Rochester United 0-4 Whitstable Town - We've still got a chance of winning the title, says promoted Whitstable Town boss Scott Porter

Wednesday 25th April 2018
Rochester United 0 – 4 Whitstable Town
Location Rede Court Road, Strood, Rochester, Kent ME2 3TU
Kickoff 25/04/2018 19:45

ROCHESTER UNITED  0-4  WHITSTABLE TOWN
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 25 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Rede Court Road

WHITSTABLE TOWN boss Scott Porter says his side have still got a chance of grabbing the title after sealing promotion with an easy victory over basement side Rochester United.

Micky Collins guided Sevenoaks Town in to the Bostik League for the first time in their history after coming away from Corinthian with a 2-1 win last night, while Whitstable Town made it a return following a two-year absence after extending their impressive club record unbeaten run to 27.

Striker Danny Williams scored twice inside the opening 23 minutes to take his goalscoring tally to 28 for the season, before Charlie Smith chipped in his ninth of the campaign early in the second half before Academy striker Reece Brain scored his maiden goal for the first team before running over to the bench to celebrate his achievement with Porter.

“Proud man, proud of my boys, they’ve worked so hard,” said Porter, who has now guided Hythe Town and now Whitstable Town out of this division.

“A lot of people doubted us because of the fixtures but the club deserves it.  If we didn’t get promoted, I would’ve failed.  I said that to the chairman at the start of the season.  If we didn’t get promoted, it’s down to me.

“I’ve got the right players in, they’ve got the right mentality and everyone works their socks off for this club.

“Joe Brownett, the chairman, has come back into the fold, stabilised everything, it’s a family club and I’m just proud of everyone involved in the football club.

“It’s an amazing record.  I think the last defeat was 16 December (when we lost 2-1 at home to Cray Valley), so to go right the way through to the next of April with the amount of games we’ve had, every other day we’ve been playing, to do what we’ve done is a massive achievement.

“It was an uphill task. We were miles away from Sevenoaks, miles away from teams and to turn it around with the amount of games and win a cup (Kent Reliance Senior Trophy) as well and we’ve got another chance of winning another cup (Challenge Cup).

“I haven’t changed the squad, I’ve kept the same players for a long, long time and those boys deserve so much credit because they’ve worked so hard.”

Sevenoaks Town with 82 points in the bag will claim the title with a win at bottom-four side Erith Town at the weekend, while Whitstable Town closed the gap to just three points, while Crowborough Athletic must settle for a third-place finish with 69 points with three games left.

This was a game that Whitstable Town bossed and they should have won by more than four goals against a Rochester United side that have struggled during a miserable campaign and they host Crowborough Athletic on Saturday rooted to the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League table with 16 points.

Joint-managers Paul Gross and Darren Anslow took charge of Rochester United on Monday 6 November 2017 with the club rooted to the basement with five points from 13 games after Matt Hume then Ian Varley failed to get the season off on the front foot.

Rochester United had players out on the pitch tonight that were out of their depth, lacked leadership and must rebuild in the First Division after their ending their six season spell in the top-flight.

“It’s their night, it’s about what they’ve done tonight really not about us, we are where we are,” said Anslow after the club suffered their 27th league defeat of a miserable campaign.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, congratulations to them.  I was at Hythe with half of their players so congratulations to them, congratulations to Sevenoaks for last night.

“We haven’t played the same team for two games running, players have been making excuses.  There’s no excuse, we had time to get out of it but again it’s difficult when you ain’t got a lot and players make excuses sometimes about why they can’t be here and you’re scratching around but that’s where we are and it’s down to us to try to sort it out!”

Whitstable Town started on the front foot and they took the lead with only seven minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Chris Saunders played the ball along the deck into Shaun Welford’s feet and he played in Williams, who cut in and left Rochester central defender Temitope Eweka on his backside before cutting the ball onto his right-foot before stroking his shot across the keeper and into the net from eight-yards.

“No disrespect, we knew we were going to get a result tonight but it was a matter of when and how many we were going to do,” said Porter, who made four changes to the side that beat AFC Croydon Athletic 3-0 at home 48 hours earlier.

