Chalfont St Peter 0-1 Whitstable Town - We gave them a game plan today and they delivered, says Whitstable Town manager Lloyd Blackman

Saturday 28th September 2019
Chalfont St Peter 0 – 1 Whitstable Town
Location Mill Meadow, Gravel Hill, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire SL9 9QX
Kickoff 28/09/2019 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 28 September 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Mill Meadow

WHITSTABLE TOWN manager Lloyd Blackman says his players’ gave him everything after becoming the first side to come away from Chalfont St Peter with a win this season.

Right-winger John Ufuah, 20, opened his goalscoring account for Whitstable Town to snatch the victory, seven minutes into the second half to book a home tie against Ware in The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round in two weeks’ time.

Finlay Johnson’s side went into the game sitting in fourth-place in the Isthmian League South Central Division with 14 points from seven games, while Whitstable Town were in fifteenth-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with six points from their seven league outings.

Bedfont Sports, Chipstead, Hanwell Town and Bracknell Town have all come to Mill Meadow and failed to win this season and you can see why as the playing surface is bumpy and more suited to throwing about hand grenades rather kicking footballs about as the ball bounced all over the place.

“Just delighted to get your name in the hat really, that’s the key objective when you come to places that you don’t really know much about, sides you don’t really know much about,” said Blackman, who has banked £1,500 in prize money for his club with the win, while the hosts collect £500.

“You do as much due diligence as you can, as much prep as you can. It’s a game that you’ve got to take it for what it is and today I thought we did well because the pitch wasn’t fantastic and we just had to play the conditions and I thought the boys executed what we asked them really, really well.”

On becoming the first side to win here, Blackman added: “I didn’t know that stat so coming away from home, they’re having a good run themselves in the league. They’re a decent, young, energetic side and I just thought we got about them the right way and we created opportunities, not direct opportunities but I felt we stuck to our game plan. We were always going to get an opportunity and John Ufuah’s finish was fantastic!”

Whitstable Town started the game on the front foot and went close to scoring inside the opening four minutes, following their first of seven corners.

Marshall Wratten swung the ball in from the left, which was cleared back to him by the first defender and Wratten reached the by-line before whipping in a second cross, which was cleared out to Luke Girt, who hit a first time right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 22-yards.

Left-winger Wratten, whom is on loan from Vanarama National League side Dover Athletic, floated in a free-kick from the bottom far corner of the pitch, which was somewhat bumpy and Whitstable centre-half Liam Dickson rose above Chalfont St Peter’s right-back Callum Doyle to plant his header over the top of the near post from six-yards.

Mill Meadow has a wide pitch and Blackman was keen to use that width to their advantage today.

“I’ve identified areas where we felt we could exploit and put deliveries into the box, as old school as it is on a pitch like it was today,” he said.

“I’d like to see the stats of how many crosses we actually put into the box. We executed the game plan very well in that aspect.  The full-backs and the wide players and the first one from Dicko, it was a good header. A yard either side of the goalkeeper, it may have been a goal.”

While Whitstable Town were the better side during the opening exchanges, Chalfont St Peter squandered two glorious chances through winger Sean Giordmaina in the space of only 97 seconds.

Chalfont St Peter striker Kofi Quartey, who otherwise endured a frustrating afternoon as he was well-marshalled by Dickson and Tom Bryant, flicked the ball on.  Giodrdmaina flicked the ball less than five yards inside to Luke Illsley, who managed to thread the ball past Quartey and the two centre-halves to put  Giordmaina through on goal.

With only goalkeeper Dan Eason to beat, Giordmaina slid his left-footed shot across the keeper and watched the ball roll just past the foot of the far post.

Whitstable Town were given their second let off with just 22 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock wideman Ash Abdollahi slipped the ball in behind Bryant to put Giordmaina in again and this time he dragged his left-footed drive across the keeper and past the same post when he was left in space inside the box again.

Blackman said: “It was from exactly the same sort of patterns really, those two chances came from the same passage of play if that makes sense? Identical passages of play shall I say.

“We sort of left a space between the midfield and the back line and when their guy popped out we then got caught in a position of slightly backs against the walls and by the time the guy slipped one through or got a shot off, I was relieved to see it go past the post.

“I thought they were their only two opportunities especially first half that we should’ve dealt with a little bit better.  I agree they were good chances and I addressed it at half-time, those pockets in between the lines especially between the midfield and the back line of midfield, they can’t develop and they didn’t second half.”

The poor condition of the playing surface made the game lack quality as both sides were keen to get the ball up to their front men as soon as they could.

