Whitstable’s U15s Kent Youth League team moved back to the top of the table with a strong performance away at Kennington on Sunday. The match saw them notch three first half goals and return to victory after drawing at Folkestone in their last game. And it was centre-back Ollie Bunn who stole the show with a hat trick of goals - all from corners.
It was a game that Whitstable controlled from the first whistle and despite Kennington having some spells of good possession, they never looked likely to score against Town’s resolute back line.
Whitstable had the best of the chances in the opening 20 minutes with captain Archie Rumball getting a shot away, the Kennington keeper saving from Joshua Thomas-Wright from close range as he tipped onto the bar and a number of corners - ably taken by Leo Cornhill - that Kennington struggled to deal with.
And it was from a corner that Whitstable took the lead in the 14th minute. Thomas-Wright ran down the right flank winning a corner that Cornhill then swung in. The Kennington goalkeeper came to claim it but didn’t manage to hold it or push it far enough away from goal. In the scramble the followed, Bunn drilled the ball into the net to give Whitstable the lead.
The goal roused the home team however and they had their best spell of the match in the following five minute period although a solid Whitstable defence and midfield prevented them from creating any real chances. Whitstable keeper Stanley Allom was in good voice and communicated well with the back four of Bunn, Will Knoupe, Alfie Mantle and Cornhill. It was good to see the defence using Allom more during the game as a way to keep possession too and the keeper’s distribution from the back was excellent throughout the game.
Rumball, Will Derby and Alfie Hill controlled the midfield area in the first half leaving wide players Callum Groom and Thomas-Wright to roam the wings and cross in for the strikers to attack.
Dylan Richards came on for Thomas-Wright after 20 minutes as Whitstable began to increase the pressure. A number of chances followed for the away side and after 32 minutes they doubled their lead. It came from a free kick which the Kennington defence failed to deal with as striker Jake Salisbury pounced on a loose ball inside the area.
Whitstable’s dominance in the first half continued as Dylan Richards had a chance with a sharp shot following a knock down. A couple of minutes before the first period ended, Whitstable made it 3-0 with another goal from a set piece. Ollie Bunn rose highest to meet another in a series of excellent corners from Cornhill and headed home Whitstable’s third goal.
Half time: 0-3
Changes were afoot as the second half kicked off with Derby moving from midfield to centre back and Mantle, Knoupe and Rumball leaving the field to be replaced by Alex Brownett, Harrison Wade and Michael Nkereuwem respectively. Hill continued to battle in midfield and Salisbury was chasing everything down as Kennington found themselves once more under pressure.
Whitstable continued to press and after attempts on goal from Cornhill and Salisbury, Brownett won a corner after taking on a defender. From the subsequent corner Whitstable had their fourth and Bunn completed his hat trick. It was another strong header dispatched by the defender but this time it came from Groom’s well taken corner.
Kennington had regrouped at the break and were much more compact and defensively effective in the second period. They had chances too - particularly from the free kicks Whitstable gave away outside their penalty area. But Allom was never really troubled although he did have to have his wits about him and come out and claim a few loose balls as Kennington threatened to break into the box.
The final 20 minutes of the game saw Whitstable create more chances but they couldn’t put any of them away. There were also a whole host of changes in the line up of the team as the coaches rotated the players. Richards, Wade, Hill, Brownett and Mantle all went close in the final quarter of the game as the number of opportunities for Whitstable to extend their lead increased.
But despite their dominance there weren’t to be any more goals and the game ended 4 nil to Whitstable. That meant they had scored nine against Kennington without reply in their two league fixtures this season.
It was an important victory for the U15s as fellow potential title-contenders Folkestone and Herne Bay both lost and Margate didn’t play. And it means the final few games of the season should provide an entertaining end to what has been an exciting season with a number of teams still in with a chance of claiming the title.
Full time: 0-4