All Square Between City and Tunbridge Wells
By Kevin Olver
Last game before FA Vase Quarter-Final sees the goals and points shared
Canterbury City 1 Tunbridge Wells 1
A close encounter ended all square as both teams picked up a point a piece in this one-all draw. City took an early lead and had the best of the first-half, but Wells came out after the break with a lot more energy and subsequently equalised. City then played the last few minutes plus stoppage time with ten men due to a Liam Quinn injury - a period which saw both sides chase after a winner that never came.
The first notable action was City taking the lead in the fourth minute when a free-kick, twenty-two yards from goal and right of centre was curled low around the Wells wall by Adam Woollcott and although keeper Cameron Hall dived across and got both hands to it, he couldn't prevent it from tucking just inside the post and into the net for 1-0.
Ola William was an inch from connecting with a Wells corner as the visitors sought an immediate response, while a dangerous ball in from open play was well taken by City keeper Jack Delo with some safe and assured handling.
There was plenty of hurry and scurry without too much invention but Ollie Lee's soft yellow card on twenty minutes had more to do with the loud complaints that the advantage hadn't been allowed than the actual foul itself. This unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the match when several more cards for both sides were shown, many of which, in another game probably wouldn't have been!
City wasted a free-kick opportunity to get the ball into the box while Wells were guilty on three successive occasions of not making anything from their dead-ball opportunities with just a tame header looping up for Delo to pluck out of the air to show for their efforts. James Turner went close to chasing down a ball into the Wells box but he was well defended out of possession by Lewis Mingle with some effective defending.
A couple of long throws from City's Ryan Cooper couldn't prise a packed Wells box apart, but from one, Wells counter-attacked but the ever efficient and reliable Quinn excelled in clearing the danger. Wells had a great chance to level on thirty-one minutes when a corner on the left was played short and the subsequent cross was fired in forcing Delo to move quickly to shovel the ball away from the angle and as it rebounded out a fierce snap shot from Jamie Humphris was brilliantly beaten away by Delo with a great reaction save.
City were pressing forward too and Dean Grant volleyed a knock on from Bola Dawodu over the bar, a free-kick was cleared by Wells and then another long throw from Cooper caused some confusion in the box with Dawodu unlucky not to get a telling touch near the post as Wells scrambled it away for a City corner. This was swung in by Woollcott but despite two City headers, the ball bounced up nicely right in front of Hall to gratefully gather.
Dawodu couldn't quite turn a Woollcott free-kick goalbound, while at the other end, Wells saw a shot from the edge of the box charged down by the City defence. Woollcott then limped off to be replaced by Rob Lawrence, while Wells right-back Akeeb Adeymo - already on a yellow card and a final warning from the referee - was hooked by his bench after conceding yet another free-kick, this time for handball.
City ended the half, including seven minutes of added time, strongly with a series of free-kicks and long throws into the box defended or scrambled clear in varying degrees of surety by Wells, while Quinn headed one Lawrence free-kick wide under pressure and Hall took another well as several City players charged in in pursuit. In between times, Chris Saunders threw himself in front of Jason Thompson to just nick the ball away with his head thus making a brave and crucial clearance and preventing the Wells forward having a clear sight of goal before the break arrived with City deservedly a goal up.
Wells resumed with a lot more pace and energy and started moving the ball and themselves around much quicker. An early attack from them saw a shot charged down, while a huge, high ball was well taken by Delo as Humphris came charging in. A couple of City free-kicks failed to present any sort of opening, while a glancing header from Wells flew just wide of Delo's goal.
Jake Beecroft saw his effort blocked by City but it wasn't long before Wells pressure told and they equalised. A free-kick on sixty-one minutes was positioned about twenty-five yards out and in the inside-right channel and was taken short to Beecroft who cracked in a low first-time shot that flew past Delo's despairing dive and into the net for 1-1.
From then on it was end to end with both teams striving for a winner. Lawrence saw his snap-shot blocked after a classy City build-up, while a left-sided Wells attack ended with a Mingles first-time low strike well deflected away by Dawodu who had tracked back to help his defence.
Dawodu was then thwarted - as he was about to burst through - by an Alex Kendall aerial handball that earned the former City favourite the next yellow card while at the other end a spectacular looking, flying volley from Thompson saw the ball whiz at high speed just past the City goal. Dawodu, leaning back, volleyed a Cooper ball in over the Wells bar, while other opportunities failed to give City a workable strike on goal and Delo intercepted a Wells counter-attack.
With both sides pushing hard for a winner, a short worked throw for City saw Lawrence curl the ball in and Quinn, in attempting to flick it on, take a blow to the head and go down injured. The referee stopped the game immediately and an eerie silence descended on the stadium as Quinn laid on the ground. After several minutes of treatment, he was unable to continue and went straight off to the dressing room - I have no news of any injury at the time of writing, but it goes without saying we all wish him well and hope he's okay!
City had already made all their changes so moved Lee into the back four to partner Will Hadler - who had looked assured and solid all game and despite them ending the match (including five minutes of stoppage time) with ten men it was City who went closest to winning. Both sides launched the ball forward to either attack or in City's case mainly to clear their depleted lines, but they did it with purpose as twice the ball was played up to Grant who was now the lone striker. Both times he held the ball up well while waiting for some reinforcements and the second time he cleverly rolled it through to substitute Kyron Lightfoot on the overlap, but his attempted cross from a very tight angle could only find the side-netting.
The game ended soon after with a draw probably a fair result on the day but City must now turn their attentions to next Sunday's FA Vase quarter-final clash with Biggleswade at Salter's Lane which promises to be a bumper occasion in front of a bumper crowd....
Final score: Canterbury City 1 Tunbridge Wells 1
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Ryan Cooper, Ollie Lee, Liam Quinn, Will Hadler, Chris Saunders (Kyron Lightfoot), Adam Woollcott (Rob Lawrence), Dean Grant, James Turner (Josh Froggatt), Bola Dawodu.
Unused Subs: Gary Sayer, James Nurden