WHITSTABLE TOWN 1 CRAY VALLEY PM 1
BetVictor Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 17 September 2019 19.45
For the second time in a few days, a home game at the Belmont ended in a 1-1 draw and there was again a late goal, but this time it was Whitstable celebrating a stoppage time equaliser. It was a deserved reward for their efforts on the night, when both teams played well, with Whitstable playing some good football, particularly in the first half, although it was the visitors that took the lead against the run of play with a well taken goal by Francis Babalola just before half time. Whitstable never looked quite as threatening in the second half, with Cray Valley defending and managing the game well, but they kept going until the end and substitute Marcus Elliott fired home an equaliser in the last minute of added time to secure a point.
Cray Valley Paper Mills FC were formed 100 years ago and played in various junior leagues until the mills at St Pauls Cray closed at the beginning of the 1980s. They then moved to their new ground in Eltham and changed their name to Cray Valley (PM) and have made steady progress since, with last season being particularly notable as they gained promotion by overtaking Corinthian on the last day to win the SCEFL Premier Division. They also made it all the way to Wembley in the FA Vase before losing the final to Chertsey Town in extra time. The Millers have started life at Step Four well, with three wins and a draw from their first five games prior to their visit to the Belmont. They have retained the majority of their successful squad, with a few new additions. Whitstable lined up with the same starting eleven as their previous game, with Dover Athletic coach and former Whitstable manager Nicky Southall in the crowd, no doubt to keep an eye on Marshall Wratten, who was making his second appearance since joining on loan from Dover. Tom Bryant and John Walker were both unable to play.
Whitstable started the game brightly with John Ufuah making some promising runs from the right wing and it was Ufuah who had the first chance when a long Connor Sanders throw dropped for him in the box, but his shot was blocked at the near post. Aaron Millbank almost got on the end of a pass from Marcus Evans, but the Millers defence did well to close down the space. Ufuah then crossed for Millbank, who turned well but saw his left footed shot go past the far post. The visitors had looked to break on a few occasions, but their first goal attempt came in the 15th minute when a free kick was rolled across to Jack Sammoutis whose shot was well blocked on the edge of the penalty area. A good sequence of passes by Whitstable almost put Millbank through, but Andy Walker was quickly out to gather the ball. The home team continued to press and Millbank released Wratten who shot over from the left edge of the box. Wratten then turned provider on 24 minutes when, after a good run, he picked out Luke Girt in the box, but he failed to get the required connection and his effort was blocked. Ufuah put a half chance wide following another long throw and the impressive Millers defence closed down another Wratten shot.
Whitstable goalkeeper Dan Eason had to intercept a low cross by Dominic Ogun following a quick break when a Whitstable corner was headed out by Ashley Sains and then the Millers won a corner themselves that was headed down for Kalvin Morath-Gibbs, but his shot was knocked away for another corner. Whitstable fell behind in the 41st minute following a lapse in concentration, as Danny Smith sent experienced striker Babalola clear of the offside trap and he calmly slotted the ball past Eason. The home side seemed a little stunned and there was little further action of note before half time, except for a few hopeful looks in the direction of the referee when Ufuah went over in the box, so Whitstable found themselves a little unfortunately trailing 0-1 at the break to the only shot on target of the first 45 minutes, despite both teams playing some attractive football at times.
Liam Gillies started the second half in place of the injured TJ Jadama and Millbank tried an early overhead kick that flew over the bar. Evans went down with a painful knee injury and had to be helped from the pitch, with Josh Spencer coming on in his place. A dangerous Whitstable free kick was scrambled away, before Morath-Gibbs also had to depart due to injury. On 66 minutes, Sains was booked for fouling Millbank just outside the box and the resulting free kick was taken by Millbank himself, but Walker made a comfortable save by his near post. The home bench were spoken to by the referee, following an exchange of views when he overruled an assistant’s flag. Babalola then felt he had been pulled back as he raced towards the Whitstable goal, but the officials saw nothing wrong.
Whitstable sent on Elliott, who had come off the bench at Hythe a week earlier to score two late goals, to see if he could come to the rescue again. Cray substitute Emiliano Hysi set up Ogun, but his shot was blocked and then Ogun tried again, but Eason saved easily. On 86 minutes, Whitstable tried a promising corner routine, but an offside flag put an end to the chance, then Babalola broke clear at the other end, as Whitstable looked for an offside flag, but Eason did well to make the save and keep his team in the game. As the clock ticked past 90 minutes, Cray tried to slow the game down even further, keeping the ball in the corner, but when Whitstable got the ball back, a good cross-shot from distance by Spencer flew just wide. Hysi was booked for conceding a very late free kick that was carried behind for a corner. Walker got a fist to the ball as it was swung into a packed area, but it fell nicely for Elliott on the 6 yard line and he shot through the crowd into the net. There was barely time for a restart and the game ended 1-1, much to the relief of the home supporters.
The point was a just reward for a good first half display and keeping going until the end against a very competent Cray Valley team. The next game for Whitstable is a trip to face Burgess Hill, who are back in this division after suffering relegation at the end of last season.
|2||Shots on target||3|
|5||Shots off target||0|
Dan Eason, Jake Mackenzie, James Brown, Connor Sanders (Marcus Elliott 77), Marcus Evans (Josh Spencer 51), Liam Dickson (c), Luke Girt, Tijan Jadama (Liam Gillies 46), Aaron Millbank, Marshall Wratten, John Ufuah.
Subs (unused): Taylor Fisher, Harry Stannard.
Goal: Marcus Elliott 90+5
Cray Valley PM
Andy Walker (c), Kalvin Morath-Gibbs (Josh James 55), Danny Smith, Ashley Sains, Ali Tumkaya, Denzel Gayle, Jack Sammoutis, Francis Babalola, Anthony Edgar (Emiliano Hysi 77), Matthew Attenborough-Warren, Dominic Ogun (Emmanuel Oloyede 82).
Subs (unused): Kweku Ansah, Tommy Osborne.
Goal: Francis Babalola 41
Yellow cards: Ashley Sains 66, Emiliano Hysi 90+4.
Referee: Joe Mckay
Assistants: Chris Cannon & Daniel Doyle