All Square at Crowborough Athletic
By Kevin Olver
Two good goals but little else to see as City and Crowborough share the points.
Canterbury City 1 Crowborough Athletic 1
City continued their grueling run-in to the end of the season with another long away trip, this time to Crowborough.
An unexciting first half was only punctuated by a very well taken City goal, but a much more entertaining and eventful second period almost made the long trip worth making even if the hosts did score an equally good strike themselves to ensure that the goals and points were shared.
The first twenty minutes or so produced very little in the way of goal mouth action with neither keeper tested. Jason Barton for Crowborough and City's Jordan Casey both saw long range shots blocked and apart from that it became the battle of the long throws with both sides employing the tactic - albeit to little productive effect, while City also kept trying to get Renford Tenyue through on goal but to no avail, otherwise there was little else to note.
City had a couple of free-kicks and a corner all fairly easily cleared, they were also caught offside a few times which only added to the ever increasing stop-start nature of the game and while both sides did make sorties towards and around each other's penalty areas - City more times than the hosts - again, nothing clear cut or even half-clear-cut was created.
Danny Lawrence did have a shot blocked around the half-hour mark and he then fired in a free-kick which flew straight into Crowborough keeper Billy Johnson's midriff. He was also responsible for City's next effort when receiving the ball from a throw-on, he turned to one side in the box and tried to chip the ball over the defence and the keeper but it had a little too much weight on it and it went over the bar as well.
Just when the half seemed to be drifting into total forgetfulness, Casey awoke us all when he popped up down the left, cut inside and curled a delicious shot inside the far post and well away from Johnson's desperate full length dive to give City the lead at 1-0.
A late City free-kick into a packed home area failed to produce anything either in keeping with the rest of the half, but when the whistle blew for the break, at least we had City's goal to appreciate and talk about if nothing else!
Thankfully the second-half was a much more stirring affair. Crowborough's Richard Wetton saw his whipped in ball solidly taken by City keeper Jack Delo while the hosts were then desperately unlucky not to equalise when Rhys Bartlett's thunderbolt shot thumped squarely against the inside of the post before being cleared to safety.
On fifty-three minutes, City should have been allowed to double their lead when Casey's firm shot from distance flew towards Johnson at such a pace that all he could do was position himself somewhere behind it and deflect it back out and hope for the best. This he did well to manage but he could do nothing about Tenyue pouncing on the ball and rifling the rebound back past him and into the net, but City's joy was short lived when a clearly errant offside flag rescued the hosts.
A minute later, Tenyue was thwarted again by the officials as having battled his way into the home box and almost through on goal he went down under pressure behind from a Crowborough defender and was absolutely certain that he had been impeded in his effort to get a shot off, but the referee waved his claim away.
Crowborough then started to exert a bit of pressure themselves on the City goal and enjoyed a good period which ultimately saw them getting back on level terms. Substitute Ollie Welbourn broke at speed and almost got through on goal before being halted by an excellent back-tracking tackle from City's Ollie Lee but then Wetton broke down the same side and hit a terrific shot from the tightest of angles that flew past Delo and into the net for 1-1.
Wetton had the next effort on goal too with another shot that this time was saved low by Delo before Welbourn fired wide from twenty yards when he was the first to reach a ball cleared from a Crowborough corner.
Unfortunately, the last twenty minutes plus five of added time were more about the off-the-ball stuff rather than the football. Some late tackles and two separate boiling points as players clashed proved difficult for the referee to deal with and he appeared to get zero assistance from either of his assistants and after a placid first-half littered with debatable decisions, by the time the second-half had livened up and become serious, his authority was so far off the pace that he struggled to keep control.
However, during that period, the teams did exchange a fruitless corner apiece and City substitute Kyron Lightfoot twice hit shots over the home bar but Crowborough went the closest to scoring when a corner from the left was headed out to safety from under his own bar by City's Michael Turner.
Not the best of games, but two good goals and a draw about the right result.
Final score: Canterbury City 1 Crowborough Athletic 1
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, James Nurden, Phil Starkey, Gary Sayer, Ollie Lee, Adam Woollcott (Rob Lawrence), Chris Saunders, Jordan Casey (Kyron Lightfoot), Renford Tenyue, Danny Lawrence.
Unused Subs: Dean Grant, Ryan Cooper