“Danny’s good when he faces people, he’s a danger.  We keep telling him to do that and he’s got his rewards with that goal tonight. It was good to get an early one because once we got the first one, we didn’t look like losing.”

Anslow said: “Listen, you know what you’re going to get when you play Whitstable.  They battle, you know how they’re going to play, the way they set up.  We knew what they were going to do. We just weren’t strong enough. We weren’t competitive.  I wouldn’t say competitive, they’re young boys and they’ve got a lot to learn.”

Rochester captain Andy Pierce used his arm to bring down Tom Bryant’s long ball out of Whitstable’s defence and Josh Burchell swung in the resulting free-kick, which was met by Ted Nelson’s header, which was dropped by keeper Tony Coxall and after a scramble Welford lashed his left-footed drive over from eight-yards.

“When you’re in our position to russell up 11-13 players, it’s been difficult so respect to the boys who have turned up every week and there’s a group of five or six of them and Andy Pierce is one of those, Dan Nash is one of those, Tony Coxall in goal.

“When things haven’t gone well, they haven’t made excuses, they haven’t hidden and they haven’t not turned up and there’s plenty that have, so from that point of view Pierce is a proper Rochester player.  He’s one of those boys, he’s always been here so he deserves a bit of credit.  You kind of wished you had 11 of them!”

Whitstable’s right-wing-back John Walker floated in a free-kick which was met by Saunders at the near post but his free header was clawed away by Dartford’s third-choice keeper at his near post.

“A couple of decent saves, I expect him to make them to be fair,” said Anslow, a goalkeeper during his playing days.

“He’s done well in the last couple of games. He’s a young keeper. I’ve spoken to him about what I think he needs to work on to make him get to another level but he’s showing bits he needs to keep progressing.”

Burchell floated in a free-kick in the 20th minute and Bryant came up from the back to send his downward header past the far post.

It was therefore no surprise when the vocal travelling fans were celebrating their sides second goal of the night, timed at 22 minutes and 14 seconds.

It was a trademark Porter goal.

A big kick from keeper Nick Shaw was flicked on by Charlie Smith and Williams caressed a right-footed volley over the keeper from 12-yards, dropping perfectly into the bottom far corner.

Porter said: “Run onto things, run into channels and he’s got his reward.  We just needed to keep scoring, just to take a bit more pressure off and to just make it easier as we can.”

Anslow added: “All the goals are the same aren’t they, all four goals were the same pretty much! It wasn’t a secret. We knew what they were going to do, we’ve got to stop them doing it, you just have to deal with it!

“With a lot of the younger players, it might open their eyes tonight and need to listen to what they’re told to do, make sure they’re physically strong , get on the cover, help each other out.”

Whitstable striker Welford was denied by a fine double save from Coxall in the 32nd minute after Shaw’s kick was flicked on by Williams and the 19-year-old keeper moved to his left twice to make vital saves.

Anslow said: “Again, another good save, he’s played well again tonight. He can improve, he knows it.  I’ve told him he’s done well over the last couple of games. His shot stopping is decent, his kicking is decent. There’s other things he's got to work on. When he gets older he’ll become a little bit more vocal.  I spoke to him about his starting position, commanding his six-yard box but I’m sure it will come.”

“He’s disappointed with himself Welford, he should’ve put that away but the keeper’s made two good saves,” added Porter.

“To be fair I thought the keeper weren’t great from crosses but shot-stopping, it could’ve been four or five at half-time but he kept them in the game.”

Burchell was putting in some lovely crosses and after Bryant and Rob Gilman had low shots blocked inside the penalty area and Rochester failed to clear their lines, Gilman’s shot was blocked by Coxall at his near post and Stuart West rolled his shot past the foot of the far post from a tight angle.

Welford played the ball out to Burchell, who hit a deep 60-yard diagonal cross which was met by Williams’ header, which he couldn’t keep down at the far post from six-yards.

Rochester United have used 73 players this season and were a poor outfit tonight and created nothing in the final third during a one-sided first half, sorry one-sided game.

