Skipper Barry leads by example
VCD Athletic 4-1 Whitstable Town
by Tony Rouse
If Saturday's game against new boys Sporting Bengal was a stroll in the sun for Matt Toms side, this evenings game was a toil under moonlight masterminded by VCD's captain Terry Barry, who orchestrated Town's downfall. Quite simply he was the best player on the park for either side.
He never missed a header, playing as the deepest of a four-man defence ensuring his side defended from the halfway line, more to the point he never gave the ball away and led the line, encouraging words one minute, the bark of a sergeant
major the next.
The game started at a pace, which would not have been possible a few hours earlier as the temperature still hovered around the 25 degrees mark, even at 7.45. It was hardly a cool evening and the home side certainly served up a hot
reception for Town in their new temporary home at Lordswood's ground.
VCD pressed and could have gone ahead as early as the 5th minute but it was Town who nearly scored first after Marc Seager's superb corner was met on the volley by John Utterson at the far post, but he shot wide. Utterson again went close before the home side scored after a complete mix up between Town's Daryl Bartholomew and Scott Wilkins; who both missed with tackles, Wilkins managed to catch the player and not the ball the Ref awarded a penalty; John Maine duly converted to put the home 1-0 up in the 28th minute.
That was the seventh penalty conceded by Whitstable in just seven games, six have been in the friendlies now one in the league.
Within minutes Dominic Harkin put Town level after his determined run at the defender and VCD's keeper David Pike caused confusion, the young wingback was rewarded with the ball breaking free which he slotted home to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Seconds later Harkin nearly notched his second after he battled down the right but this time shot wide. VCD's John Maine then scored the goal of the evening, his powerful run from midfield capped off with a fine strike past the diving Tony Renolds.
Five minutes later and a shell shocked Renolds was picking the ball out of his net after Clayton Probetts strike from fully 30 yards deceived Renolds in the air, the young keeper though the ball was going wide but nestled in the top right hand corner of his net.
A couple of changes and Town seemed more able to cope with the flying formation of Maine, Bates, Arnold and Matt Russell, at time VCD played with a three then a four such was their midfield dominance.
John Maine nearly put the game beyond Whitstable; his shot after good work by Renolds was off target. Steve Smith for once getting into the opposition penalty box nearly grabbed one back for Town after firstly shooting high and wide then
was denied by a flying save from Pike, his neat header deserved more reward.
Just when Whitstable looked as if they might take some semblance of pride from the game Chris Arnold beat two Whitstable defenders at the far post to head home from Maine's cross. At 4-1 VCD's captain Barry locked up his defence and though Town huffed and puffed it came to nought, three players receiving yellow cards on what was a night of frustration for Whitstable.
Disappointed though Town must be, it could be a good thing is that it happened so early in the season, they have the time to change things and learn from nights like these.
A lot of players in the red of Whitstable know they under performed, they were not quick enough to the ball, their distribution was poor when they had the ball; giving it away too cheaply has to be top of the managers' list.
All the friendlies are history, its now about points, about battling for the ball, more so its about winning and Whitstable came off second best to a VCD's Barry's master-class in the second game of the season, there is still time.