City and Bearsted Share the Goals and Points
By Kevin Olver
Closely fought match ends all square but frantic ending could have seen either side win it..
Canterbury City 1 Bearsted
After the excitement and euphoria of last weekend's historic FA Vase quarter-final victory, it was back to the 'day job' for City with this league fixture at home to Bearsted. It was a close encounter with the visitors taking an early lead before City levelled after the break and in a frantic finish, both sides could have taken all three points before ending with one apiece.
Reece Collins had already shot wide for Bearsted before a mix-up at the back from City gifted the visitors a fourth minute lead. An innocuous ball pushed forward should have been cleared by City, but nobody took charge and it ran through before rebounding off the post and leaving David Baranowski with the relatively easy task of poking the ball home from close range for 0-1.
City responded well to that setback and within minutes they had twice gone close to equalising. Firstly Jordan Casey's vicious shot from the left went narrowly wide and into the side netting and then Adam Woollcott's terrific strike crashed against the crossbar and came back down before bouncing up nicely for keeper Scott Andrews to grab.
City were now surging forward. The next attack broke down though when Dean Grant breaking on the left couldn't find Phil Starkey free in the box with his cross, then Ryan Cooper and Josh Froggatt both had promising crosses cleared before Renford Tenyue had a shot charged down.
Collins sent a low ball into the City box which Jack Delo safely took while soon after a lucky deflection fell to the same player round the back of the City defence and as Delo came out to close him down, Collins rolled the ball across the keeper but also wide of the far post. For City, a corner was easily cleared while Grant then shot wide.
Peter Williams fired a handily placed free-kick straight into the CIty wall, while the hosts responded with Tenyue winning the ball in midfield, moving forward and playing in Grant who turned his defender but shot just wide again. A fierce effort from Woollcott troubled Andrews who spilled the ball in front of him, but with two City players charging in, the offside flag went up.
With the break just minutes away, City's Michael Turner floated in a ball that dipped and swerved and had Andrews back-pedalling before throwing a worried hand up towards it - did he get a touch to steer it away from goal - maybe, but apparently not as a goal-kick was all that was given.
The break arrived with the visitors a goal up, but City, although looking a little flat at times, had still done more than enough to indicate that the game was far from over.
A change at half-time saw Danny Lawrence come on to replace Luke Wheatley and City went to three at the back and thrived and immediately City were searching again for the goal they needed to get back into the game. A lovely ball in from Casey was tailor made for Grant but just as he stooped to head the ball, Andy Foster nipped in in front of him to divert it away and out for a corner, from which Lawrence saw his shot charged down.
A free-kick from Woollcott was arrowed into the Bearsted box but sped past everybody and went straight out, while Grant's attempted back heel towards goal from another Casey ball in was blocked. A Tenyue cross was then well taken by Andrews under pressure before a ball lofted in by Woollcott had Casey charging in at the far post, but having done well to get there, stretching and still running at speed he couldn't quite divert the ball towards goal.
City's next efforts both came via Casey again as a thirty-yard pile driver flew wide of the goal before a lovely ball dinked in by Grant saw him glance a header wide of the keeper but also just wide of the post as well - that was the striker's last contribution as he was then replaced by James Turner from off the bench.
On seventy-three minutes, City scored a deserved equaliser. A sparkling run down the left from Froggatt saw him charge forward and beat several challenges before his low cross picked out Grant. His turn and shot was blocked but as the ball ricocheted off a defender, Woollcott came piling in, took control and cracked a powerful drive, low into the net from the edge of the box for 1-1.
In the time that remained, either side could have won it.
For City, Lawrence's great ball in was well taken by Grant but his shot on the run and on the stretch flew over the bar, substitute Kyron Lightfoot's fierce low effort from twenty yards went wide before another Grant effort took a firm deflection and also went past the upright.
A Lightfoot corner saw Andrews spill the ball again but once more he was fortunate to grab it - this time at the third attempt and before a City player could get close enough to punish the error, James Turner's shot was then well blocked away by the keeper before the resultant corner had Bearsted struggling again as firstly Turner and then Grant both tried to force it over the line before Andrews dropped on the ball to claim it. Lightfoot saw his shot blocked and finally for City, Cooper's cross to the far post was headed out by Lawrence as he tried desperately to redirect it back across goal.
While all that was going on Bearsted still had some chances too, Collins was denied by Delo by a fine point blank save with his foot, substitute Lucian Scarlat's shot was well stopped by the keeper - getting right behind the ball, before Delo was called into action again saving a header from a corner, while in the last action of the game, Cameron Croucher's shot almost caught the keeper out when it bounced up wickedly right in front of him, but already on the way down to make the save, Delo was alert enough to punch the ball away from knee height just as the final whistle blew.
A point each doesn't really do either team any good as far as the league is concerned as both sides are currently rooted in mid-table, but City at the moment do also have other fish to fry...
Final score: Canterbury City 1 Bearsted 1
City; Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Ryan Cooper, Phil Starkey, Luke Wheatley (Danny Lawrence), Ollie Lee, Josh Froggatt (Kyron Lightfoot), Adam Woollcott, Jordan Casey (James Turner), Dean Grant, Renford Tenyue.
Unused subs: Rob Lawrence,Chris Saunders