Quartey cut an isolated figure as the lone striker for the home side, while Wratten used his pace to often get past the home side’s weak link in defence, Doyle, at the other end.

Whitstable Town created a half-chance on the stroke of half-time when central midfielder Liam Gillies played the ball out to Wratten on the right, who cut the ball onto his left-foot to float over a deep cross towards the far post where unmarked striker Marcus Elliott planted his header back towards goal where Girt was lurking but Chalfont St Peter’s centre-half Asa Rixon-Nicholls put his body on the line to make the block.

Blackman said: “I don’t want to sound like a broken record.  It was our route to goal. It was the balls into the box and we’ve got good movement. We try to break lines to get midfielders into the box for the attacking phase and it was a good opportunity.

“It was a good opportunity. He was a bit unlucky not to score.  Marcus has peeled off and got himself a little bit of space and Luke Girt made that run in which we know he can do and it was another chance.”

When asked about his thoughts at the break, the Whitstable Town manager said: “I felt it was a game of game management. It was a case of we are in a cup game, we are away from home. We don’t know an awful lot about them but I thought what we were doing if we continue doing what we were doing, get balls into the box, we were going to get opportunities and that proved the case.

“It was a case of doing what you were doing but can we just have that little bit more quality, stay concentrated so we don’t switch off and give them an opportunity.”

This game was crying out for some quality and it finally arrived as Whitstable Town scored the winning goal, timed at six minutes and 33 seconds.

Wratten threw the ball short to left-back James Brown, who whipped in a deep cross, which was cleared out to Ufuah, who took a couple of touched to control the hand grenade before drilling his right-footed drive into the roof of the net, the top near corner from the edge of the box, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot as the ball flew over his left-shoulder.

“A good piece of skill from John in the second half was obviously the difference,” admitted Blackman.

“Our full-backs got into positions and areas and I wanted my full-backs to be in areas where they can deliver and you could see James Brown’s face the moment he did that. It was something that we all stuck our thumbs up with because we asked and they delivered.

“The ball comes to John on the edge of the box and he shifted it half a yard and got a good strike off and he does find himself in one-on-one situation where he’s very, very, very dangerous. His end product sometimes we have to continue to work with but I was delighted for him.”

Chalfont St Peter’s left-back Luke Elliott hit a long ball down the left-channel, where a mix-up from Whitstable right-back Jake MacKenzie let in Quartey, who hooked his right-footed shot over the top of the near post.

Chalfont St Peter concerned Whitstable Town following their second of four corners on the hour-mark.

Holding midfielder Danny Wickenden’s last contribution of the game was to swing in a corner from the right which was hooked on by Abdollahi in space at the near post and the ball whistled through a crowded penalty area to flash past the far post.

“It’s obviously a routine that’s worked on so they’ve got a blocker and a guy running in.  Someone’s got a block off but I thought we put him just under enough pressure to force him not to get a shot on target,” added Blackman.

Whitstable Town created an opening just 137 seconds later when Gillies played a short free-kick inside to Wratten, who played in a low cross towards the near post where the hard-working Elliott got in front of his man to poke his shot past the near post from inside the six-yard box.

“Our front three (Wratten, Elliott and Ufuah) worked extremely hard,” said Blackman.

“It was a direct game from us today because of the conditions and Marcus’ up there led the line extremely well. There’s still little areas that John Ufuah and Marshall Wratten can be looking at but when they’ve got the ball at their feet and running at people, they are a real threat and so was John as it proved with the goal.”

Chalfont St Peter should have equalised exactly 60 seconds later when Andre Odetola’s first time pass released substitute Kahlil Francis down the right and he reached the by-line to cut the ball back to Quartey, who poked his shot towards goal from eight-yards, forcing Eason to smother the ball as he got down low to his right.

“They’re going to be playing more direct and I just said to the boys a lax in concentration there, one ball over the top I think it was caught us out a little bit but I thought we got ourselves back in and defended well and it was a good save by Dan,” added Blackman.

Elliott sprinted down the left touchline before cutting the ball back towards the near post for Ufuah to shoot from a couple of yards out but goalkeeper Dan Purdue got lucky as he spilt the ball and grabbed it at the last second before the ball squirmed into the bottom near corner.

Chalfont St Peter continued to bang on the door as Ash Abdollahi played the ball in from the right, which was poorly cleared by Dickson and Francis cracked a left-footed angled drive sailing over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Illsley launched a cross into the Whitstable box, which was caught by Eason, before his long throw released Wratten down the left and he clipped a cross inside for Gillies, who hooked his half-volley straight into Purdue’s midriff from 22-yards.

