce shot was well tipped over by Eason. Whitstable did go close from another corner, but it was Croydon that finished the half the better. A quick break, after Freeman thought he had been fouled, led to a fine dipping shot by Green that bounced awkwardly for Eason, but he did well to keep the ball out and then he made a more straightforward save from a long shot by Oloyede.
At the start of the second half, Williams, Craig Cloke and Freeman each had attempts that failed to test Ameyaw and Abbas Agoro had a shot charged down after being set up by Green. On 58 minutes the only yellow card of the game was shown to West, when the referee awarded a free kick to Croydon that was struck over the bar by Medina. Freeman met a good Burchell cross, but could not keep his header down. In the 62nd minute as Croydon waited to take a corner, Whitstable had to make a substitution with the injured Murray being replaced by academy player Teddy Nelson, who did a good job for the team in the time remaining. The defence switched off when play restarted however and Medina was allowed the space to head the corner past Eason to pull a goal back. Anyone expecting a home comeback was soon disappointed as Whitstable scored two further goals in quick succession. Some hesitation allowed Williams a chance and although his initial shot was blocked, he was first to the loose ball and had another go. It looked as though he had been denied again by the big goalkeeper, but the ball looped up off him and ended in the back of the net. Almost immediately Williams raced clear again and as Ameyaw came out, the Whitstable striker lobbed the ball over him and into the top corner to complete his 4th hat trick of the season.
Chevan Xavier nodded the ball wide as the Rams tried to respond, but Whitstable almost scored again when Dolan was fed by Williams and his ball in from the left just rolled past the far post. Croydon made two substitutions, before Oloyede controlled the ball and shot straight at Eason, then blazed another effort over the top. Whitstable introduced Shaun Welford for his first game since November, as he continues his recovery from a knee injury. He soon had a sight of goal, but shot at Ameyaw from 18 yards. That was the last piece of action for the home keeper, as he limped off to be replaced by Dan Burnett. A good cross by John Walker just needed a final touch, but no one could get on the end of it. A couple of minutes before the final whistle, Croydon did score again when Noe Vendrells Parcerisa crossed from the right and Medina did well to divert the ball into the net, as the defence went missing. There was little further action and Whitstable ran out relatively comfortable 4-2 winners. The dominant performance of the first 30 minutes was a key factor and when the home side did eventually score, two quick goals cut short any chance of a tense finish.
|12||Free Kicks Won||11|
AFC Croydon Athletic
Francis Ameyaw (Dan Burnett 81), Chevan Xavier, Sam Labinjo (Adnan Ali 73), Tom Penson (c), Aaron Leacock, Tony Martin (Noe Vendrells Parcerisa 71), Emanuel Oloyede, Abbas Agoro, Luis Medina, Ryan Fowler, Nahum Green.
Sub (unused): Wilson Ferreira Marques
Goals: Luis Medina 62, 88.
Dan Eason, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Stuart West, Craig Cloke (c), Tom Bryant, Ronnie Dolan, Chris Saunders, Ricky Freeman, Danny Williams (Shaun Welford 78), Macauley Murray (Teddy Nelson 62).
Subs (unused): Brendon Cass, Dean Ruddy.
Goals: Chris Saunders 10, Danny Williams 11, 65, 66.
Yellow card: Stuart West 58
Referee: Daniel Procter
Assistants: Ronald Albert & Joe Neanor