Canterbury City finished off their one season sharing at the Charles Sports Ground Deal with a narrow 3-2 defeat to Beckenham Town.
For 40 minutes they were on top and in control but two goals by the visitors in two minutes just before the break transformed the contest and thereafter it was the visitors that most impressed.
Kick-off was delayed 8 minutes by the late arrival of many of the Beckenham players due to traffic chaos in and around Dover. Well done to the players and officials for getting the game started as promptly as they did. At least next season at Faversham the logistics should be easier for everyone for City’s “home” games.
The initial stages had an end of season feel, the initial sparing saw a Casey header easily dealt with by McCarthy on 7 minutes. On 13 minutes Delo was forced into action but gathered bravely and then Atkins fired inches over for the visitors on 16.
On 22 minutes City broke the deadlock, a neat left wing cross by Martin was met by Lewins who manged to scuff the ball in past a wrong-footed McCarthy. A messy but deserved lead. City nearly doubled the lead on 28 but Casey couldn’t get his head to the loose ball.
As the game progressed Lewins impressed down the wing for City with some clever approach play but suddenly the game was turned on its head on 41 minutes. Out of the blue a sharp cross from out on the right was met by Whatmore and his effort went in off the underside of the bar.
City were still digesting that unfortunate turn of events when Beckenham grabbed the lead a minute later. A shot inside the box was blocked but fell perfectly to the alert Atkins to steer home (42). It was harsh on City, but sixty seconds of lax defending changed the game.
The second half saw Town continue where they’d left off, in the ascendancy, the increasingly influential Wright pulling many of the strings in midfield. He had the first good chance of the second period when through on goal was cleverly closed down and ushered away from danger.
City’s big chance to equalise and perhaps save the game occurred on 52 minutes, some dazzling play by Griffiths saw him break into the box and intelligently square the ball into the path of the unmarked Martin 10 yards out, sadly he blazed the ball over when it looked easier to score. Wilson then put a 25-yard free-kick high over the bar (not his finest moment), but Martin’s fine play out wide suggested City could still get back to 2-2.
At the other end Wright was causing chaos in the City half while as the game opened up Atkins deflected a City chance over the bar. The defining moment arrived on 57 minutes amid a crazy scramble in the box, the ball ended up in the net but not before the referee had already awarded a spot kick to Town. Atkins coolly made it 1-3 and the game looked done.
Atkins nearly made it four but put his diving header over the bar and then Beckenham hit the bar with a ferocious shot on 68. Man of the Match Wright was subbed on 72 to avoid a possible second yellow card as things got a bit fraught but the visitors continued to dominate. Johnson’s mazy dribble was well parried by Delo and then a short Town free-kick was shanked high in the air only to drop against the bar on 80.
To their credit City never gave up and fought back well in the last ten minutes. A blistering Lawrence volley was blocked on 82 and a fierce direct free-kick by Casey was blocked by the wall. Owen fired over for the visitors late on but in the 90th minute Casey poked home from close range to set up a tight finish. Beckenham held out and showed they were a top four side. City’s hopes of bettering last season’s 9th place now rest upon winning at Glebe on the final day and hoping other results go their way.