City Back To Winning Ways with Victory Against Hollands and Blair
Wilson and Pilcher on target as Hawkes excels and City rise above dubious H&B tactics to secure victory.
Canterbury City 2 Hollands and Blair 1
A timely victory for City in another tight and competitive fixture. A first-half home lead was quickly snuffed out by the visitors, but City responded well and it was a tale of two keepers that ultimately decided the points.
Both sides had chances to open the scoring, City's Rob Lawrence stabbed the ball into the side netting from a tight angle early on, while H&B keeper Louis Lawlor was rather fortunate when missing a straightforward City cross and having to hurriedly shovel the ball out for a corner. At the other end, ace goalscorer James McDonald had the perfect opportunity to score, but fluffed his lines in front of an open goal mis-kicking the ball from a right-wing cross after City had been pulled apart by a great diagonal pass.
Dan Keyte made a lovely turn but fired over the H&B bar, while Daren Hawkes made a sharp save for City as H&B countered at speed. McDonald was then denied by a superb sliding and blocking tackle from Josh McCallum as he looked set to score, while a City break through the heart of H&B ended with Dave Pilcher firing over. It was end to end as a quick throw from H&B found Justin Ascheri free down the right and he cut inside but shot a couple of yards wide of the far angle.
At the other end Lawrence flicked a glancing header just over the bar, while a Tom Barton shot was deflected out for a corner. Pilcher sent the ball in but Lawlor could only flap and paw it down where McCallum pounced on the loose ball setting up Keyte but he could only poke the ball wide when well placed.
On forty-one minutes, City took the lead when a lovely flowing move down the left saw a cross come over and Wayne Wilson thumped a sweet strike home through the grasping reach of Lawlor for 1-0.
Unfortunately for City they couldn't hold the lead and just a few minutes later, a H&B cross from the left was sent into the heart of the City six-yard box and McDonald just about did enough to force the ball past Hawkes for 1-1.
Half-time soon arrived, with the game all square which on the balance of play was probably just about right. Some good chances had been created but both sides had been guilty of several errors especially in possession with the ball being given away far too often for comfort.
A scrappy restart meant the game took a while to get going again but Barton almost caught Lawlor napping on his near post and Kush Campbell, having been carelessly presented the ball by City, should really have scored, but did in fact miss the target.
H&B were to quickly pay for that missed opportunity when, in the sixty-third minute, City regained the lead and that's where the tale of two keepers begins. A ball forward was chased down by Lawrence and laid back into the path of Pilcher, it popped up in front of him and Pilcher's first-time volley should have been straight down Lawlor's throat, but he seemed not to see it or go for it and it somehow dipped over his head and under the bar, as the keeper could only give it a cursory wave as it floated past him and into the net for 2-1. Claiming he had lost it in the floodlights was fair enough, but it wasn't very nice to see the young keeper getting so much stick off his own side for the mistake!
However, having got themselves back into the lead, City then looked content to try to wind the game down and although there was still plenty of time to go, they began to allow H&B onto them and gain some of the initiative. Unfortunately in their enthusiasm to get back into the game, some of the tactics employed by the visitors were, to put it mildly, pretty awful.
In the time that remained H&B definitely had chances to level and possibly even win, but as chances came and went, frustrations grew and an uglier side of their game came to the fore. A City player was dragged to the floor down by his own corner flag as a lenient referee barely looked on, while a nasty and prolonged verbal attack on a linesman was by and large ignored.
A far post ball then found Rob Denness in a great position, free and unmarked but his tame header was straight at Hawkes when he really should have scored. That was then followed by another missed opportunity when a corner found Keiran Sharp right in front of an open goal, he got something on it, but somehow it bounced up and over the CIty bar to safety - another should have scored moment had passed the visitors by.
As both sides made substitutions, the game got a bit stop start, but H&B were forcing the game to City and virtually laying siege on the home goal. Ed Morant had a shot blocked, while City were indebted to Gary Sayer with a lovely piece of defending to clear another H&B attack. As time wore on the referee was finally forced to get hs card out of his pocket as substitute Lewis Taylor incurred enough of the referee's rather limited wrath to have his name taken.
H&B continued to push forward, but in their frantic urgency, any quality just disappeared. A couple of late corners brought them nothing with Sharp heading over the bar at the far post from the second one and as the game ticked into five minutes of stoppage time, Denness was the next to see a yellow card.
As H&B chased the game they were susceptible to the break and City substitute Billy Lewins broke into the box and tried to dink the ball over an onrushing Lawlor but could only send it over the keeper but also wide of the goal. Another H&B corner saw Lawlor sent forward in a last desperate attempt to disrupt City and force an equaliser, but it was then the tale of two keepers - part two, as his counterpart Hawkes, pulled off a brilliant, flying, one handed save from a header to deny H&B a certain equaliser.
It was more than H&B could take as in the last minute, City's Darren Marsden broke forward with the ball towards the box and was almost floored by an ugly lunging tackle from Sharp that he just about managed to skip past, but having done so, a couple of yards later Scott Wibley 'did a proper' job with a late, scything, hack that brought the City man crashing to the floor - two red card tackles every time but Wibley somehow escaped with a yellow and Sharp with nothing!
The final whistle blew just as City took the resulting free-kick giving them the deserved win and all three points. A very disappointing response and tactics from the visitors and considering some of the yellow and red cards City have suffered this season and in previous ones, they must be looking at some of those challenges and confrontations and scratching their heads with some puzzlement as to how they were so leniently dealt with or in fact not dealt with at all..
Final score; Canterbury City 2 Hollands and Blair 1
City; Daren Hawkes, Pat Nzuzi (Billy Lewins), Ryan Catmull (Matthew Catmull), Dan Keyte, Gary Sayer, Josh McCallum, Darren Marsden, Wayne Wilson, Rob Lawrence, Dave Pilcher, Tom Barton (Remi Awosanya).
Unused sub; Ben Smith