WHITSTABLE TOWN 3 SUTTON ATHLETIC 0
SCEFL Premier Division
Saturday February 18 2023 15.00
Whitstable returned to winning ways at the Belmont Ground in a good game against Sutton Athletic. Josh Oliver scored twice in the first half and Jefferson Aibangbee added a third after the break to end any chance of a comeback by the visitors, who played some neat football without causing too much alarm for young replacement goalkeeper Roman Hall.
With just two months of the season remaining, there are still several teams that Whitstable have not played and Sutton Athletic were one of them. The “Sutts” won promotion through the play offs last season, having finished runners up to Stansfeld. The teams had met once before, in the SCEFL Challenge Cup quarter finals of the 2016-17 season, when Whitstable won 4-1 away from home with goals from Kane Rowland (2), Bola Dawodu and Charlie Smith. Goalkeeper Dan Eason would have been the only survivor from that game in the Whitstable team, but was unavailable for this game, so Roman Hall came in as cover from Lewes. The Sutts have enjoyed a good start to life at Step 5 and were captained by Arlie Desanges, who also featured in that February 2017 meeting. On a mild February afternoon, it was good to see a number of visiting supporters wearing green and white among the crowd of 351. There was a late change to the home team because captain Tom Mills suffered a back problem in the warm up, so Cameron Chamberlain started alongside Will Thomas at the heart of the defence and Jake Mackenzie took the armband.
Whitstable had the better of the early exchanges, winning a couple of corners from dangerous crosses before a long shot by Conor Evans was comfortably caught by Hall at the other end in the 11th minute. Rodney Eruotor released Dean Grant on the right of the box, but he shot just over the bar. Whitstable opened the scoring in the 20th minute when a long ball forward by Chamberlain was headed out to Mackenzie on the right and he found the well timed run of Oliver who was just onside and raced forward to shoot across Joe Hyde into the far corner. There might have been an equaliser a few minutes later when the Sutts had probably their best chance of the game. A well-worked corner on the right led to a good cross by Billy Muckle being headed over the bar at the far post by Mason Simms. Oliver then ran through again after being found by Eruotor, but this time his touch allowed Hyde to intercept just before the two players collided as Oliver stretched for the ball. Neil Spencer made a good run forward before shooting over the top from 25 yards. Whitstable doubled their lead in the 35th minute when Liam Gillies and Grant combined to create a chance for Aibangbee whose shot was defected away towards the corner flag, but as the defender waited for the ball to go out, Eruotor collected it and pulled it back for Oliver to fire home from the penalty spot. There were complaints that the ball had already gone behind, but the well positioned assistant thought otherwise and the goal stood. Evans tried a shot from the edge of the box that was well blocked by Thomas, Desanges was unable to head a firm cross towards goal and another hooked effort by Evans looped to Hall as the visitors tried to respond, but Whitstable led by two at half time.
The second half began quietly, but Oliver might have completed his hat trick in the 56th minute when he played a one-two in the box with Aibangbee, but his low shot was kept out by Hyde’s boot. There was a dramatic attempt to pull a goal back a few minutes later when a free kick was helped back in from the right by Desanges to substitute Kola Salami, but his overhead kick was off target. Both managers made changes, then Whitstable scored their third on 70 minutes. Oliver was adjudged to have won the ball fairly just inside his own half and played it up to Aibangbee who was just behind George Wishart, so the flag stayed down and he ran clear to shoot past Hyde. Desanges was then cautioned for a challenge on Chamberlain and Salami was sent to the sin bin for something said. There followed numerous delays for substitutions, a red card for the away bench and an injury and yellow card for Oliver. In the 86th minute, a Mackenzie pass was collected by Gus Barnes who used his pace to escape two defenders before his shot was saved and from the resulting corner, Barnes was denied again as his header was blocked on the line by Callum Flynn with handball appeals waved away. Eight minutes were added, during which Victor Aiyelabola twice shot just wide and a rugby tackle on Barnes earned a very late card for Richie Gregory. The score remained 3-0 and Oliver was chosen as player of the match, but special mentions go to Hall and Chamberlain who both came into the team and helped to keep a clean sheet.
Whitstable are back on the road on Saturday with a trip to face Phoenix Sports for the first time since both were relegated from the Isthmian League last season, although prior to that a home friendly against Kent County League Ide Hill has been arranged for Tuesday evening.
|7||Shots on target||2|
|4||Shots off target||6|
Roman Hall, Jake Mackenzie (c), George Sheminant, Josh Oliver, Will Thomas, Cameron Chamberlain, Harry Gamble (Caoilte Deakin 82), Liam Gillies, Dean Grant (Gus Barnes 67), Rodney Eruotor (Victor Aiyelabola 67), Jefferson Aibangbee (Sammi Takaloo 83).
Sub (unused): Tom Mills
Goals: Josh Oliver 20, 35, Jefferson Aibangbee 70.
Yellow card: Josh Oliver 85
Joe Hyde, Harry Lawrence, Dominic Vincent-Edwards (Callum Flynn 82), Billy Muckle (Liam Spellward 74), Richie Gregory, George Wishart, Neil Spencer (Dan Watson 90), Theo White (Kola Salami 31), Arlie Desanges (c), Conor Evans, Mason Simms.
Sub (unused): Dan Gunner
Yellow cards: Arlie Desanges 73, Richie Gregory 90+7.
Sin bin: Kola Salami 74
Referee: Jack Smith
Assistants: Bradley Godden & Mark Cheeseman