Sanders launched eight long throws into the Chalfont St Peter penalty box during the game before his withdrawal with 19 minutes left. 

Blackman revealed: “Connor Sanders had a ballooned ankle, just an impact injury but was able to power through and battle through and just before the stroke of half-time he got a kick on it and it sort of flared it up to the point he wasn’t able to continue.

“I’m glad to have Leo Mazzone in there. His ability and his reputation speaks for itself and we’ve got to manage Leo to get to the levels we know he can and it was a nice person to come on, put it that way.”

Chalfont St Peter threw bodies forward during the final 10 minutes as they went in search of an equaliser. However, this Chalfont St Peter side need a much better pitch to play on as they have some good technical players in their ranks.

Odetola was in the centre of the pitch and he played a diagonal pass over to Abdollahi on the right. The winger cut inside to unleash a right-footed angled drive, forcing Eason to dive to his right to spill the ball out of his grasp but with the help from Dickson, Eason grabbed hold of the ball to snuff out a chance for Francis, who had made a run into the box.

“Dan has made an absolute marvellous save in the second half,” said Blackman.

“They’re throwing bodies forward and they’re gone four in attack at times and by the time they got the ball in the box, Dan is arguably one of the best keepers in the league so for him to pull off a save like that, it was kind of routine for Dan.”

Chalfont St Peter kept plugging away and almost snatched an last-gasp equaliser through their goalkeeper, following their last corner.

Abdollahi hung the ball in from the right into a crowd of players and the ball bounced off  Purdue’s left-shoulder and looped towards the roof of the net but Eason rose his right-hand to flick the ball towards safety.

Blackman added:  “They’re going to do that in the last minute! They’re going to take a punt, take a chance but I thought we dealt with those situations fairly well and from my point of view and my players’ point of view, it was a relief not to see it go in!”

Whitstable Town travel to Cray Valley in the Kent Senior Cup First Round on Tuesday night (19:45) before welcoming Three Bridges to The Belmont next Saturday 5 October (15:00), before hosting Ware in The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round seven days later (15:00).

“They’ve given me everything from an effort point of view, I can’t fault that,” said Blackman.

“We’re still looking to try to improve on it from an individual aspect to a collective aspect. We gave them a game plan today and they delivered and that for me as a coach or a manager, that’s really impressive that you can work on certain phases but on a pitch like this you turn round and go hold on a minute. This is not going to help us in that area.  The players’ are now buying into the fact that if we need to change styles we can do and that’s a real plus.”

Ware are currently in sixth-place in the Isthmian South Central Division, having banked 12 points from their six league outings and were without a game today.

“A home tie is the first thing you look for. Ware are in a very similar position than Chalfont are and we’ll do our work and prepare the best we can for it,” said Blackman.

“They’re a side we don’t know an awful lot about but we’ll prepare the best we can.”

Cray Valley, meanwhile, were in Velocity Trophy Group Nine action today, drawing 2-2 at VCD Athletic before winning 7-6 on penalties.

Kevin Watson’s men are in seventh-place in the Isthmian League South East Division with 11 points from their six league outings.

“The games coming thick and fast and it’s nice we got a win under our belt here. I felt over the last month or so we should’ve probably deserved more results,” said Blackman.

“We played Cray Valley a couple of weeks ago (drawing a league game 1-1 at home on Tuesday 17 September), so we know what they’re like and they know what we’re like. It will be a very tough game.  We’ll asses the players’ in the morning how they are injury wise.”

Chalfont St Peter: Dan Purdue, Callum Doyle (Zayd Ait-Fahim 76), Luke Elliott, Danny Wickenden (Kahlil Francis 60), Ash Rixon-Nicholls, Ricky Brennan, Sean Giordmaina, Luke Illsley, Kofi Quartey, Andre Odetolla, Ash Abdollahi.
Subs: Ben Gray, Michael Anguzu, Jordan Payne

Whitstable Town: Dan Eason, Jake MacKenzie, James Brown, Connor Sanders (Leonardo Mazzone 71), Liam Dickson, Tom Bryant, Marshall Wratten, Luke Girt, Marcus Elliott, Liam Gillies, John Ufuah (Taylor Fisher 89).
Subs: Teddy Nelson, Josh Spencer

Goal: John Ufuah 52

Booked: Liam Gillies 30

Attendance: 84
Referee: Mr Alex Mathieson (Alton, Hampshire)
Assistants: Mr James Keirs (Weybridge, Surrey) & Mr Chimango Gondwe (Purley, Surrey)