“Just finish the job, just finish the job,” was Porter’s rallying cry at half-time.

“The next goal was important because if they get it then you’ve got to pick yourself back up.  We just wanted to keep playing the way we were playing, it’s got us to where we are now, so to continue that and get the next goal and to be fair it was a good goal.”

Anslow said: “It’s a young side, it’s not an excuse because teams play with young sides and it was trying to reinforce what we said to them at the start of the first half.  You know what they’re going to do.  You have to match them physically and help each other out, you can’t hide, there’s no hiding place.”

Whitstable Town killed the game off by scoring their third goal with two minutes and 58 seconds on the second half clock.

Welford ran the right channel and put over a cross, which was flicked on by Walker at the near post and Smith produced a sublime right-footed chip that dropped in underneath the crossbar from 12-yards.

“He’s got in the box at the right time and he’s scored some crucial goals in the last couple of weeks and it’s a great goal. It takes the pressure off and it kills the game really,” said Porter.

Anslow said: “All that chat and we conceded on 48!  Again, it’s the same type of goal again. We’re having the same conversation.  Listen, they’re the best at the way they play so what’s quite interesting you’ve got two teams at the top of the league, both play very different styles of football. It just shows there’s not a right way or a wrong way.  They’re both up there, both competing doing what they do with good players. I know a lot of the Sevenoaks players really well. They’re two good sides and the league doesn’t lie. They’re the two sides who deserve to be up there.”

Diminutive Rochester right-winger Shingirai Chiriseri showed plenty of promise with some pacy runs down the flank but this game was evidence that Rochester lacked leadership and quality all around the park as they took 64 minutes to create their first chance.

Daniel Nash played a ball inside to Marlon Peter-Brown and the holding midfielder found a pocket of space just outside the penalty area but his shot was poor and Shaw made a comfortable low save.

“He didn’t trouble him, the shot didn’t trouble him,” admitted Anslow.

“He ain’t a bad keeper. We played them the other week and he was very good, very quick off his line. He’s been out of the game for a long period and he’s made a great save at the end there.”

But Peter-Brown and Donnell Anderson, who operated at the top end of the midfield diamond, will have to adapt if they are to cope with this level of football after coming out of National League club Bromley’s Academy.

Anslow said: “It’s a good learning experience for them because as much as Academy football is good, Academy football is not like that. They’re not going to come across Shaun Welford or Chris Saunders, those type of players in Academy football so from their point of view it’s probably a good thing for them and you’re hoping they take it on.”

Porter added: “Nick had nothing to do, well up until then and it was comfortable – but that goes with the people in front. We had a job to do tonight and we worked so hard. The back four are immense.  You only have to look at the number of clean sheets we’ve got. It does make it easy for a goalkeeper but they didn’t cause us any problems.”

Rochester United created another chance just 53 seconds later when Chiriseri crossed low from the right and Nash spooned his first time shot over the crossbar from a couple of yards inside the Whitstable penalty area.

Williams squandered a glorious chance to net his hat-trick inside the final 20 minutes.

Burchell found space down the left channel to whip in another great cross for an unmarked Williams to plant his header down into the ground and watch it loop up and over the crossbar from six-yards.

“We had a couple of chances. We said in there shoot with your left foot because then you get a bit more joy but he’s worked hard tonight,” said Porter.

“I was trying to rest him for Saturday but he wanted to stay on and get his hat-trick, rightly so. He had a couple of chances but it didn’t happen.”

Whitstable Town went route-one again for their fourth goal, which was timed at 38 minutes and 8 seconds on the clock.

Walker hit a long ball out of defence and released Williams straight through the heart of the pitch. He appeared to be nudged by the advancing Coxall but the ball came to Brain, who produced a clever finish, drilling his right-footed shot into the top far corner from a tight angle.

Porter said: “Danny’s done all the hard work! I said to Reece go on and score a goal because they’re good lads from the Academy.  It’s good experience for him in this side because we’ve got experience and to be fair it’s a great finish in the corner. It was good that he came over to me because he appreciates the game time and the involvement so it was good and I was chuffed for him.”

