Saltdean United Just About Seen Off As City Enjoy Vase Progress
By Kevin Olver
A close run thing in the end as a determined City hang in under pressure to squeak narrow victory
Canterbury City 2 Saltdean United 1
City made it though to the next round of the FA Vase with this tight win at home to Saltdean. In the end it was somewhat more difficult than it probably should have been with City seemingly cruising to a two goal victory when the visitors clawed one back in the ninety-third minute, still leaving a nervous four minutes for City to last out for victory.
City were immediately on the front foot from the word go and went close to taking an early lead. Some great work to start the move saw Remell Davis float the ball out to the right where he found Josh Froggatt and after he had sped forward, his low cross saw a step-over from Jordan Casey in the box and the ball come though to James Turner but his shot hit the foot of the post before it spun away to safety.
City soon attacked again and Casey was inches from threading Davis clean through on goal, but Saltdean were quick to respond and a corner from their left into the near post took a deflection before flashing across the City goal to the relative safety of a throw-on.
On twelve minutes, the visitors should have opened the scoring when Toby House was denied by a great blocking save from City keeper Jack Delo, but the striker really should have done better with the rebound, but instead of turning the ball home, he hoofed it well over the bar from close in and a golden chance was lost.
City were continuing to press forward though and another run down the right from Froggatt - which involved a sweeping one-two with Dave Pilcher - saw another low cross just intercepted by keeper Nathan Stroomberg as City forwards chased it in. James Turner then won the ball in midfield before feeding Davis whose fierce shot was spilled by the keeper as Froggatt alert and following in then saw his shot deflected away for a corner from which Lawrence Harvey saw his header cleared off the line.
Casey then saw his header from a Froggatt cross drift wide as he couldn't quite find the power needed to keep the ball on target but City's persistence was soon to pay off when in the thirty-ninth minute they took a deserved lead. Froggatt won the ball just inside his own half and was soon on the move, through the midfield and then the defence beating two or three challenges on the way before rifling an unstoppable shot in to the net away from the diving Stroomberg for 1-0.
Saltdean responded quickly, a long shot was deflected out for a fruitless corner, while a minute later, House - in what looked like a very promising position, turned in the City box but curled his shot away from goal and it rolled harmlessly wide. With two minutes of the half to go, City should have extended their lead when firstly Casey's shot was blocked by the keeper and then Davis, following in, took a moment too long to shift the ball from one foot to the other and a massive gap in front of him to the goal was snapped shut as he was crowded out and the chance was lost.
There was still time for Saltdean to have another strike on goal when a low free-kick was arrowed straight through the wall at Delo who claimed the ball at the second attempt.
A busy first-half ended with City just shading it and a goal ahead.
City restarted by far the brighter and created several opportunities before Saltdean had really got going. Froggatt shot at Stroomberg when well placed, probably surprised that the ball across from Casey hadn't been cut out as a defender missed the chance to do so, Davis then dribbled into the box before turning and seeing his shot deflected away where it fell to Casey whose effort was also blocked out, this time for a corner. Another shot from Davis was straight at Stroomberg as City continued to search for a vital second goal.
A flurry of activity on and off the pitch for the visitors then saw a double substitution and a long range shot screwed horribly wide, before they actually went close to scoring when one of the substitutes - Ben Bacon saw his shot bundled past the post at full stretch by Delo as it bounced up in front of him.
The game suddenly opened up as the visitors pushed forward in search of a much needed equaliser and City sought to take advantage of any gaps as they did so. Fortunately, on sixty-two minutes it was the latter that came to fruition as after a short period of end to end cup football, the ball was won in midfield by City and lifted up and over the Saltdean defence. With players appealing for an offside flag that was never going to come, James Turner remained cool, pulled the ball out of the air and with some exceptional awareness and his back to goal flicked it over his own head and in doing do, floated the ball over the advancing Stroomberg leaving him totally stranded and helpless as the ball bounced and rolled into an empty net for 2-0.
City were now in a great situation and just needed to see the rest of the game out. Several minutes passed as Saltdean's hurry and flurry tried desperately to find a way back into the game while City just tried to control things and stop them doing so. Game management came to the fore during which Delo was somewhat harshly booked for time wasting, while Rob Lawrence came on to replace Turner and an injured Casey hobbled off to be replaced by Josh McCallum.
Several stoppages broke the game up during which the referee took time to speak to both benches and issue more yellow cards than the game and play probably warranted and pompted one visiting supporter to suggest that it was actually the referee that was guilty of most of the time wasting!
Saltdean though had plenty of possession in the remaining time but struggled to break City down and just couldn't get the ball into the final third of the pitch. City were happy to sit back and repel their opponents and look to catch them on the break. Doing this saw Davis shoot straight at Stroomberg, while Adam Woollcott closed the ball down and won it and laid it off to final City substitute Max Brunetti-Leach whose effort was saved by the keeper who then got up quickly to deny Froggatt with the follow up.
Even at this late stage and with a two goal deficit, the visitors, to their credit, frantically tried to get back into the game. An attacking free-kick was blocked in the wall by a leaping Pilcher, before Saltdean's chance to pull something off seemed to have disappeared when in the ninety-second minute, the ball fell nicely in the box for Bacon, but his composure deserted him as he could only launch it over the bar from close range.
Still they came forward though, throwing more caution to the wind and a minute later, a corner was cleared by the City defence but the ball was sent back in and a glancing header looped over a diving Delo and nestled in the far side of the net for 2-1 and maybe some late hope for the visitors.
On the game continued and in the last frenetic few minutes James Waters had a shot blocked, an on-target flicked header was just about shoved to safety by Delo under some pressure, while another huge ball into the City box was more efficiently cleared by Delo before finally, on ninety-seven minutes, the referee called time and a rather relieved City were left to enjoy their victory and their progress into the next round.
Credit to them for hanging on at the end, but also to Saltdean who pushed them all the way and would probably now be ruing the fact that they had left it so late to be so effective going forward.
Final score: Canterbury City 2 Saltdean United 1
City, Jack Delo, Michael Turner, James Nurden, Adam Woollcott, Laurence Harvey, Gary Sayer, Dave Pilcher, Remell Davis (Max Brunetti-Leach), Jordan Casey (Josh McCallum), James Turner (Rob Lawrence), Josh Froggatt
Unused Subs: Dan Keyte, Tom Barton