City In FA Vase Victory at The Withdean
By Kevin Olver
City progress to the next round of the FA Vase with two superb strikes as they overcome AFC Varndeanians 2-0.
Canterbury City 2 AFC Varndeanians 0
A hard working but confident victory saw City safely through to the First Round Proper of this season's FA Vase. They were on top for most of the game and despite not taking some good chances in the first half, a couple of well taken goals in the first part of the second half were just too much for Varndeanians who never really looked likely to mount a comeback.
City started brightly, knocking the ball around well and winning the majority of the loose balls and the fifty-fifty tackles. They soon looked to have just a little too much quality and physicality for their opponents and left the hosts at times chasing the ball and endlessly appealing after any contact.
City created two great early chances but on both occasions failed to hit the target. In the tenth minute, a ball chipped forward into the home box saw James Turner chase it down but as keeper Tom Bradford came out to close the striker down, he slid his effort past him but also just the wrong side of the post. Just a couple of minutes later, the same fate befell Jordan Casey as a whipped in cross from the left from the lively Kane Phillip saw the ball headed high straight up in the air by a defender and as it came back down, Casey was the only one to react, jumping well but planting a free header also, just the wrong side, this time of the other upright.
Phillip was looking the most likely provider for City as he continuously twisted and turned his way through the home midfield and defence to get the visitors going forward, but the next 'chance' fell to the home side when the prolific Matt Waterman struck a hopeful and hugely optimistic thirty-yarder well wide of the City goal.
City continued in their bright and industrious manner and almost opened the scoring on eighteen when Dave Pilcher made a lovely feint in midfield - completely bamboozling his marker - before sending a crashing shot goalbound only to see Bradford dive across and push it aside with an 'at full-stretch' save. Another opportunity came and went a minute later when Pilcher won the ball in midfield, forced his way through and curled the ball in which eventually ended up with Turner who could only shoot straight at Bradford.
City were very productive but with several missed chances already and some rather needless offsides going against them, they weren't turning that productivity into goals. Although Ben Whitely shot wide for the hosts, it was still City looking the most likely to score, if only by pure weight of chances. Another City shot was then deflected out wide but as the ball came back in, a defender slid in with a last gasp interception as Turner was poised to just slot it home. The resultant corner then saw Liam Quinn head wide.
Varndeanians weren't allowed much progress going forward by a tight and solid City defence but Dom Henblade did bring the ball down well before striking a fierce shot a couple of yards past the City angle. On thirty-three minutes there was another 'should-have' moment for City when Casey pounced on a loose ball out wide, surged through to the by-line before pulling the ball back well only to see Turner strike his on-the-run, first-time effort well over the bar.
A corner just before the break saw Laurence Harvey head wide from distance for City, but for all their dominance, the visitors had to then survive a couple of scares as the half-time whistle approached. Firstly, Whitely received a ball at the far post only to strike it into the side-netting when well placed and then when Ollie Blackman saw his far post header from a corner go just wide.
City were well on top at the break, but with plenty of missed chances to dwell on and two presentable ones just missed by their opponents, the game was worryingly still in the balance.
Any City nerves were soon settled though as they took an early second-half lead. Joe Nelder had already swung a first-time shot narrowly wide from a City free-kick routine before in the forty-eighth minute Adam Woollcott put City in front with a great goal. An attack down the right engineered by some skilful play from Phillip, saw the ball played across and eventually falling to Pilcher whose shot from the edge of the box was charged down, but the ball rebounded out and was sweetly struck, first-time, low and hard by Woollcott from twenty-five yards and it zipped across the turf, through several bodies and in to the bottom corner of the net, well out of the reach of Bradford's despairing dive for 1-0.
The home side responded with a weak effort from Waterman, which was easily saved by City keeper Jack Delo and probably also his first serious involvement in the game, but then on fifty-nine minutes, City ultimately made the game safe when they scored their second with a brilliant solo effort from Casey. A quick throw down the right saw him receive the ball and twist and turn past at least three defenders before bearing down on goal and drawing the keeper and another defender to him. As the angle narrowed he unerringly slotted the ball home past both them and two other players charging back and into the far side of the net for 2-0 - a fabulous individual goal.
Even with half an hour still to go, City's lead, with the way the game had gone, just needed protecting. Varndeanians hadn't sparked at all up front - which was as much to the credit of City's tight and solid defensive play as anything else and from then it was all about City's ability to manage the game to it's conclusion. The home side tried to hurry things along and for a while injected some urgency, but they never really looked to have the quality or the wherewithal to mount a serious comeback.
Casey almost wriggled his way through again for City, but this time Bradford denied him with a decent spreading block while substitute Josh Froggatt's follow up effort was charged down on the line just as the offside flag went up. Pilcher struck a free-kick over the wall but straight at Bradford, while Froggatt fired over on the volley.
In the eighty-third minute, Harry Garnham thumped a free header a foot over from a corner for Varndeanians, but that was City's only scare since doubling their lead as they remained organised and solid to see the game out and progress through to the next round.
As it turned out, it was a comfortable afternoon for City in the imposing heat and surroundings of the Withdean Stadium which was well earned by a composed and professional display and two superb goals.
Final score: City 2 Varndeanians 0
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Gary Sayer, Laurence Harvey, Liam Quinn, Adam Woollcott, Kane Phillip (Josh Froggatt), Dave Pilcher (Rob Lawrence), Jordan Casey (Arlie Desanges), James Turner, Joe Nelder.
Unused Subs: Dan Keyte, James Nurden.