Anslow said: “I tell you what I’m disappointed with, I don’t think we competed in that area. I felt we had the ball and tried to play, lacking a bit of quality but trying to play. It’s not what we set out to do. We’re just off the cuff but they tried to play. We lost the ball and it was like bang and we weren’t dealing with that and that’s the issue tonight. We just haven’t dealt with it. They’re good at it, they got behind us and they haven’t mucked around with the finish!”

Rochester’s best chance of the night came a couple of minutes into stoppage time.

Chiriseri played a low pass inside to substitute right-back Kieron Mulkerrins, who teed up Nash, whose right-footed curler from 30-yards was destined for the top far corner, only for Shaw to dive to his left to push around for a corner.

Anslow said:  “I’ll tell you what I’ll say something about Nash. Since I’ve come here he could play at any club I’ve played at. He doesn’t moan.  You can ask him to go left-back, right-back, centre midfield. If anyone comes out this season with any praise from this club it’s someone like him. He’s been exceptional all season. He’s a good player, he can finish. He scored a great goal the other night in very similar circumstances. 

“It was a great save.  He’s been out of the game for 89 minutes so to still be alert it would’ve been easy not to get there, he’s done well.”

Porter added: “It was a great save because he had nothing to do all game but he's come in and done a job because Dan Eason is struggling a little bit with the amount of games we’ve had so we just tried to freshen things up and I’ve done that tonight.

“We have rested a lot of players tonight so it shows how good the squad is really and I can rely on everyone and it’s got us where we are now.”

This was Whitstable’s tenth game in 21 days and Porter is delighted that promotion was secured tonight – but he wants to grab the league title out from Sevenoaks Town’s grasp.

“These boys, the amount of games we’ve had and they go and work every day and they go home and keep running and running and running. I’m a proud manager.  I’m proud for the fans because it deserves to be where it is because it had a bad spell, a bad time but I was brought in to do this and I said I would do it!  If I didn’t do it, I would’ve failed.

“My coaching staff have been fantastic, the whole club is great, the fans are superb, they deserve it. The committee deserve it, the chairman deserves it and as a whole it’s a great night for the football club.

“It’s up there, of course it is. I done it at Hythe but to do it at another club at this level again and with the cups as well.  We haven’t finished yet! We still want to win the other cup. We want to go unbeaten as well.

“We still want the title but I’ll take promotion especially looking back in December. It’s up there, it’s up there, it’s an achievement from everyone involved in this football club.”

Porter takes his side to sixth-placed Cray Valley on Saturday and ninth-placed Lordswood next Monday with one focus, before playing Tunbridge Wells to contest the Challenge Cup Final in Tonbridge on 5 May.

“I want to win all three, we’ve set ourselves up to do that because we’ve still got a chance of winning the title but we’ve crossed the line today, promotion and we’ll move on to the next task and that’s trying to win the title.”

Completing their campaign at home to Crowborough Athletic on Saturday, Anslow said: “There’s no easy games, it’s about this club getting this season over and done with.”

Rochester United: Tony Coxall, Kieron Simms (Kieron Mulkerrins 63), Ralph Katikaza, Marlon Peter-Brown, Andy Pierce, Temitope Eweka, Shingirai Chiriseri, Donnell Anderson (Rion-Noel McFarlane 49), Jack Healey, Daniel Nash, Merrick Simms.
Sub: Owen Price

Whitstable Town: Nick Shaw, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Tom Bryant, Rob Gilman, Ted Nelson, Chris Saunders (Owen Fitt 69), Stuart West, Shaun Welford (Reece Brain 77), Danny Williams, Charlie Smith.
Subs: Craig Cloke, Ricky Freeman, Louis Sprosen

Goals: Danny Williams 8, 23, Charlie Smith 48, Reece Brain 84

Attendance: 93
Referee: Mr Stuart Marriott (Ashford)
Assistants: Mr Steven Tunnicliffe (Maidstone) & Mr Joshua Marshall (Welling)

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EMAIL STEPHEN McCARTNEY:
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