Thursday 01st September 2005

Wasted chances cost Whitstable victory

Whitstable Town  0-0 Deal Town (att: 143)
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August 2003
by Peter Rouse

When both side fail to force the opposition keeper into a worthwhile save and the best chances for both sides are shots saved by the woodwork you get some idea of what the game was like to watch. However it was entertaining in a strange way, plenty of midfield action then waiting for the either side to make just the one mistake, the slip that would lead to a goal. It was that type of game.

First blood almost went to Deal after 15 minutes of sparring when the woodwork saved Town after a cross cum shot by Scott Sutton Foster drifted across Tony Reynolds goal and clipped his crossbar.  Then it was the visitors turn to touch wood for luck, Scott McRoberts well struck 30-yard belter beat Sam Gibbons in Deal's goal struck the underside of the crossbar and amid shouts of goal from around the ground; bounced off the goal line and into play.

As Whitstable pressure started to build Andy Gelding hauled down Whitstable's nippy Dominic Harkin inside the area; but shouts of a penalty were waved away by the ref as Whitstable struggled in vain to get behind Deal's defence. John Utterson looked out of sorts after his two goals on Saturday; Steve Smith misread a couple of passes to frustrate both supporters and management alike as chances went begging. In midfield, Town's captain Marc Seager, intent on scoring against his old club tried just that little too hard, instead of simple guile and finesse Whitstable tried to over elaborate in the last quarter time and again, a pattern which was to last the whole game.

Half Time: Whitstable 0 Deal 0

There were moans around the ground when Utterson, who picked up an ankle injury late in the first half failed to reappear for the second, he was replaced by midfielder Gary Hemens amid fears of a lack of Whitstable firepower upfront. These fears proved well founded, not that the young wingback Harkins on one side and McRoberts the other, with Smith up front lacked any commitment, it just needed a cool head to find one of the myriad of passes that were slipped into the six yard area. Problem was there was rarely a red shirted Whitstable player to add the killer blow. At the back Whitstable were steadied by the ever cool headed pairing of Dale Wicketts and Andy Kier who quelled any real threat by the visitors shot shy attack.

The woodwork saved Deal again in the second half; the burly Darrel Bartholomew's left footed drive skimming the post and flew away for a corner. Harkins went close, Deal's keeper Gibbons just beating him to the ball, Smith mistimed with a
header, Micky Lane bubbled in midfield, but it all came to nothing. When Whitstable did manage to get into the area with a worthwhile shot; Deal Town's Tom Stephens came to the visitors rescue, which he was called upon on more than a couple of occasions with last ditch blocks or tackles.
Whitstable's captain Marc Seager tried every move in his ever-expanding book of tricks but even he could not find a way through a locked tight Deal defence. Smith looped a shot, which beat the advancing Gibbons who was a yard or two off
his line but was just too strong and cleared the crossbar by an inch or two. Andy Kier charging forward sent in a superbly weighted cross, which Seager failed to make contact with at the far post when the slightest of nicks would have been the games winner.

All Whitstable? Well to be honest yes, particularly second half but it was the sort of game that you felt either side could nick a goal, Tony Reynolds saving bravely from the feet of two Deal players in the 90th minute in almost the last kick of the game to keep the score at nil apiece.