City Fall to Single Goal Defeat to League Leaders Corinthian
By Kevin Olver
City suffer their second nil-one defeat in succession again unable to influence the title race or to climb the table
Canterbury City 0 Corinthian 1
City were unable to put a dent in Fisher's title aspirations on Saturday and three days later they couldn't harm Corinthians title bid either after suffering another single goal defeat.
It was a tight and competitive game and the hosts were forced to work very hard for the much needed three points to keep them on top of the table as they would have been well aware that both their title rivals were winning at the same time. City keeper Jack Delo was by far the busiest on the night but with a bit more assertiveness and fire-power in the opposition box, there is every chance that some of these recent encounters against the top sides could easily have had very different results.
City had their first opportunity with less than a minute on the clock when Dean Grant made an unchecked run forward and saw his shot pushed over the bar by home keeper Aiden Prall with the resultant corner eventually coming out to the edge of the box where Ben Gorham lifted his shot just too high.
After that initial City attempt it was the home side that started to grab the initiative. A Jamie Billings speculative effort flew well over from thirty-five yards, Emmanuel Oloyede whipped a dangerous looking ball in that Delo took well before another home shot was blocked and the follow up effort then provided a fairly straightforward save down low for the already busy keeper.
In the tenth minute though, the home side were awarded a penalty when Jack Holland swung the ball in from the right and feeling a hand on his back, Luke Tanner collapsed to the floor inviting the referee to make the decision. You could argue that justice was then done when Oloyede blasted the spot-kick high over the City bar to keep the game goalless.
Andres Tobon then fired a ball in that Delo snaffled smartly down by the foot of his near post before City broke the pressure when, from a free-kick, a lovely move involving five or six players ended with Grant just chipping the ball inches over the bar from the edge of the box with Prall looking beaten and worried.
Grant then saw another shot blocked, while at the other end, left-back Ryan Cooper raced across to clear and halt another home attack. On thirty-three minutes, Grant was again, an inch away from scoring for City when a ball forward was inadvertently flicked towards his own goal by the head of a defender and fell perfectly for Grant to latch onto, but with Prall charging out, the striker tried to dink the ball over and past him but a superb reflex dive by the keeper saw him just get enough of his fingertips to the ball and push it away for a defender to clear.
A trio of home corners were all defended away by City although the first did cause them a scare as it arrowed in right underneath the bar and Delo had to react quickly to get half a fist on it to keep it out. City weren't short of opportunities as the half closed though. A free-kick into the home box was punched up rather than out by Prall and eventually found Grant whose effort was deflected out for an unsuccessful corner, while in added time, a Renford Tenyue cross from the left bounced about in the area but nobody from City could get a telling touch before the ball ran loose out to Chris Saunders whose first time volley was on target but Prall dived across to take it with both hands.
There was still time for the home side to spurn a couple of good chances before the break as firstly Tanner took several moments to set himself before smashing a fifteen yard volley high over the bar and then Jack Mahoney won the ball on the right just outside the City box and with options available in the middle he chose to shoot and powered the ball well wide of the far post.
A close fought first half - no goals but with chances at both ends the deadlock should probably have been broken.
Any nerves that were beginning to build for the hosts were quickly dispelled when, just three minutes after the restart, they took the lead. An attack down the right reached the City box and the ball was played across the edge of the area and eventually squeezed out to the left where Jamie Billings, charging forward, suddenly found himself on the overlap and unmarked and cracked a first-time shot hard and low that speared in to the net just inside the post and despite Delo diving across and getting a good hand to it, but he couldn't keep it out and City were behind at 0-1.
Corinthian then put City under considerable pressure as they sought a potential match winning second. A searching ball in from Holland was heading towards the top corner before Delo pushed it over the bar, while Oloyede menacingly cut inside from the left and shot low and very narrowly wide and into the side netting. A free-kick was then fired in by the hosts which Delo did well to push out for a corner under some pressure before displaying some great handling, plucking the ball out of the air as it was sent back in.
City were struggling to get forward during this period but they did win a corner which was flicked on and fell to Saunders who was clattered from behind as he shaped to shoot, the referee only seeing a goal-kick.
The home side looked by far the most likely to score and Oloyede broke from the left and laid the ball off to Jamie Billings who skied the ball well over the City bar from twenty-five yards. Another great chance then passed the hosts by when Oloyede sprinted through the City ranks with the ball, broke into the box and neglecting to find a shooting opportunity as City closed him down whichever way he twisted and turned, he was forced to pass but in doing do, given the opening that he had created, Corinthian were criminally caught offside.
Given all the circumstances, the game should probably have closed right up but that was far from the case. The home side continued to push forward looking for the crucial second and the game opened up but City still couldn't purposely threaten their opponents goal. The hosts saw a free-kick near the corner of the City box easily cleared and then Tobon scuffed a twenty-yarder that trickled through to Delo. City responded with two attacking long throws from Cooper but weren't able to create anything while a counter-attack had City struggling when the ball was smashed against the foot of the post and flew out to Tobon who fired the rebound back in only to see Delo make a good, low, scrambling save down to his left.
City introduced Jordan Casey to try and get some oomph up front but the chances were coming at the other end as Oloyede saw a shot blocked out for a fruitless corner and then moments later, Delo was forced to scurry out of his goal to block away the ball and to thus thwart Oloyede as he chased after a well placed through ball.
With around ten minutes to go City found themselves able to get forward as Corinthians dropped back appearing to have decided to hold what they had and they had their busiest spell of the game attacking wise but alas, no clear-cut chances were created. A ball in from Ben Gorham saw Grant glance a soft header harmlessly wide, while a Tenyue cross was defended away with some ease. An Adam Woollcott free-kick into the home box came to nothing as did a couple of promising crosses as City were completely undermanned and out-numbered in the home box.
As Corinthian slowed everything down and managed the game to it's conclusion, a frustrated City could only manage a Woollcott shot fired wide from twenty-five yards. Saunders then denied Oloyede with a superb defensive block at the expense of a late corner, before deep into stoppage time, City could have thrown the title race wide open when a long throw from Cooper bobbled and bounced about in the Corinthian box for what appeared like ages before being scrambled clear by the hosts to much home relief.
City have now played the top three in four league and cup games in the last few weeks suffering three nil-one defeats and a one-all draw, it's an obvious and easy thing to say - but just how different would everything have been if they could just have stuck the ball in the net more than nought in some or all of those crucial matches!
However there are still six games left to go in April, so no time to brood or wonder, just hope that they find the shooting boots they had against Rusthall and Hollands and Blair when they travel to K Sports next on Saturday.
Final score: Canterbury City 0 Corinthian 1
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Ryan Cooper, Phil Starkey, Ben Gorham, Gary Sayer, Adam Woollcott, Chris Saunders (Owen Fitt), Dean Grant, Kyron Lightfoot (Jordan Casey), Renford Tenyue.
Unused Subs: Danny Lawrence, Ollie Lee, James Nurden.