City Fall to Narrow Defeat at Home to Crowborough
City lose to the only goal of the game as the visitors time waste their way to scrappy victory
Canterbury City 0 Crowborough Athletic 1
A bitterly cold evening saw Crowborough win ugly with City frantically at the end trying to find an equaliser, but with the visitors taking the art of time-wasting and delaying tactics to hitherto unseen heights, it was they who left with all three points.
It was Crowborough who started the stronger and the first saves of the evening were all made by City keeper Jack Delo firstly dealing with a long, low shot fired straight at him, then a blocking save as City appealed unsuccessfully for an offside flag and then a better spreading save deflecting the ball up and over his own bar as the visitors almost caught City napping with a quick throw.
It was Crowborough doing most of the attacking as another effort was blocked wide by the City defence and with several corners being well dealt with it was becoming a frustrating evening for them and a barrage of complaints from the bench to the officials quickly revealed their mood.
It was twenty-three minutes before Crowborough keeper Dan Ellis was forced into a save of any sort with a comfortable stop from a Laurence Harvey header but shortly after, the visitors thought they had taken the lead when a free-kick, headed home from close range was ruled out for offside.
City, already with a depleted squad, were then forced into an early change when the injured Darren Marsden was replaced by Tom Barton and with Ross Treleaven firing just wide for Crowborough, it was they who finished the goalless first half looking the more likely to score.
The restart saw City now also getting into their attacking stride and there was goalmouth action at both ends, but with a couple of blocks and a mini-scramble, no real clear cut chances were created by either side - epitomised by a far post ball which found Henry Mugridge in good space but his first-time volley was high and not very handsome over the City bar.
Crowborough pressure was to soon tell though as a quick clearance from the back, saw a darting break down the left and a ball along the edge of the box saw Trevor McCreadie given far too much time to think and he thumped the ball past Delo for 0-1.
A long shot from Mugridge then took a City deflection and flew out for a corner, from which Delo made another save before Matt Martin had City's best chance of the night, breaking through he steered the ball round the advancing Ellis but also wide of the far post.
City were now looking to increase the pace of the game as they chased a leveler but a couple of free-kicks and a corner failed to bring them any luck, with Dave Pilcher going close curling a low effort round the wall but also a foot wide of the post. The game then took on a different pace - City in a hurry getting forward in search of the elusive equaliser, Crowborough, settling for what they had and determined to take as much time out of the game as they could possibly get away with - and annoyingly they did (get away with it)!
No opportunity was missed and a suddenly over fussy referee was the perfect ally to their tactics. Frustrations grew and an off the ball incident in the far corner, deep in the gloom saw a red card for each side as Tom Vickers and Martin were both dismissed, the latter enduring yet another game when he had been constantly and repeatedly fouled. The resultant free-kick from the initial foul that sparked the card incident was sent in by Pilcher and Will Hadler saw his effort blocked on the line by Ellis at point blank range - the keeper not really knowing anything about it though.
It was City that were now doing all the attacking and Harvey was sent up to reinforce the forward line, but despite their best efforts, they just couldn't find an equaliser. The time-wasting antics of the visitors got completely out of hand - just how many ways are there to hold a board up so that no-one can see who is going off - quite a few apparently and worse of all sending a substitute on and telling the linesman that the player being replaced was already off the pitch and had gone into the dugout (and yes - I heard that conversation) when in fact he was still on the pitch was a completely new one on me and with the game effectively about to restart until the City bench drew the officials attention to the oversight or deception - take your pick which! A lot of time needlessly frittered away, officials unwilling to deal with it or allow for it and the perpetrators laughing all the way back to Sussex!
In the closing moments City threw everything and everyone forward including Delo, as two free-kicks and a couple of corners in stoppage time saw the action centered in the Crowborough box where keeper Ellis, up until now acting and looking as strong as an ox, suddenly became the proverbial seven-stone weakling crumbling under every and any challenge.
With City unable to find the elusive goal they needed, Crowborough just about scrambled their way to a very scrappy and very ugly victory.
Final score; Canterbury City 0 Crowborough Athletic 1
City; Jack Delo, Gary Sayer, Jamie Maxted, Dan Keyte, Laurence Harvey, Will Hadler, Darren Marsden (Tom Barton), Wayne Wilson (Cory Walters-Wright), Rob Lawrence, Dave Pilcher, Matt Martin
Unused sub; Ben Smith