City Struggle In Front of Goal as K Sports Grab The Points
By Kevin Olver
Poor finishing sees City surrender all three points at Cobdown
Canterbury City 1 K Sports 2
A thoroughly frustrating afternoon for City that saw them throw all three points away as their historic season looks in danger of just fizzling out. They took the lead and by the time the hosts had equalised, City should really have been three or four goals further in front, but although they created plenty of very good chances, the firepower and cutting edge up front just wasn't there to take advantage of several great opportunities.
A first minute free-kick for City saw Kyron Lightfoot's strike deflect off the wall and loop up requiring Sports keeper Henry Lovering to push it over the bar to safety while a James Nurden ball in from the left was steered wide of the target by Dean Grant.
City keeper Tom Benham snaffled a low cross from Sports Regan Corke while Tom Skelton cut inside before firing in a shot from thirty-five yards that started wide of the City goal and just continued to curl further away.
An exchange of corners only saw Charlie Smith volley well over the City bar while Chris Saunders charged down a Sports clearance and raced into the box only to be thwarted when Lovering came sliding out to block the ball away. It was a fairly open encounter with the play switching from one end to the other and a cross from Lightfoot was glanced away from Grant as he made to head the ball home from close range.
City were stringing together some useful moves and openings and moments later a great diagonal ball from Danny Lawrence picked out Nurden on the left and he cut inside only to see his low shot deflected out for a corner and then, within a minute, a lovely flowing build-up from City again found Nurden on the left, but this time his cross was flicked away by Lovering's fingertips as several City players converged on the scene. The hosts were also getting forward, but they weren't creating the chances that City were as three balls sent into the City box were all comfortably dealt with by Benham.
On twenty-three minutes City took a deserved lead when Lightfoot found Saunders down the right with a well placed pass and he in turn tucked it inside for Michael Turner who, galloping forward in support, hit a crisp, first-time strike across and through Lovering for 1-0.
Sports tried to react quickly as firstly, Jack West shot high and wide, then Smith - after a neat turn in the City box saw his effort charged down by a defender and James Alderman was then denied by Benham after a couple of pieces of strong and tenacious defending from Turner.
On thirty-one minutes, Sports had their clearest site of goal yet when Smith, under pressure, saw his header fly just past the angle, but City were soon back in the groove as Ryan Cooper saw a shot blocked and after another clever build-up, Grant found space and the ball - but fired wide.
City were then forced into a change as Joe Nelder came on to replace the injured Saunders but City were still flooding forward and after winning the ball on the edge of his own box, a lightening break from Lawrence cut through Sports, but Grant's final ball across just eluded Nurden as he charged in at the far post.
In the run up to the break City were dominating. Lawrence popped the ball over the defence for Lightfoot whose low shot was then blocked before Adam Woollcott retrieved it and sent it back in but Grant was caught offside. Lawrence then found Lightfoot again but his firm ball in this time was headed wide by Grant.
The five minutes of added time at the end of the half saw both a City corner and an attacking long throw come to nothing, but will probably be 'best' remembered for the strangest yellow card of the season as Lawrence was booked for the apparent offence of not taking a throw-in (I'll have to look that one up!).
The half ended when a member of City's coaching staff was sent to the dressing room for protesting to the referee that he had failed to stop the game for a possible head injury - a situation which currently strikes an especially raw nerve for City!
However, the break arrived with City a goal to the good and very much on top in terms of attacking play and chances created.
For the first few minutes after the restart, Sports were far more proactive in attack. A dangerous looking ball in from Corke was smartly taken by Benham, but the keeper then made a poor clearance and Smith pounced on the loose ball and really should have scored but his shot thumped against the underside of the crossbar and was cleared by a relieved City defence. Smith had another shot blocked while Reece Gillies then wastefully struck his effort well wide.
After that period of impetus from the hosts, it was a catalogue of missed chances for City as they failed to put the game to bed. Nelder intercepted a Sports move and sent Lightfoot through on goal but from the edge of the box, with Grant up in support and City two-on-one, he could only curl a shot wide of Lovering but also of the post. Lightfoot then cut in from the right and with just the keeper to beat he shot into the side netting and another great opportunity had passed City by.
Lawrence then charged down a Lovering clearance and the ball ran loose to Grant but the keeper just about recovered well enough to hamper Grant and he shot wide. Lawrence then found Lightfoot who did well to control and gather the ball in before finding Turner on the overlap, but he could only fire over the bar from a good position.
City then made their second change as Rob Lawrence replaced Woollcott and he was soon into the action cleverly slipping Grant through on goal, but Lovering was alert enough and came sprinting out to hack the ball clear. A handily placed City free-kick failed to prise Sports open neither did a short corner routine that ended with Lightfoot's strike saved by the keeper.
Renford Tenyue was then introduced into the fray for Lightfoot, but he couldn't get City onto the scoresheet either when another fine move involving himself twice as well as Danny Lawrence and Cooper ended with a cross being well overhit. Another corner and then a long throw passed City by before a huge clearance by Benham was brilliantly controlled and pulled down by Grant with the surest and deftest of touches, but the quality then eluded him as the resulting shot was weak and rolled harmlessly through to the keeper.
During this period of City dominance, Sports had little in response so when they equalised in the seventy-first minute it truly can be said to have come out of nowhere when, after a routine looking foray forward by them, Alderman found himself twenty yards from goal and in a bit of space and he crashed a shot home into the top corner leaving Benham completely glued to the spot and without a chance for 1-1.
A set-back for the visitors and their travelling faithful for sure but City still continued to dominate proceedings despite it. A Rob Lawrence low ball was whipped in and Tenyue's attempted flick past the keeper was denied when Lovering took it off his toes before City then saw another attacking free-kick and a corner fail to trouble the home goal and then Lovering climb to claim Danny Lawrence's threatening delivery into the box.
The game was opening up as City pushed forward and suddenly Sports sniffed a what had seemed unlikely victory. A poor clearance from Benham fell to Alderman who nearly got his second but the ball was deflected out for an unsuccessful corner before Alderman and Gillies combined to pull City apart but Sam Stace on the overlap swept the ball wide from eight yards.
A City free-kick was played short for Rob Lawrence but his shot was charged down and it allowed Sports to break at speed but fortunately for the visitors, Corke fluffed his lines on the end of the move when he blasted a volley high over the bar.
It was end to end stuff now and another City corner came and went before down the other end Callum Marshall's shot was well blocked by Rob Lawrence with Corke scuffing a low, weak shot wide from their resultant corner. City were straight back on the attack and Turner cut inside from the right but curled a shot the wrong side of the opposite upright, then Grant headed well over from a cross and as the game clicked into three minutes of added time, a Danny Lawrence free-kick was defended away without troubling the hosts.
Finally, with the last kick of the game, the almost inevitable happened when after a slowish build-up, Alderman struck again to smash the ball into the roof of the City net from the edge of the box for 1-2 and a victory for Sports that was probably as much of City's making than of their own.
A very disappointing result for City who should have had the game out of sight long before Sports had even equalised.
Final score: Canterbury City 1 K Sports 2
City: Tom Benham, Michael Turner, James Nurden, Ryan Cooper, Gary Sayer, Phil Starkey, Adam Woollcott (Rob Lawrence), Chris Saunders (Joe Nelder), Dean Grant, Danny Lawrence, Kyron Lightfoot (Renford Tenyue).
Unused Subs: Jordan Casey, Bola Dawodu